At, Andhra Pradesh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Hyderabad
By, SMT. M. SHREESHA
By, HONBLE MEMBER & SRI K. SATYANAND
By, HONBLE MEMBER
Counsel for the Appellants: M/s. Gopi Rajesh Associates. Counsel for the Respondent: Mr. V. Gowrisankar Rao
Oral Order: (Per Smt M. Shreesha, Hon?ble Member)
Aggrieved by the order in C.D.No.312/2007 on the file of District Forum-1, Visakhapatnam, opposite parties preferred this appeal.
The brief facts of the case are as follows:
The complainant is a permanent resident of Visakhapatnam and working as Lead Engineer in HCL at Noida, near Delhi and he was transferred to Chennai. Opposite parties 1 and 2 are branch office at New Delhi and Head office at Mumbai respectively involved in the transport business for transport of goods and house hold articles from place to place within India and the third opposite party is authorized to deliver the goods on behalf of opp.parties 1 and 2. The complainant approached the first opp.party and requested to transport the entire house hold articles to Visakhapatnam and paid Rs.8,000/- towards transport charges. The opposite party no.1 packed all the house hold articles of complainant in 8 cartons and booked the consignment on 18.1.2007 under consignment note no.409. On 12.2.2007 the consignment reached Visakhapatnam and before accepting the consignment, the complainant noticed six cartons instead of eight and he also noticed that three cartons were in open condition out of which one was half carton. An endorsement was made on the consignor?s copy about missing of 2 cartons. The complainant issued legal notice to the opposite parties under Section 10 of Carriers Act but there was no response from the opposite parties. Hence the complainant approached the District Forum to direct the opposite parties to pay a sum of Rs.2,10,199/-, to pay Rs.4 lakhs towards damages towards mental agony and to pay costs.
The first opposite party filed counter admitting that the complainant had booked 8 cartons and contending that at the time of booking, the opposite parties insisted that the complainant should take insurance for the goods booked, but the complainant refused. The opposite party stated that while the truck was on the way the Tarpaulin and rope that tied were broken and some cartons were misplaced and the driver immediately lodged a complaint with Nimod Police Chowki at Gurgaon. The opposite party states that they have issued a reply to the legal notice of the complainant and there is no deficiency in service on their part and prayed for dismissal of the complaint with costs.
Opposite party no.2 adopted the counter of opposite party no.1. Opposite party no3 remained exparte.
The District Forum based on the evidence adduced i.e. Exs.A1 to A8 and Exs.B1 & B2 documents and pleadings put forward allowed the complaint directing the opposite parties to pay Rs.1,50,000/- towards loss of valuables and to pay Rs.50,000/- towards compensation and to pay Rs.1,500/- towards costs.
Aggrieved by the said order opposite parties preferred this appeal.
The learned counsel for the appellants/opposite parties submitted that the respondent/complainant failed to produce the cost of said item receipts before the District Forum and simply contended that he lost valuable articles worth Rs.1,51,000/- and Rs.31,150/-. The alleged value of the items lost in the cartons is not at all known to the appellants. He further contended that when the truck driver noticed that the rope covering tarpaulin was broken and some cartons were misplaced, he immediately lodged a police complaint with Nimod Police Chowki at Gurgaon, New Delhi and informed his Head Office, Mumbai. The complainant ought to have insured his material and inspite of the appellant?s suggestion to insure, the respondent/ complainant failed to do so. Hence there is no deficiency in service on their behalf.
We have perused the material on record. The facts not in dispute are that the complainant booked eight cartons with the first opposite party to be transported from Delhi to Visakhapatnam and there was short delivery at the destination. We have perused Ex.A3 which is a consigner copy, on the reverse of it missing items are noted as follows :?1 big VIP suitcase , 1 carton , carton, items from 2 cartons?. This has also been endorsed by truck driver Mr.Saleem . Thus short delivery is not denied. It is the opposite party?s case that the driver gave report to the police and the short delivery is not on account of any willful act, but because of not tying it with a strong enough rope to sustain long distance travel. The contention of the appellants/opposite parties that the consignment was transported at owner?s risk is unsustainable. Having accepted the amount, it is the basic duty of the courier to deliver the consignment in as is and in where is condition. The other contention of the opposite party is that the respondent/complainant ought to have insured the goods is also unsustainable since they have accepted the goods without insurance and have also admitted that the rope tied to tarpaulin broke and therefore the cartons were missing. The District Forum has rightly relied on the decision reported in II (2007) CPJ 1 (SC) between ARAVIND MILLS LTD. Vs. ASSOCIATE ROAD WAYS in which it was observed ?common carrier is fastened with liability irrespective of proof of negligence?. In the instant case admittedly the opposite parties have been negligent in transporting the goods and they themselves admitted that the rope tied to the tarpaulin broke for which act the complainant cannot be made to suffer.The last contention of the appellants/opposite parties is with respect to the amounts awarded by the District Forum. The District Forum relied on the list of items filed by the complainant and awarded Rs.1,50,000/- together with Rs.50,000/- towards compensation. Even in the legal notice the description of the articles is clear which was not controverted by the opposite parties except saying that the material was not insured. Hence we are of the considered view that while Rs.1,50,000/- aw
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arded by the District Forum towards the missing articles can be confirmed we are of the opinion that an amount of Rs.50,000/- towards compensation is excessive and we reduce the same to Rs.10,000/- while confirming the rest of the aspects of the order of the District Forum. Since the District Forum did not award any interest this compensation is being awarded towards mental agony. In the result appeal is allowed in part modifying the order of the District Forum reducing the compensation awarded by the District Forum from Rs.50,000/- to Rs.10,000/- while confirming the rest of the order of the District Forum . Time for compliance four weeks.