The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has held the Post Master General in Chandigarh and Lodhi Road in New Delhi guilty of deficiency in service for failing to deliver the application forms of two law graduates to the Delhi High Court Registrar in time, leading to the applicants losing precious chance of participating in the Delhi Judicial Service Examination.
A bench of NCDRC president Justice D K Jain and member M Shreesha held that the two post offices had failed to deliver the application forms sent through speed post within the committed period of 2-4 days as postulated in the citizen’s charter.
The apex consumer forum said so while dismissing the revision petitions preferred by the Post Master General, GPO in Chandigarh and Post Master, GPO, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, against the order dated July 14, 2017, passed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, UT, in Chandigarh directing the petitioners to pay a compensation of Rs. 25,000 to the complainants – Manoj Kumar from Mohali and Vikas Verma from Chandigarh.
The state commission had held the post offices to be deficient in service as they failed to deliver the packets containing the application forms of the complainants for appearing in the Delhi Judicial Services Examination-2015, by or before 07.11.2015, the last date for submission of such applications.
The complainants had submitted that they had sent the forms through speed post on November 2, 2015. As per the postal department, the packets reached Delhi on November 6 but was opened only on November 7, 2015 and delivered to the high court on November 16, 2015, without any explanation as to why the packets were not opened and delivered on the same day.
The state commission had concluded that there was clear deficiency on the part of the petitioners in the inordinate delay in delivery of the packets in New Delhi, dispatched through speed post on November 2, 2015, from Chandigarh and which should have reached Delhi by November 5, 2015 as per the norms of the postal department.
The state commission had held, “As per contents of Citizen Charter issued by the Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, qua delivery of speed post, it is stated that from State Capital to State Capital speed post will reach within 1 to 4 days. In the present case, the packet was sent on 2.11.2015. As per norms fixed by the Department of Posts, it was supposed to reach Delhi on 5.11.2015. Even as per admission of the respondents/Ops, the packet was received at Delhi on 6.11.2015. However, the bag containing the packet was opened only on 7.11.2015.
“No explanation has been given as to why no attempt was made to deliver the packet on 6.11.2015. The last date to submit application was 7.11.2015. It was working day. There is no explanation as to why on the said date the packet was not delivered in the office of the Registrar, Delhi High Court. The packet was delivered only on 16.11.2015. For the intervening period, no evidence is on record, that the High Court was closed. Had the officials been vigilant the packet would have been delivered by 6.11.2015 or at the maximum by 7.11.2015. Total laxity was shown by the employees of the respondents/OPs. No attempt was made to deliver the packet sent through speed post within the stipulated period, as fixed by the Department of Posts.”
The state commission directed the Post Master General, Chandigarh, and the one at Lodhi Road to pay compensation of Rs. 25,000 for mental harassment and agony suffered due to missing of opportunity to appear in the DJS exam.
The district forum had, however, dismissed the complaint on the sole ground that the packets could not be delivered in the high court on account of weekend holidays.
Before the NCDRC, the counsel for the Post Master General vehemently submitted that since the bag, containing the subject packets, was received from Chandigarh at the Lodhi Colony Post Office in New Delhi only on November 6, 2015, and the high court being closed for Diwali holidays from November 9 to 13, 2015, the packets could be delivered only on November 16, 2015, the following working Monday.
It was asserted that there was no wilful default on the part of the postal authority in not delivering the subject packets within the committed period of 2 – 4 days, as postulated in the citizens’ charter.
“We are unable to persuade ourselves to agree with the learned Counsel (for the petitioners). From the documents, it is clear that the packets were received in the Post Office at Chandigarh on 02.11.2015 but there is no indication as to on which date the same was actually received in the Post Office at Lodhi Road, New Delhi. It only shows that the bag, containing the packets, was perhaps opened only on 07.11.2015.
“On a pointed query by us as to on what basis, it was pleaded in the Written Version that the bag, containing the packets, was in fact received on 06.11.2015, learned Counsel is unable to point out any document in that behalf, except to repeat that this stand emanates only from the Written Version. Further, even if it is assumed for the sake of argument that the bag, containing the subject packets, was in fact received at Lodhi Road Post Office on 06.11.2015, nothing has been brought on record as to why the same could be opened only on 07.11.2015, the last date for submission of the subject applications,” the NCDRC bench observed.
“Two clear days, i.e. 06.11.2015 and 07.11.2015 being available for delivery in the High Court, the plea that the packets could not be delivered because of the long Diwali holidays is of no avail to the Petitioners. In the absence of any cogent circumstances being brought on record by the Postal Department to show that there was no wilful act or default on the part of its staff, we are convinced that having failed to deliver the packets within the committed period of 2-4 days, there was wilful default on the part of the Petitioners. Undoubtedly, the said default has caused to the Complainants a great deal of anguish and mental agony of losing precious chance of participating in an important competitive examination, for which they have been awarded paltry compensation of ₹25,000,” the bench said.