The Apex Consumer Court has directed the Indian Postal Service to pay Rs. 24.8 lakhs to two brothers towards the maturity value of the small savings scheme certificates bought for them by their late father but were lost. The Commission directed the department to pay Rs. 16 lakhs to Chaggan Lal Jain and Rs. 8.80 lakhs to his brother Jambu Kumar Jain.
In two separate but common orders, the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) said that since there were no claimants for the amount, the post office could not have appropriated the entire amount forever due to non-submission of the certificates.
In the said case, Ram Chandra Jain, father of Chhagan Lal Jain and Jambu Kumar Jain had purchased 692 IVPs (Indira Vikas Patras) from Head Post Office, Bolangir. All the 692 IVPs were lost and the same was reported to Tusura Police Station. The OIC Tusura Police Station further intimated the fact to Superintendent of Post Office, Bolangir, requesting the postal department to stay payment of maturity values of the lost IVPs without proper verification.
Out of the 692, 88 IVPs were in favour of Jambu Kumar whereas 160 were in favour of Chhagan Lal, however, all of the 692 IVPs were lost. Chaggan Lal had raised a demand of Rs. 16,00,000/- towards maturity value of 160 IVPs and Jambu Kumar Jain raised a demand of Rs. 8,80,000/- towards maturity value of 88 IVPs.
The district forum, had in 2016 ordered the post office to release payment of the maturity value of 160 IVPs amounting to Rs. 16,00,000/- and 88 IVPs amounting to Rs. 8,80,000/-to both the brothers after furnishing an indemnity bond within 35 days of the order. Non-compliance of the said order would lead to a penalty of Rs. 20/- per day till realization. When approached, the State Commission had dismissed the post office's appeal against which it had moved NCDRC.
The National Commission rejected the revision petition and upholds the decision of the District Forum and stated that the father of Jain’s brother had purchased 160 IVPs and 88 IVP for a total amount of Rs. 16 lakhs and Rs. 8.8 lakhs, respectively. The same were lost and a Police Complaint was filed. The claim of the Respondent on maturity was rejected. Several years have elapsed and the amount deposited still lies with the Postal Department. So far there appears no other claimant for the amount. It certainly cannot be the case of the Petitioner to appropriate the entire amount forever, since the lost documents has not been submitted to them. It is but fair and reasonable that after proper verification and taking due precautions like indemnity bond etc., the Department after securing its interests, should at least pay the maturity value to the Respondent, after having not succeeded in the several rounds of litigation.
The National Commission way back in the year 2002, in a matter of Ram Nath Mathuria Vs. Union of India & Ors. in R.P. No. 1725/2001 decided on 07.03.2002 has elaborately discussed the issues and directed the department to release the money as sufficient time had elapsed since the date of maturity and said that in the absence of any other claim on the basis of the original IVPs, maturity value should be released in favour of the claimants after taking an indemnity bond to secure interest of the department. Therefore, it clearly appears that there is no error in the order passed by the District Forum.
In this case, the Jain brothers had not left any stone unturned and won the case against the Postal Department even there were several rounds of litigation in various courts. The Court processes might be lengthy due to which a consumer can also lose hope but what is important to have faith in judicial system along with having confidence to go to any extent to fight your case just like Jain brothers did in this case.