At, Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Thiruvananthapuram
By, THE HONOURABLE SHRI. JUSTICE K.R. UDAYABHANU PRESIDENT & THE HONOURABLE MR. S. CHANDRAMOHAN NAIR MEMBER
For the Appellant : Vettoor S. Prakash, Advocate. For the Respondents : S.Reghukumar, Advocate.
JUSTICE SHRI. K.R. UDAYABHANU: PRESIDENT
The appellants are the opposite parties in CC.88/08 in the file of CDRF, Ernakulam. The appellants are under orders to refund Rs.30,000/- with interest at 12% per annum from the date of receipt (30.06.07) of the amount till realization.
2. It is the case of the complainants that the opposite parties 2 and 3, the Branch Manager and Relationship Executive of the 1st opposite party, Immigration Consultancy Services approached the complainants and offered to arrange the job of motor mechanic for the 1st complainant, brother of the 2nd complainant. It was assured that the monthly salary would be Rs.1.5.lakhs. The 2nd complainant paid a sum of Rs.30,000/- towards service charges on 30.6.2007. As directed by the opposite party the duly filled up application form dated:03.08.2007 was entrusted with the opposite parties along with educational qualification certificates and experience certificates. A DD for 300 Australian dollars dated:2.8.07 in favour of Trade Recognition Australia(TRA) was also entrusted. The opposite party vide letter dated:23.8.07 informed the complainants that they have already forwarded the application form to TRA. A communication dated:7.12.2007 was received by the complainant from the particular department of Australian Government informing that TRA are no longer the designated assessing authority from 1.9.2007 onwards and that the new authority is VETASSESS, along with other documents including the application. With the above intimation, the forwarding letter dated 30.11.2007 of the opposite parties were also returned to the complainant.
3. It was found from the forwarding letter that the application dated:3.8.2007 was sent belatedly and that it was received by TRA only on 7.12.2007. It was found that the first page of the application form has been changed and inserted another page with the forged the signature of the complainant and the date as 20.8.2007. It is also learnt that the opposite parties have forged a false affidavit with the help of a Notary from Chennai. The complainants demanded the return of the amount of Rs.30,000/- paid as service charges vide letter dated:27.12.2007. Although it was assured that the amount will be paid subsequently they retreated from the promise. The complainant is filed for realization for a sum of Rs.60,000/- including damages with interest at 12% etc.
4. In the joint version filed by the opposite parties it is asserted that the application was forwarded on 23.8.2007 within 3 days from the receipt of application and documents. It is stated that the new policy of the Government abroad came into existence with effect from 4.9.2007 although the complainant had already submitted the application before TRA through the opposite party on 23.8.07. It is on 12.10.07 that the opposite party received letter from the Australian Government mentioning that the assessment authority is no longer TRA and that the new authority is VETASSESS. The opposite parties have also produced the relevant records in this regard. It is contended that the opposite parties has been assisting the complainant since June 2007 with respect to the processing of migration, the preparation of this immigration file, verifying credentials and communicating his case with their office in Australia and the Australian authorities. As per the contract the service charges are to be paid in 2 instalments ie Rs.30,000/- at the time of execution of the contract and balance of Rs.20,000/- after the receipt of the Skills Assessment Result. As per the contract the complainants are not entitled for any refund in case the client shows disinterest or does not co-operate in fulfilling the purpose of the contract. The opposite parties have processed the relevant papers and communicated with their head office, office in Australia and the Australian authorities and with the High commission etc. The opposite parties have denied liability to refund the amount or to pay the compensation.
5. Evidence adduced consisted of the testimony of PW1, DW1, Exts.A1 to A7, B1 to B8.
6. The Forum has allowed the complaint stressing the fact that there was delay in forwarding the application to the TRA.
7. As pointed out by the counsel for the respondents/ complainants in Ext.A2 application form returned from the concerned department of the Government of Australia the date seal of receipt is 7.12.07. Ext.A3 forwarding letter is seen dated:23.8.07. The complainants have submitted the application on 3.8.2007. It is seen that DD is dated:2.8.2007. Hence the case of the complainants that the filled up application was handed over to the opposite parties on 3.8.2007 appears true. The case of the complainants that the first page of Ext.A2 application has been changed and the date is put as 20.8.07 instead of 3.8.07. As per Ext.A4 forwarding letter returned from the TRA, the same is dated:30.11.07. Evidently there is a delay of about 4 months in forwarding the application which has been submitted on 3.8.07. The competent authority was changed with effect from 1.9.07 as evident from Ext.A5. There is no dispute on the above point. Had the opposite parties forwarded the application soon after receipt of the same from the complainant ie on 3.8.07 perhaps TRA would have been able to forward the same after clearance. It is the case of the opposite parties that they have an office in Australia and that they have corresponded with their office in Australia and their office in Delhi etc. Being specialized in immigration matters, the opposite parties should have been aware of the fact of change of the designated authority from TRA to VETASSES instantly. As evident from Ext.A4 it is only on 30.11.07 that the application etc has been forwarded. It is inconceivable that their office in Australia was not aware of the change of authority that came into effect on 1.9.07
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which is 3 months prior to the date of forwarding of the application. We find that there is serious lapse on the part of the opposite parties. There is no scope for interference in the order of the Forum. Further the Forum has only directed to pay refund of Rs.30,000/-. The order of the Forum is confirmed and the appeal is dismissed. The opposite parties/appellants are directed to make the payment within two months from the date of receipt of this order failing which the complainant will be entitled for interest at 18% from 30.9.2011, the date of this order. Office will forward the LCR along with a copy of this order to the Forum.