UNION OF INDIA & ANR Vs. SHANTI SAROOP SAJGOTRA
JAMMU AND KASHMIR STATE CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
Union Of India And Anr
Shanti Saroop Sajgotra
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(1.) THROUGH the medium of this appeal order dated 16.7.2004 passed by the learned Divisional Consumer Protection Forum, Jammu, (hereinafter to be referred to as the Forum) has been challenged. The Forum in terms of the said order has directed the appellants to pay Rs. 7,000 as compensation to the respondent along with Rs. 3,000 as the cost of litigation. The whole amount was made payable within a period of six weeks failing which interest at the rate of 9 % per annum had to be paid. A direction was also given to the appellants to provide better services so that such like faults are not committed in future. The facts of the case in brief are that respondent in the year 2000 got telephone installation No. 576649 from the category of Senior Citizens and it was installed at his residence on 10.4.2001. It is alleged that the telephone was only a show piece device as it used to provide the service hardly for 15 to 20 days during a month. That the respondent had registered more than 200 complaints in the department for defaults in the service of the telephone. The respondent is living in a joint family along with his three sons and has other family members and they too had been deprived of using the telephone facility. In Para Nos. 4 and 5 of the complaint, the respondent has mentioned some complaint numbers against which his some of the complaints were registered with the appellants. The complaint was resisted by the appellants by raising a bar of Section 7 -b of the Telegraph Act which envisages that such disputes should be referred to arbitration. On fact, it was pleaded that whenever any complaint was being received that was being attended without any loss of time. In support of this contention, the appellants placed on record a copy of the "fault card". Lastly, it is pleaded that every fault was due to the break in the "open wire system" which was in vogue in that area.
(2.) THE Counsel for the appellants has contended that break in the open wire does not amount to fault, imperfection, short coming or inadequacy in the quality of service and that the learned Forum has decided the complaint without making a perusal of the fault card, as well as has awarded excessive amount of damages. The arguments have been countered by the Counsel of the respondent by pleading that the learned Forum had perused the "fault card" which is not a whole record of all the faults as it partially records the faults from 1.4.2002 to 30.11.2002. Not only that, the Forum had also perused the other evidence which is on the record. He has referred to the testimony of the complainant given on affidavit and has referred to Para 2 wherein a prayer had been made for summoning of the whole record from the office of the appellants pertaining to the telephone in question. This specific allegation was not rebutted by producing the requisite record. Further more the negligence on the part of the appellants is proved from the admission made by them that almost every fault was due to break in the open wire which shows that they had not provided to the consumer faultless wires but existence of such wires which are always prone to a breakdown itself is a tell tale circumstance to establish negligent nature of the service which was being rendered.
(3.) WE have considered the respective contentions of the Counsel for the parties and gone through the contents of the "service card" which cover a record of registered complaints of about eight months commencing from 1.4.2002 to 24.11.2002. For this period, 21 complaints are found to have been registered and the faults are shown to have been restored normally within a period of 2/3 days. We take the judicial notice of the fact that if in case of a break in the external wiring a fault had developed, why there used to be delay of 2 or 3 days and on the same day the complaint was not redressed. There is not even a singular instance of prompt service. The frequent faults of this nature speak for themselves. The casual approach being adopted by the appellants in providing the facilities of telephone service is reprehensible. They cannot take any benefit from their own negligent approach. A consumer who pays for a service cannot always be at the receiving end but he is entitled to a prompt service which should be devoid of any lethargic, negligent or bureaucratic attitude. The Counsel appearing for the respondent has contended that service card is not a true picture of all their complaints because majority of them have not been recorded therein. The learned Forum has also noticed in the impugned order the evasive approach which was adopted by the appellants in replying to the allegations made in Para Nos. 8 and 9 of the complaint in their written version. The respondent, who is a senior citizen aged more than 70 years, had been using the telephone in question along with his family members while living jointly and they too have suffered with him. All of them have undergone physical and mental sufferings and the amount awarded towards the compensation as well as for meeting the litigation charges cannot be said to be exorbitant. The law cited by the learned Counsel for the appellants laid down in the case of Birendra Nath Khara v. District Engineer (Internal) and Anr., 2001 1 CPJ 527 and Hardev Singh v. General Manager Telephone, 2001 1 CPJ 213 has no bearing with the facts of the present case in hand.
In this view of the matter we find no illegality in the impugned order which is upheld. The appeal is accordingly dismissed with a cost of Rs. 3,000. The record of the Forum be returned at once.
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