R.K. Verma, Judicial Member
1. This appeal has been preferred under Section 15 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (hereinafter called as the Act) against order dated 24.7.2019 passed by District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Solan, whereby Complaint No. 3/2019 filed by the complainant under Section 12 of the Act was dismissed.
2. Briefly stated, facts giving rise to the present appeal are that the appellant had filed the aforesaid complaint before the Fora below with the averments that he had purchased Rural Life Insurance Policy from the respondent for assured sum of Rs. 10 lacs on payment of annual premium of Rs. 25,883. The respondent had issued him policy bond, Annexure A-1 and receipt, Annexure A-2. As per instructions printed on the back side of the receipt the grace period of payment of premium has been mentioned as one month, 45 days and 75 days for policies providing payment of premium on monthly, quarterly, half yearly and yearly basis respectively. As the complainant had opted for payment of premium on yearly basis she was entitled for grace period of 75 days in view of the instructions printed on the receipt. The grievance of the applicant is that on 6.11.2017 when she made payment of the renewal annual premium, she was charged Rs. 62 as late fee. On her protest vide e-mail, Annexure A-3, the late fee charged from him was refunded by the respondent. Thereafter, on 22.10.2018 when he again made payment of the second renewal payment, he was charged Rs. 21 as late fee. She again protested vide e-mail dated 27.12.2018 but her protest was rejected by the respondent vide letter dated 9.1.2019 and on the basis of letter dated 22.1.2016, she was advised to pay future premium within a grace period of 30 days. According to the appellant the act on the part of the opposite party in charging late fee from her is against contract entered into by her with the postal department as no such condition has ever been explained to her before acceptance of the contract. Hence she has prayed for issuance of directions to the respondent to allow her a grace period of 75 days for making payment of future annual premiums and also to refund the aforesaid late fee amount alongwith a sum of Rs. 10,000 as compensation in lieu of mental harassment and Rs. 5,000 as litigation charges.
3. The respondent has resisted and contested the claim made by the appellant in her complaint by filing its reply in which various preliminary objections against the maintainability have been taken. On merits, the purchase of the insurance policy in question by the appellant on payment of annual premium is not disputed by the respondent. It is also not disputed by the respondent that late fee was charged from the appellant on payment of first renewal premium which was subsequently refunded to her. It is also not disputed by the respondent that late fee was charged from the appellant on payment of second renewal premium and the representation made by the appellant for refund of the late fee was rejected. However, the respondent has pleaded that as per policy in question; the grace period was only upto the last day of the calendar month for which premium was due and this condition has also been incorporated in the policy bond on the basis of Rule 25 of Post Office Postal Life Insurance Rules, 2011. The grace period of 30 days, 45 days, 60 days and 75 days respectively provided for the similar policies issued before 22.1.2016 has been withdrawn vide letter dated 22.1.2016 and thereafter grace period of 30days has been provided to make payment of annual premium. As regards instructions printed on the receipt form it has been submitted that prior to 22.1.2016 receipts have been printed in bulk and conditions printed thereon were printed on the basis of earlier rules. The respondent has further explained that the late fee charged from the appellant for payment of the first renewal premium were refunded to her by mistake and her request for refund of subsequent late fee was rejected and she was apprised that the policy in question was governed by the terms and conditions contained in the policy and she was advised to make payment of annual premium within stipulated grace period of 30 days. Hence, the respondent has prayed for dismissal of this complaint.
4. The complainant has filed rejoinder in which she has denied the pleadings of the respondent and reaffirmed the averments made by her in the complaint.
5. The parties have led oral as well as documentary evidence in support of their respective cases.
6. The learned District Forum after hearing the parties and going through the record dismissed the complaint vide order dated 24.7.2019.
7. Feeling aggrieved by the impugned order dated 24.7.2019 the appellant has filed the instant appeal inter alia on the ground that the same is against facts and law and that the learned fora below has not considered the pleadings and evidence in its right prospective and as such the same is not sustainable and deserves to be set aside.
8. The parties have filed written submissions and we have gone through the same and also carefully perused the record of the case.
9. The dispute between the parties in the instant case lies in a narrow compass. Case of the appellant is that there is grace period of 75 days for payment of annual renewal premium. On the other hand the respondent has pleaded that the grace period is of 30 days only.
10. The relationship between the parties is contractual and as such they are bound by the terms and conditions contained in the policy. A perusal of the policy, Annexure A-1, would reveal that the same has been issued subject to the provisions contained under Post Office Life Insurance Rules, 2011. Rule 25 of these rules provides for period of grace. It reads as under:
“25. Period of Grace shall extend upto the last day of the calendar month for which the premium is due or the day before the last day if the day before the last day of the month falls on Sunday or postal holiday.”
11. Thus, as per the aforesaid rules there is grace period of 30 days only for payment of the renewal premiums. This condition has also been incorporated in the policy, Annexure A-1 as condition No. 5. If this condition was not explained to the complainant by the respondent at the time of purchasing the policy as contended by her or this condition was not acceptable to her in that case after receiving the policy bond she would have got the policy cancelled within free look in period of 15 days as provided under the policy. But she did not opt to do so which means that she had accepted this condition. Moreover, the grace period of 30 days is statutory period contained under the Post Office Life Insurance Rules, 2011. Under these rules, there is no provision for extension of the grace period. In view of this the prayer of the complainant that directions be issued to the respondent to allow her a grace period of 75 days for making payment of the future annual premiums cannot be allowed as the same would be contrary to the statutory provisions which is not permissible under law.
12. As regards prayer next prayer of the complainant for refund of the late fee is concerned this prayer is also not legally tenable. The respondent has charged the late fee as per rules. It is true that late fee charged from the appellant for payment of first renewal premium was refunded to her by the respondent. The respondent has explained that this was done under mistake. If some official of the respondent has committed mistake and refunded the late fee to the appellant contrary to the statutory provisions the same would not create a legally enforceable right in the complainant to claim refund of the subsequent late fee charged from her as per rules. The complainant had mainly relied upon the instructions printed on the back side of the receipt which provide for grace period of 75 days in case of payment of annual premiums. But the liability of the appellant to pay the premium is contractual as per terms and conditions contained in the policy, Annexure A-1 and not on the basis of the instructions contained on the reverse of the receipt which is not a part of the contract. The respondent has explained that the receipts which were used were printed in bulk on the basis of the old instructions. The instructions printed on the back side of the receipt which were printed on the basis of the old instructions remained in force in respect to the policies issued uptill January 2016 and thereafter Post Office Life Insurance Rules, 2011 providing for 30 days grace period were enforced as is evident from letter, Annexure A-6 issued by the department of the respondent. The instructions printed on the back side of the receipts had also become redundant after 2011 rules were enforced. The appella
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nt had purchased the policy on 7.9.2016 and as such old instructions printed on the back side of the receipt are not applicable to her. In view of this, the respondent has rightly rejected her request to refund the late fee charged from her. 13. As a sequel of our above discussion, we hold that the impugned order dated 24.7.2019 passed by the learned District Forum, Solan, does not suffer from any legal infirmity and as such the instant appeal filed by the appellant/complainant is devoid of any merit and is accordingly dismissed. The parties are, however, left to bear their own costs. 14. Certified copy of order be transmitted to parties free of costs strictly as per rules. File of District Commission alongwith certified copy of order be sent back forthwith for information and file of State Commission be consigned to record room after due completion. F.A. No. 298/2019 is disposed of. Pending application(s) if any also disposed of. Appeal dismissed.