JUDGEMENT

- (1.)THE opposite parties are the appellants.
(2.)THE respondent/complainant filed the complaint praying the Forum to direct the opposite parties to pay Rs.16,910 towards the value of the goods lost in the fire and Rs.10,000 as compensation.
(3.)THE case of the complainant is as follows : The complainant is in the business of manufacturer and distribution of Agarbathies. The 1st opposite party is a company carrying on the business of Public Carriers having branches in different States. 1st opposite party is represented by its General Manager at Secundrabad. The 3rd opposite party is the Branch Manager of Pondicherry Branch. The complainant wanted to despatch a consignment of Agarbathies worth Rs. 16,910 to Aurobindo Ashram, Centre Bungalow, Ahmedabad. The complainant delivered it to the 3rd opposite party for transport to the above consignee on 18.2.2003 under lorry receipt No. FZ 30443. The invoice was also drawn giving full details of the consignment and handed over to the 3rd opposite party. The goods were despatched at the carriers risk. The goods booked with 3rd opposite party was not delivered to the consignee. On 6.3.2003 by letter the 3rd opposite party informed the complainant that the consignment had been burnt in transit in Chitradurga, Karnataka State. The complainant was asked to send the invoice copy. The complainant complied with the requirements by letter dated 11.2.2003 and requested the 3rd opposite party to arrange for refund of total amount of loss as the complainant has to replace the consignment to consignee. The Bangalore office of the 1st opposite party informed the consignee that the consignment was destroyed by fire on 24.2.2003 and they also enclosed the copy of FIR and Survey Report to enable the consignee to claim the loss from the insurer. The consignee of the complainant could not get the payment of the value of the goods either from Insurance Company or from the opposite parties. As a matter of fact, the goods were transported at the carriers risk and no insurance was taken by the complainant. The opposite parties did not forward to the complainant or the consignee any claim form and informed the complainant that the consignee could be asked to approach the 2nd opposite party at Ahmedabad for getting the claim. Thereafter, the complainant issued lawyer s notice to the opposite parties on 26.7.2003 requiring them to settle the claim. The 3rd opposite party gave reply denying the averments contained in the notice of the complainant. A perusal of the FIR will show that the cause of damage was fire which might have resulted from the spilling of the chemicals in the lorry on account of frequent jolts and vibrations of the lorry leading to ignition of inflammable materials. The opposite parties ought to have taken care and ensured that the Agarbathies were not mixed with other combustible materials like chemicals. There is clear negligence on the part of the opposite parties and consequently, deficiency in service on their part. The opposite parties are liable to pay compensation for the loss and injury suffered by the complainant. Therefore, the opposite parties may be directed to pay Rs.16,910 with interest at 24% p.a. and compensation of Rs. 10,000.
The case of the opposite parties is as follows : The complaint is not maintainable. The 3rd opposite party had promptly informed the complainant about the fire accident. The 3rd opposite party also issued a non -delivery certificate. The opposite party denied the allegation that the goods were mixed with other combustible materials of chemicals and that there is negligence and deficiency in service on the part of the opposite parties. The consignment was pre -packed by use of ordinary paper covers in flimsy wood cartons. Such consignment mention consignee to be Aurobindo Ashram, Ahmedabad. The vehicle was driven with due care and caution. It is then an accidental spark and fire were caused due to severe jolt to the said vehicle due to a pit and dent on road. Such fire was noticed by driver and cleaner of lorry. They stopped the vehicle immediately to avoid any damage to goods. They also informed nearby police and Fire Service. As many as 14 items were saved without any damage or loss. They also salvaged several other consignments in partly damaged condition. Only the goods of the complainant which were not packed or insulated properly were immediately damaged by the said fire. The facts were imediately reported to the consignor and consignee with further assurances on all needful to claim insurance for the goods. The opposite party had also caused survey for damage and they sent the survey report for the said damage. The carriers had duly complied with all the duties under law. The consignment was transported by opposite party with due care and caution. Yet, a sudden pit and dent on road caused a jolt to spark a fire in the rear of the vehicle. The cause of such fire is an act of nature and God. The alleged damages are claimable only from Insurance Company. The opposite parties are not at all responsible for the alleged loss. The manner of packing of consignment is the immediate and proximate cause of alleged damage by an admitted fire. There is no justification at all, to claim Rs. 10,000 as compensation for the alleged mental agony and jnjury. The case requires elaborate evidence and fcts by examination of witnesses and interpretations of papers by detailed arguments. The complaint prima facie is abuse of process of law. The goods are to be delivered at Ahmedabad. The certificate was issued by opposite party with specific condition that the Court at Secundrabad city alone shall have jurisdiction in respect of claims and disputes. The complainant does not aver any specific act of delay or damage by any negligence of service at Pondicherry. There is no cause to invoke the jurisdiction of the Forum at Pondicherry. The consignment is admittedly commercial. Both the complainant and the opposite parties are companies and corporate persons and they are not falling within the purview of natural persons. Thus, the complainant is not a consumer as per law. The statutory notice under Section 10 of the Carriers Act was not issued either by consignor or by consignee. Therefore, the complaint is barred and prohibited under law.



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