J.S.Klar, Presiding Member (J) -
(1.) THIS appeal has been filed by the appellants, who are opposite parties before the District Forum, against the order dated 26.2.2013 passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (in short, "the District Forum"), Moga. The brief facts are that Sh. Sham Lal Aggarwal, respondent/complainant filed the complaint under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (in short, "the Act"), on the allegations that the scheme for opening the PF account in the Post Office under Public Provident Fund Scheme, 1968, wherein the consumers would get 8.80% interest per annum. The complainant opened HUF Public Provident Fund Account No. 1100042 therein by depositing his savings from 1988 onwards. The account was firstly opened for 15 years and it was extended for further 5 years on 29.3.2004 and was again extended for further 5 years on 30.3.2009. The scheme was, thus, valid upto 31.3.2009 and the scheme remained valid uptil 31.3.2014. The complainant has been regularly depositing his savings in the above account since 1988 and they have been credited in the passbook of complainant by duly calculating them. The last entered amount in the passbook of the complainant on 31.3.2012 is Rs. 7,42,472. The complainant received a letter dated 4.12.2012 from the opposite parties to the effect that the account of the complainant has been closed in the year 2009. The complainant would get interest on his saving upto 31.3.2009 i.e. Rs. 5,80,476 and Rs. 10,000 which the complainant deposited on 28.3.2011. The total amount, thus, came to Rs. 5,90,476. The complainant was denied interest for the period 2009 -10, 2010 -11, 2011 -12 and from 31.3.2012 till date by the opposite parties, whereby his amount would have toted up to Rs. 7,89,730. It was not clarified by the opposite parties, if the account of complainant was closed in the year 2009, then how the account was extended by the opposite parties on 30.3.2009 for further 5 years and how the amount of Rs. 10,000 was credited by the complainant on 28.3.2011 and further was entered in his passbook. The complainant never took any loan from the opposite parties against this account nor he withdrew any such amount therefrom. The complainant is consumer and opposite parties are the service provider. The complainant has filed the complaint, directing the opposite parties to pay the amount of Rs. 7,42,472 along with interest @ 8.80% p.a. uptil 31.3.2012 and the amount of Rs. 50,000 as compensation for mental tension and harassment and Rs. 40,000 as litigation expenses.
(2.) UPON notice, the opposite parties filed written reply, raising preliminary objections that the complaint is not maintainable in the present form. The complainant has not come to the Forum with clean hands and complaint is without any cause of action. The complainant firstly opened PPF/HUF account for 15 years at Moga Head Office and further extended for block of 5 years and was further extended for 5 years. The 2nd extension was irregular vide notification of Ministry of Finance dated 7th December, 2010 as PPF/HUF account opened prior to 13.5.2005 shall be closed after expiry of 15 years from the end of the year in which the initial subscription was made and the entire amount standing at the credit of the subscriber would be refunded after making adjustment, if any. No interest is to be paid on PPF/HUF account after 31.3.2011. Entry of interest has been irregularly made, if any, in the passbook of the complainant. The opposite parties further averred that notices dated 4.12.2012 and 14.12.2012 were duly sent to the complainant with the request to close his account earlier and no interest shall be paid to him after 31.3.2011 as per the notification of the Central Govt. dated 4.12.2012. The opposite parties prayed for dismissal of the complaint. The complainant tendered in evidence his affidavit Ex. A/1 along with Ex. A -2 intimation addressed to the complainant and Ex. A -3 to Ex. A -11 are the entries of the passbook of the complainant. As against it, the opposite party relied upon affidavit of Makhan Singh, Superintendent, Post Office, Faridkot Ex. R -1. On conclusion of evidence and arguments, the District Forum partly accepted the complaint of the complainant, directing the opposite parties to pay Rs. 7,42,472 along with reasonable rate of interest on saving bank account from 1.12.2012 till actual payment. Aggrieved by the above impugned order, the appellants/opposite parties have come up in the present appeal.
(3.) WE have heard learned Counsel for the parties at considerable length and have also examined the record of the cases. Simple point for adjudication in this appeal is whether the complainant is entitled to any interest after issuance of notification dated 7th December, 2010 by the Central Government or not? The notification is law of the land and it has the force of law. Nobody can plead ignorance of law nor it is an excuse to do so. On the basis of this notification of the Central Govt. dated 7.12.2010, we proceed to dispose of the matter in question. As per allegations of the complainant, he started depositing in this account his savings under the above scheme in the Public Provident Fund of opposite parties since 1988. There is no denial to this effect by the opposite parties as well. Even from the copy of passbook Ex. A -13, the first subscription of Rs. 100 is dated 28.3.1988. The above referred deposit was started by the complainant in the above scheme in the year 1988 as per the entries on passbook Ex. A -3 to Ex. A -11 on the record and as well as the pleas of both the sides. Now the complainant wants the refund of the amount of Rs. 7,42,472 along with interest @ 8.80% p.a. after 31.3.2012 as recorded in his passbook entries. What weightage has to be attached to the entries to the passbook, has to be examined by us. The notification dated 7.12.2010 vide GSR 956(E) of Central Govt. has been brought to our notice and copy thereof is also on the record. This notification relates to scheme under Public Provident Fund Amendment Scheme, 2010 and it was laid down as follows:
"Provided further that an account opened on behalf of Hindu Undivided Family prior to the 13th day of May, 2005 shall be closed after expiry of fifteen years from the end of the year in which the initial subscription was made and the entire amount standing at the credit of the subscriber shall be refunded after making adjustments, if any, in respect of any interest due from the subscriber on loans taken by him. In the case of accounts opened on behalf of Hindu Undivided Family, where fifteen years from end of the year in which initial subscription was made, has already been completed, they shall be closed at the end of the current year i.e. the 31st day of March, 2011 and the entire amount standing at the credit of the subscriber shall be refunded, after making adjustments, if any, in respect of any interest due from the subscriber on loans taken by him.";