Rajesh K. Arya, Member
This appeal has been filed by opposite parties No.1 & 2 (appellants herein) against order dated 03.06.2019 passed by District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum-II, U.T., Chandigarh (now District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission-II, U.T., Chandigarh) [in short ‘District Commission’] vide which consumer complaint No.110 of 2019 filed by the complainant (respondent No.1 herein) was allowed in the following manner:-
“7. In view of the above discussion, the present complaint deserves to be allowed against the OPs and the same is accordingly allowed. The OPs are directed as under:-
[i] To refund Rs.47,000/- i.e. the price of the air ticket to the complainant.
[ii] To pay Rs.4,000/- as compensation for mental agony & physical harassment suffered by the complainant and his family members;
[iii] To pay Rs.2,500/- as costs of litigation.
8. This order be complied with by the OPs within 30 days from the date of receipt of its certified copy, failing which the amount at Sr.No.(i) and (ii) above shall also carry interest @ 9% per annum from the date of this order till its actual payment besides litigation costs.”
2. The case of the complainant before the District Commission was that on 17.12.2018, he purchased Air Ticket of Ukraine International Airlines from Tbilisi to Delhi for 31.12.2018 from Opposite Party No.1 for Rs.47,000/- approximately (Annexure C-1). However, due to business engagement, the complainant changed his programme and requested Opposite Party No.1 on 26.12.2018 to cancel the air ticket and refund the amount thereof but Opposite Party No.1 flatly refused to do so as Opposite Party No.3 directed it not to refund the amount of the air ticket. It was further stated that the complainant remained in constant touch with Opposite Party No.1 for the refund of the money but of no avail.
3. Since notices sent to opposite parties No.1 and 2 were received back with the report of refusal and refusal was a good service and since none appeared on their behalf on the date fixed, therefore, they were also proceeded against exparte by the District Commission vide order dated 15.04.2019. Even despite due service through registered post, when Opposite Party No.3 failed to appear before the District Forum, it was also proceeded against exparte vide order dated 15.04.2019 itself.
4. The complainant led evidence in support of his case.
5. The District Commission, after hearing arguments on behalf of the complainant and going through the record, allowed the complaint, as stated above.
6. The order passed by District Commission, which is under appeal, has been challenged by the appellants on the ground that the complainant has annexed incomplete ticket and no invoice was placed before the District Commission that the price of the ticket was Rs.47,000/-. Reliance has been placed by the appellants on the ticket annexed by them in appeal as Annexure A-1 to show that the amount paid by the complainant was Rs.40,288/- for two persons i.e. Rs.20,144/- each. It was further stated that the District Commission failed to ask the complainant to place on record the invoice and wrongly ordered refund of Rs.47,000/-. It was further stated that the ticket was for two persons i.e. the complainant and his brother but the complaint before the District Commission was filed by the complainant alone seeking refund of the ticket. It was further stated that the District Commission though decided the complaint exparte but it failed to appreciate that the appellants have no role to play in deciding the terms and conditions for cancellation, as they are only a small booking agent. It was further stated that the request of cancellation was to be considered and decided by opposite party No.3 only. It was further stated that the whole of the money paid by the complainant was paid to the airlines and only small amount of commission was left with the appellants. It was further stated that Opposite Party No.3 was only liable to refund the amount.
7. On the other hand, respondent in person argued that the District Commission, after fully appreciating the facts and documentary evidence on record, rightly ordered refund of Rs.47,000/- alongwith compensation and cost of litigation, as the air ticket (Annexure C-1) was refundable as printed on it. The respondent prayed for dismissal of the appeal being devoid of any merit.
8. We have heard the Counsel for the appellants and the respondent in person and have also gone through the written arguments of the appellant & respondent No.2 and record of the case very carefully.
9. As regards the contention that the ticket was for two persons i.e. the complainant and his brother but the complaint before the District Commission was filed by the complainant alone seeking refund of the ticket, it may be stated here that qua this objection, respondent No.1/complainant, namely, Sh. Daljit Singh placed on record of this Commission, authority letter dated 08.09.2021, duly attested by Notary, whereby his brother, namely, Sh. Jagjit Singh S/o Inderjit Singh R/o H.No.2384, Sector 44-C, Chandigarh authorized Sh. Daljit Singh, respondent No.1/complainant to act and appear before the District Commission in complaint case No.110 of 2019 decided on 03.06.2019 for refund of Air Ticket charges and further authorized him (Sh. Daljit Singh) to receive refund amount of air tickets on his behalf and to execute, sign and present all kinds of documents in consumer court under his (Sh. Daljit Singh) signatures. Sh. Jagjit Singh also authorised Sh. Daljit Singh to supply the information/ documents to the Court required from time to time, to make statement and to apply for and obtain the copies of order under his signatures. In this view of the matter, the objection raised stands rejected.
