Utpal Kumar Bhattacharya, Member
The instant Appeal under Section 15 of the C P Act, 1986 has been filed by the Appellants/OPs challenging the judgment and order dated 22/07/2013 passed by the Ld. District forum South 24 Paraganas in C C No.326 of 2012 allowing the complaint in part with cost. The directions passed by the Ld. District Forum in the impugned judgment and order are as under:-
'That the case being C C No. 326 of 2012 be and the same is decreed in part on contest against the O P with cost.
The OPs are directed to pay a sum of Rs.2.5 lakh towards compensation and and a sum of Rs.20,000/-towards cost of the case totalling to Rs.2,70,000/- to the complainant within one month from this date, failing which, the said amount shall carry on interest @ 10% p.a. from the date of default till realization.'
The facts of the case, in brief, are that the Respondent/Complainant, a railway employee, with a view to shifting his household commodities from Danapur, Bihar, his erstwhile place of posting to Kolkata his place of posting on transfer, contacted the Appellants/OPs on 08/03/2012 for packing and shifting of the said commodities.
The Appellants/OPs, after inspection of the said commodities, accepted the job at a charge of Rs.27,190/- quoted by him. The journey date being 28/03/2012, it was decided that the Appellants/OPs shall take all action of completing the packaging, loading and unloading etc. by 14.00 hrs on the same day. Unfortunately, due to late arrival of the Appellants OPs with inadequate manpower, stood in the way of the timely completion of packaging etc. which led to the missing of the scheduled train by the Respondent/Complainant and his family on 28/03/2012. The Respondent/Complainant, however, could avail an Express train on the next day after suffering both mentally and financially due to the aforesaid deficiency of service done upon him by the Appellants/OPs.
The packed commodities also did not reach the Respondent/Complainant in time. There was enormous delay in delivery of the articles. Further, as alleged, some of the articles were found damaged and broken, some were missing and at least four packets were not delivered at all. The vehicle which was booked for transportation and was supposed to be delivered within a week time, was delivered absurdly late with its meter reading a run of about 238 Km. within the period of transportation.
The Respondent/Complainant allegedly had to incur additional expenditure for food which, at a new place, he had to outsource. The family members of the Respondent/Complainant, particularly his kid, being not accustomed to hotel food, suffered from stomach upset. This, as alleged, not only caused physical and mental trauma to his family members and kid but also put him to some uncalled for financial implications. Expenditure, as alleged, further spiralled in the form of transport charges because in absence of the personal vehicle, the Respondent/Complainant had to undertake to and fro journey to office by hired taxi.
The Respondent/Complainant paid the entire charge for the job as per quotation given by the Appellants/OPs but, the service that the Appellants /OPs were supposed to deliver, was never delivered, rather, as alleged, the Respondent/Complainant was put to harassment, mental agony and financial loss by the Appellants/OPs through their above mentioned deficiency in service. In fact, as alleged, all efforts of the Respondent/Complainant for recovering the lost, damaged or broken articles had gone in vain, neither the Appellants/OPs, in spite of being requested repeatedly and also through legal notice, took any initiative to compensate for the loss.
The aggrieved Respondent/Complainant, thereafter, filed the Complaint case before the Ld. District Forum which the impugned judgment and order relates to.
Heard Ld. Advocate on behalf of both sides. The Ld. Advocate on behalf of the Appellants/OPs drew the notice of the Bench to the impugned order wherein, as he submitted, an absurdly high compensation of Rs.2,50,000/-together with cost of Rs.20,000/- was ordered to be paid to the Respondent/Complainant by the appellants/OPs.
The Ld. Advocate submitted that the Ld. District Forum, in the impugned order, appears to have been convinced about the delayed delivery of the commodities and vehicle but, was not convinced about the loss of commodities and packets as claimed in the complaint, nor was it convinced about the theft of given volume of petrol remaining in the tank at the time of handing over the vehicle to the Appellants/OPs for transportation.
