VINEETA RAI, MEMBER
This revision petition has been filed by Avtar Singh Randhawa (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Petitioner’) being aggrieved by the order of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Punjab (hereinafter referred to as the 'State Commission') in Appeal No.995/2006 wherein M/s Worldwide Immigration Consultancy Services Ltd. was the Respondent.
The facts of the case, according to the Petitioner who was the original complainant before the District Forum are that he had availed the services of Respondent who are providing consultancy service to intending immigrants to Canada. Petitioner paid the Respondent a total of Rs.40,000/- which included Rs.15,000/- in the form of a demand draft as visa fee to be given to the Canadian High Commission and paid US $ 800 in favour of the Worldwide Immigration Services, Canada. After preparing all the documents as directed by the Respondent, he came to know after 2 years that he did not qualify for immigration to Canada because he had not cleared the IELTS Examination by scoring at least 7 bands. According to the Petitioner, due to misleading information given by the Respondent, he had lost 3 precious years waiting for his migration to Canada. He, therefore, sought refund of the amount from the Respondent who, however, refused to return this amount. Alleging deficiency in service, Petitioner filed a complaint before the District Forum requesting that Respondent be directed to refund Rs.40,000/- plus US$ 800 along with interest @ 12% per annum in addition to Rs.10,000/- as litigation cost and Rs.3,50,000/- as compensation for mental agony and harassment.
Respondent on the other hand denied the above contentions and stated that the present complaint is pre-mature as his application for immigration to Canada is still pending with the Canadian High Commission. Further, not being a Visa issuing authority, Respondent could only assist the Petitioner in processing the case for immigration and give him necessary guidance. Respondent is not in a position to expedite the immigration clearance for which the authority is the Canadian High Commission.
The District Forum after hearing both parties and considering the evidence on record concluded that since the case for immigration of the Petitioner is still under process with the Canadian High Commission, the present complaint is premature and infructuous and, therefore, dismissed the same with no order as to costs.
Aggrieved by this order, Petitioner filed an appeal with the State Commission which dismissed the appeal by observing as follows:
'We had an occasion to consider a similar point in First Appeal No.1576 of 2005 'Worldwide Immigration Consultancy Services Limited & Anr.Vs. JoginderSingh Bharti decided on 10.05.2006 by which the appeal of Worldwide Immigration Consultancy Services Ltd. was allowed by holding that the IELTS examinations must be cleared by the complainant.
In our view, this appeal is squarely covered by the judgment of this Commission in Joginder Singh Bharti’s case (supra) and is dismissed in the same terms as in Joginder Singh Bharti’s case(supra). The judgment in Joginder Singh Bharti’s case(supra) will form part of this judgment. The appeal is dismissed in limine.'
Hence, the present revision petition.
Learned Counsel for both parties made oral submissions. Counsel for Petitioner while reiterating the stand taken by the Petitioner before the Fora below stated that he had availed the services of the Respondent to get an immigration visa in 2001 which has still not been given to him. According to him, Respondent is guilty of giving misleading information and deficiency in service and therefore, now at least the amount paid to the Respondent i.e. Rs.25,000/- plus US $ 800 should be returned to him with interest since the latter was paid to the Respondent’s agency in Canada.
Counsel for Respondent on the other hand stated that the complaint of the Petitioner is premature because his case is still pending with the Canadian High Commission and his application for immigration has not been rejected. It was explained that because of the large pendency of such requests there is a long queue and the applications are decided when the turn of the applicants comes in the queue. Counsel for Respondent further stated that the fees paid by the Petitioner was to avail of services which Respondent had satisfactorily done through guiding the Respondent to complete the required formalities and ensuring that all the papers were presented to the Canadian High Commission including the Visa fees properly. Therefore, there was no deficiency in service on the part of the Respondent.
We have heard the learned Counsel for both parties and have carefully gone through the evidence on record. It is a fact that the Petitioner approached the Respondent in 2001 for availing its services in connection with his proposed immigration to Canada for which the Respondent helped the Petitioner with preparing necessary documents etc. including transmitting the Visa fee to the Canadian High Commission. It is also a fact that the Petitioner’s case is pending with the Canadian High Commission undoubtedly because of the large number of such applications and, therefore, there is force in the contention of the Counsel for Respondent that the Petitioner’s case will be decided when his turn comes in the queue. While it is a fact that a decision on the immigration visa has not been taken for the above reasons and as observed by the District Forum that the complaint is thus premature, it is also a fact that 10 years have passed since Petitioner made plans to migrate to Canada and it is still uncertain as to what would be the outcome of his Immigration Visa application since during the interim period, the criteria for immigration etc. may have changed. Therefore, we feel that it is reasonable for the Petitioner to seek refund of the amount from the Respondent. Counsel for Respondent while stating that the decision to grant the immigration visa or otherwise was not in Respondent’s hand, fairly
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concedes that 10 years is indeed a long period for an applicant to wait for a visa and under the circumstances, it could be well understood that the Respondent was perhaps no longer sure whether he would still like to migrate. Though, there is no deficiency in service per se on the part of the Respondent, keeping in view the above facts, we are of the view that the Respondent should refund Rs.25,000/- (i.e. Rs.40,000/- - Rs.15,000/- which is visa fees) to the Petitioner with interest @ 6% from the date of deposit till the date of payment within 8 weeks failing which interest @ 9% will also be applicable on this amount. The revision petition is disposed of on the above terms.