At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE J.M. MALIK
By, PRESIDING MEMBER & THE HONOURABLE MR. VINAY KUMAR
For the Petitioners: Sunil Goyal, Advocate. For the Respondent: Sangram S. Saron, Advocate.
Vinay Kumar, Member
The complaint of respondent Ashwani Kumar Bhargav against the revision petitioner/OP was allowed by the District Forum, Nawanshahar. The OP was directed to refund an amount of Rs.1,10,000/- with 9% interest and compensation of Rs.50,000/-. Appeal against this order of the District Forum has been dismissed in the impugned order by the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in FA No.662 of 2007. The State Commission has confirmed the award made by the District Forum and in addition, awarded Rs.20,000/- towards costs. Now in the revision petition before us, OP, M/s. Worldwide Immigration Consultancy Services Ltd. has challenged the award of the State Commission.
2. Records submitted have been carefully perused and two sides heard. Mr. Sunil Goyal Advocate has argued the case of the revision petitioner and Mr. Sangram S. Saron has appeared on behalf of the respondent/Complainant. Counsel for the respondent was permitted time to file his rely to the revision petition. However, no reply has been filed.
3. The facts, in very brief, are that the services of the OP were hired under an agreement of 25.1.2001 for the purposes of immigration to Canada. The requisite fee was paid. However, his application for permanent resident visa was rejected by the concerned authority in the High Commission of Canada.
4. The main ground urged on behalf of the revision petitioner is that the respondent /Complainant was himself at fault in not appearing for the interview. It is therefore contended that the revision petitioner should not be held responsible for the lapse of the Complainant. On this point, a perusal of the complaint petition before the District Forum shows that after payment of fees and submission of documents to the OP, the Complainant was waiting to be informed about the outcome of his application for visa. Instead, he received a legal notice dated 22.8.2006 for non-payment of Rs.31500/- towards the fee. As per the averment in the complaint 'The respondents acted on the assumption that there is non-payment of fee on the part of mine and did not provide efficient and proper services and intentionally with held the letter of interview and other correspondence from me.'
5. In response, the written submission filed by the OPs before the District Forum refers to the additional demand for payment made on the Complainant and states that:-
'The complainant has failed to pay the professional fees of the answering respondents and has also failed to attend the interview which has resulted in rejection of his case vide letter dated 30.8.2006 of the Canadian High Commission which is annexed herewith as Annexure R-10 in which the Canadian High Commission has clearly stated that the complainant has failed to appear for the interview, therefore the answering respondents cannot he held liable for the wrongs committed by the complainant himself i.e. non-cooperation, non payment of dues, non attendance of interview and failure to perform his duties as per the terms and conditions of the contracts.'
6. It is clear from the above, that the response of the OP has chosen not to answer a very direct and categorical allegation in the complaint that the letter of interview was intentionally withheld from the Complainant. However, on consideration of evidence before it, the District Forum has observed that on 29.6.2006 a letter was despatched by the OPs to the Complainant informing him that the OPs have received the interview letter of the Complainant and he was asked to remit US $ 700 + Rs.5000/- towards fee to enable the OPs to release the interview letter. It was also said that the release would be made only on receipt of the draft or conformation from the branch office. This has been deprecated by the District Forum.
7. Considering this, the State Commission has also observed that:-
'The next question would be as to whether the appellants were justified in withholding the interview letter on the ground that the arrears of fee were not paid by the complainant. We are of the opinion that the answer to this question has been rightly determined by the learned District Forum in the negative.'
8. In the course of arguments, counsel for the revision petitioner only reiterated the stand of the OP before the fora below. He, however had no answer for the question how the complainant could be held responsible for non-appearance at interview when the evidence on record shows that the interview letter itself was withheld from him by the OP. Significantly, the letter of interview from the High Commission of Canada to the complainant was itself sent to the address of the OP/WWICS, Chandigarh. It was produced by the counsel for the revision petitioner before this Commission on 21.1.2013.
9. The other ground agitated in the present proceedings is the ground of limitation. According to the revision petitioner, the cause of action arose from the agreement of 25.1.2001 between the two parties while the consumer complaint was filed on 3.10.2006. Theref
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ore, the complaint itself was barred by limitation. This shows an incorrect understanding of the cause of action. The cause of action did not arise in 2001 with the signing of the agreement. It arose in 2006 when the interview letter was withheld from the complainant, resulting in rejection of the visa application itself. 10. In the result, it is held that there are no substantive grounds in the revision petition. It is held to be without merit and dismissed as such. Consequently, impugned order in FA No.662 of 2007 stands confirmed. No order as to costs.