10. Now coming to the merits of the case, vide the impugned order, the District Commission has ordered refund of Rs.47,000/- being the price of the air ticket whereas the appellants have placed on record complete copy of alleged air ticket as Annexure A-1 in appeal, as per which, the total price of the air ticket booked by the complainant and his brother was Rs.40,288/- i.e. Rs. (Rs.20,126.7 INR each) + (Rs.17.7 INR each). Typically, all the evidence has to be laid before the Court where the case is initially filed and tried. In appeal, the appellate court usually evaluates whether the lower court has appreciated the evidence properly or not and whether the law has been interpreted correctly. No doubt, it is true that no new document is to be considered in appeal but the principle of natural justice has to be seen, while deciding an issue, which solely depends of a document, directly clinching the said issue. Undoubtedly, the air ticket, which the complainant placed on record before the District Commission as Annexure C-1, was not complete but it was refundable as the word ‘Refundable’ was written on it under the word “Booked”. Not only this, even the appellants placed on record of appeal copies of emails as Annexures A-2 to A-7, perusal of which transpires that the air ticket was refundable. Thus, the documents, Annexures A-1 to A-14 are permitted to be placed on record. However, in ticket, Annexure C-1, the price of air ticket is not mentioned anywhere. That is why, the District Commission, in the absence of any contest by the opposite parties, who were exparte, raised an adverse inference that the price of the air ticket in question was Rs.47,000/-. Therefore, on the basis of air ticket, Annexure A-1, it is proved on record beyond doubt that the actual price of the air ticket purchased by the complainant and his brother was Rs.40,288/- and not Rs.47,000/-. To this extent, the impugned order needs to be modified.
11. Now coming to the submission of the appellants that they are only a small booking agent and the request of cancellation was to be considered and decided by opposite party No.3 only and it (Opposite Party No.3) was only liable to refund the amount, it may be stated here that the appellants issued air ticket, which was refundable but opposite party No.3 in its email dated 19.05.2021 (treated as its written arguments) has stated that according to the fare rules, the price of the fare is non-refundable and cannot be refunded and the total of all unused airport charges (taxes) and charges (taxes) of the airline, except the service charges and other charges for services which were provided to the passenger can be refunded. The submissions of both the appellants/opposite parties No.1 & 2 and opposite party No.3 are contrary to each other. On one hand, the air ticket issued by the appellants says it to be refundable whereas it is non-refundable as per opposite party No.3. It was for the appellants to confirm, whether the air ticket was refundable or non-refundable before issuing the same to the complainant. As already held in the earlier part of this order, the ticket was refundable as reflected on it. Therefore, for inter se dispute as regards the air ticket to be refundable or not, the complainant could not be made to suffer. Thus, the District Commission rightly allowed the complaint against all the opposite parties i.e. the appellants/opposite parties No.1 & 2 and opposite party No.3. Therefore, this submission of the appellants stands rejected.
12. For the reasons rec
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orded above, the appeal is partly allowed. The impugned order dated 03.06.2019 is modified in the following manner:- 13. The opposite parties i.e. the appellants/opposite parties No.1 & 2 and respondent No.2/opposite party No.3, are jointly and severally, directed to :- [i] To refund Rs.40,288/- i.e. the price of the air ticket to the complainant. [ii] To pay Rs.4,000/- to the complainant as compensation for mental agony & physical harassment suffered by him and his family members; [iii] To pay Rs.2,500/- to the complainant as costs of litigation. This order be complied with by the opposite parties within 30 days from the date of receipt of its certified copy, failing which the amounts at Sr.No.(i) and (ii) above shall also carry interest @9% per annum from the date of this order till its actual payment besides litigation costs. 14. Certified copies of this order be sent to the parties, free of charge. 15. The file be consigned to Record Room, after completion.