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Pranayjit Bose v/s Post Master General, West Bengal Circle

    Revision Petition No. 211 of 2017 in Appeal No. 173 of 2014

    Decided On, 22 June 2017

    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC

    By, MEMBER

    For the Petitioner: In Person. For the Respondent: --------

Judgment Text

Ajit Bharihoke, Presiding Member

1. Petitioner being aggrieved of the order of the State Commission West Bengal dated 21.12.2016 in FA No.173/2014 has filed the present revision petition.

2. Briefly stated, the facts relevant for the disposal of the revision petition are that petitioner complainant on 18.06.2013 sent a speed post letter addressed to General Manager BSNL Kolkata Telephone. The letter was received back undelivered after 15 days with the remarks 'insufficient address'. It is also the case of the complainant that during a subsequent visit to the Telephone Bhawan, the complainant found that there was a reception counter at the ground floor of the building to receive the letters from general public / delivery peon. Holding the opposite party responsible for negligent behaviour, the complainant filed consumer complaint in District Forum Kolkata, Unit II.

3. The opposite party failed to respond to the notice of the complaint. As such, was proceeded ex parte.

4. The District Forum on consideration of evidence adduced by the petitioner allowed the complaint and directed the opposite party to pay a sum of Rs.3000/- to the complainant as compensation for negligence and deficiency in service. Rs.2000/- was also awarded as litigation cost. It was also ordered that if the awarded amount is not paid within one month from the date of the order, the opposite party shall pay punitive damage of Rs.100 for each day’s delay till the satisfaction of the order.

5. The appellant being aggrieved of the order of the District Forum approached State Commission West Bengal in appeal mainly on the ground that District Forum had failed to appreciate that there were several General Managers of BSNL having their office at the given address. Therefore, in absence of the proper description of the department of General Manager to whom the speed post mail was addressed, the mail could not be delivered and it was returned with the remarks 'Not mentioned department, Insufficient address'.

6. The State Commission on consideration of record and submissions made on behalf of the parties found merit in the plea taken by the respondent opposite party. Accordingly appeal was allowed and order of the District Forum was set aside with following observations:

'Be that as it may, coming to the merit of the case, it is clarified by the appellant that insofar as more than one General Manager of M/s BSNL are housed at the given address, mentioning of concerned department was of paramount importance to enable them to ensure proper delivery of the mail.

No doubt, unless complete/ proper address is given by the sender of a mail, it becomes a tough ask for the postal authorities to locate the actual addressee. Had the postal authorities delivered the mail to a wrong person, let us not forget that, it would have landed them in a fix. Certainly, as a responsible service provider of repute, the appellant could ill afford such faux pass on its part.

There can be no two opinions as to the fact that the entire onus of putting correct and complete address of the addressee was upon the respondent, which as it appears, he miserably failed to ensure. Therefore, to blame the appellant for his own gaffe, in our considered opinion, was totally uncalled for. The respondent should have kept in mind that it is not the responsibility of the Postal authority to speculate the intended addressee of a postal mail. Postal department can be held liable in case despite having complete/ correct address, it fails to ensure timely and safe delivery of a mail, otherwise not. Thus, we find no laches on the part of the appellant behind return of the Speed Post mail.

In the given circumstances, the impugned order cannot be justified under any circumstances. However, it does appear to us that the District Forum derived at such erroneous inference and decreed the case in favour of the respondent as the appellant could not defend its case before the District Forum, thanks to the inherent defect with the cause title of the complaint case that cropped up due to visible haste/ oversight/ failure of the respondent to mention proper address of the appellant in the cause title of the case.

There being nothing to point out any sort of laches on the part of the appellant, the impugned order is not sustainable and as such, the same is hereby set aside'.

7. The petitioner has assailed the order of the State Commission on the ground that State Commission has failed to appreciate that subject mail was addressed to General Manager, Calcutta Telephones. Therefore, the postman ought to have delivered the subject mail at the reception counter of the Telephone Bhawan. We do not find any merit in the above contention. T

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he State Commission has rightly observed in the impugned order that when there are more than one General Manager dealing with various departments of BSNL housed at the Telephone Bhawan, unless the specific details of the General Manager with department is not mentioned at the address, the postal authorities cannot locate the right person for delivery of the mail. Thus, we do not find infirmity in the impugned order which may call for interference in exercise of revisional jurisdiction. Revision Petition is, therefore, dismissed.