UNION OF INDIA Vs. K K KOTWAL
JAMMU AND KASHMIR STATE CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
UNION OF INDIA
K K Kotwal
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(1.) THROUGH the medium of this appeal order dated 17.5.94 passed by the learned Divisional Forum, Jammu (hereinafter to be referred to as the Forum) has been challenged. The facts of the case in brief are that on 9.9.1993, respondent while being posted as Superintending Engineer, Electric Construction, Circle - II, Glandi Nagar, Jammu filed complaint in the Forum and challenged telephone bills dated 8/92, 12/92 and 8/93 which were in the sum of Rs. 5,196, Rs. 7,991 and Rs. 15,537 respectively. The ground of challenge was that the above said bills were highly inflated in respect of the amounts stated therein because on the average rate in the past he had been receiving monthly bill not exceeding Rs. 3,627. The said bills were issued against the telephone installation No. 44788 which was installed at the residence of the respondent at 38 -A, Karan Nagar, Jammu. The installation was official. In para No. 2 of the complaint he had given a detail of eight bills received from the appellants for the period commencing from 11.4.92 to 11.6.93. From the list he had stated that bill dated 11.8.92 was for an amount of Rs. 5,186 and the bill dated 11.12.1992 was for an amount of Rs. 7,991 which were excessive in the amounts shown therein. It is alleged that for the said two bills which were in excessive amounts, he made representations (Annexure 8 and 9) to the OPs respectively but no action was taken thereon. Surprisingly, subsequent bill dated 11.8.1993 for an amount of Rs. 15,537 was again received by him which was like a bolt from the blue. He had made the payments of bills dated 11.8.1992 and 11.12.1992 under protest under the lurking fear of getting the telephone disconnected and in order to avert any future mischief on 9.9.1993, he filed the complaint before the Forum alleging therein that Government owned telephones are generally misused by the concerned staff of the appellants for getting through outstation calls done for other subscribers in lieu of illegal considerations. In para No. 9 he had made a specific allegation that he had detected his telephone being misused on many times. For such mala fide and deficient service being provided to him he prayed that the excessive amount mentioned in the above said three bills may be reduced after taking into consideration the amount of subsequent bill dated 11.4.1993 which was only in the sum of Rs. 2,959. He had claimed a compensation of Rs. 5,000.
(2.) IN the written version, the appellants had pleaded that the present dispute required adjudication under Section 7(b) of the Indian Telegraph Act by a statutory Arbitrator and that the bills issued were true and correct. On facts it was pleaded that representation made for the bill of the month of 12/92 was rejected as it was not justified and the respondent was informed accordingly. It was also stated that bill dated 11.8.1993 for Rs. 15,537 was correct and genuine prepared on the basis of actual calls made. The telephone had been used lavishly being a Govt. telephone. That 10 days calls are deducted for occasional communication of wrong numbers from each bill which was also done in the present case. The Forum after hearing the parties came to the conclusion that the last two disputed bills i.e. bill dated 11.12.1992 for an amount of Rs. 7,991 and bill dated 11.8.1993 for an amount of Rs. 15,537 should not have been in any case exceeding Rs. 6,000 excluding trunk -calls if any. A direction was given to reduce the amount of the bills upto an amount of Rs. 6,000 each and issue revised bills accordingly within 15 days from the date of the order. The first disputed bill dated 11.8.1992 for an amount of Rs. 5,186 was upheld as genuine. A further direction was given to adjust the excessive payment of Rs. 1,991 made towards the satisfaction of the disputed bill dated 11.12.1992 for an amount of Rs. 7,991 in the future bill regarding which the payment had yet to be made. Aggrieved by this order the appellants have challenged the order on the following grounds:
(i) The complaint could not be entertained because of the legal bar imposed under Section 7(b) of the Indian Telegraph Act.
(ii) The Forum has misappreciated the evidence and wrongly issued the directions.
(3.) HEARD the arguments.
Mr. Ravinder Gupta, Advocate has not argued on the point of alleged legal bar imposed by Section 7(b) of the Indian Telegraph Act as he has conceded the point no -more remains res intgra but stands decided in a number of cases by this Commission by following the law laid down by the Apex Court. Now, it is settled that the Commission as well as other Fora created under the Act have also jurisdiction to adjudicate on the disputes with regard to alleged excessive bills. His main thrust is on the argument that the Forum had no jurisdiction to reduce the amount of the disputed bills by applying the formula of average payment being made in respect of the other bills for other periods because such a exercise has been held to be illegal.;
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