The Ld. Advocate contended that the Appellants/OPs, in the impugned order, were directed to pay actually a huge amount of compensation for only alleged deficiency of the delayed delivery of the vehicle and commodities which, as contended, happened due to unforeseen adverse circumstances beyond control.
There being no list of item, nor there being any list indicating the number of packets and contents therein, it is very difficult to conclude as to whether the commodities/packets were really missing or broken and if so, what is the actual quantum of loss in terms of money to be compensated for.
Such being the circumstances, the Ld. Advocate prayed for the appeal to be allowed setting aside the impugned judgment and order.
The Ld. Advocate for the Respondent/ Complainant, on the other hand, submitted that there were two vehicles, as it would reveal from the running page 23, used for shifting of the household commodities, of which one reached and the other one did not reach at all. It was submitted by the Ld. Advocate that the Respondent/Complainant suffered mainly due to non-delivery of the four packets wherein some valuable commodities were packed.
Referring to running page 26, being the letter dated 25 06 2012 of the Ld. Advocate on behalf of the Respondent/Complainant, the Ld. Advocate continued that the value of the loss that the Respondent/Complainant had to sustain because of the deficiency in service done by the Appellants/OPs was assessed as Rs.12,57,230/- and a claim for making good the said loss was communicated to Appellants/OPs with no response from them as yet. The long silence against charges alleged in the legal notice indicates only admission of the appellants/OPs to the charges.
The Ld. Advocate submitted further that the entire charges for the jobs done by the Appellants/OPs to the tune of Rs.27,190/- was paid to them but the deserving quality of service was not received which, as contended, resulted in a colossal loss that the Respondent/Complainant had to suffer. The Ld. Advocate prayed for the impugned judgment and order to be affirmed in the light of the above circumstances.
Perused the papers on record. It appears from the Annexure D, running page 25, that the Respondent/Complainant paid the Appellants/OPs the entire charges of Rs.27,190/ for the job. Therefore, as a hirer of service, the Respondent/Complainant was a consumer having claim of due services from the Appellants/OPs, the Service Provider.
The delay in delivery of service, admittedly done by the appellants/OPs, put the Respondent/Complainant in an embarrassing circumstances which caused him to bear additional expenditure and thereby monetary loss.
As regards loss or damage of the commodities and non-delivery of 4 packets, there is no authentic document barring the Respondent/Complainant’s own complaint and the legal notice initiated by the Ld. Advocate at the instance of the Respondent/Complainant, to ascertain the commodities actually lost or damaged.
In absence of any inventory specifying the packets and contents therein, the Respondent/Complainant could not prove the quantum of actual loss suffered.
We have gone through page No. 23(Annexure D) which is only a piece of paper having some information about vehicles and also the name of the Respondent/OP’s organization but, not revealing any authenticity facilitating the same to be considered as a corroborative evidence towards utilization of two vehicles for carriage of the commodities, as claimed by the Ld. Advocate on behalf of the Respondent/Complainant.
Further, becoming non-responsive to any communication, as has been done by the appellants/OPs in regard to the legal notice on behalf of the Respondent/Complainant, does not amount to an admission to the charges, as claimed.
In the above consideration, we are of the consid
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ered view that there is only deficiency in service due to delayed delivery of the commodities which put the Respondent/complainant to some uncalled for mental agony, health hazard, harassment and expenditure. We, however, are unable to agree with the disproportionately high compensation awarded to the Respondent/Complainant to be paid by the Appellants/OPs as directed in the impugned order. We, therefore, are inclined to reduce the compensation and cost and direct as under:- The Appeal is allowed in part modifying the impugned judgment and order to the effect that the Appellants/OPs shall pay a litigation cost of Rs.2,000/-and compensation of Rs.5,000/-to the Respondent/ Complainant within 45 days from the date of this order, failing which, simple interest @9% shall accrue to the total amount of Rs.7,000/-from the date of default till the amount is fully realized. The impugned order is modified to the extent as stated above.