Decided on July 23,2008

BSNL Appellant
G H Nabi Kanth Respondents


- (1.) THIS case represents a sad spectacle where the appellant has refused to accept the payment of the bill in question from the genuine consumer who after his retirement from Government service had retained telephone No. 2434896 at his residence. For the payment of services rendered to him for the use of above stated telephone, he received the bill to make the payment of a sum of Rs. 2,117 for the use of the above stated telephone during the months of February -March, 2006. The payment had to be made before 29.4.2006. The case of the respondent herein is that in the year 1999 he retired as a Special Secretary to Government in the I.A.S. Grade and under rules the above said official telephone number was allowed by the appellant to be retained by him. All along he remained a respectable consumer as never faulted in making the payment of its dues in time as it was never disconnected for any fault. One day earlier to the expiry date of the payment i.e., on 28.4.2006, he made the payment of the above stated telephone bill through cheque No. 11315581 dated 28.4.2006 in the Hyderpora Branch of Post Office. The payment had been made as per one of the conditions relating to making the payment on the back side of the said bill and in consonance of that condition, the Hyderpora Branch of Post Office was a recognized branch. To the surprise of the respondent on 27.5.2006, his said telephone all of a sudden was disconnected. He wanted to know the reason for disconnection of service and many times dialed helpline Nos. 2480292, 94, 95 but there was no response to any of the calls. At last, the respondent was compelled to approach the learned Divisional Forum Srinagar (hereinafter to be referred to as the Forum) by filing the complaint. In the written version, the defence taken by the appellant was that the said Hyderpora Branch of Post Office (hereinafter to be referred to as the Branch) was not authorized to receive the cheque in question. That it was received in the Revenue Section of the appellant on 3.5.2006 after being routed through CPO. The alleged deficiency in providing the service was denied. The Forum has accepted the complaint and in terms of the impugned order, had directed the appellant to restore the telephone connection to the complainant forthwith and pay him compensation in the sum of Rs. 10,000 for causing mental and physical injuries. The penalty of Rs. 1,000 which was also claimed in the complaint was denied but litigation charges in the sum of Rs. 2,000 were also awarded. The above stated reliefs were awarded after holding that appellant had carried unfair trade practice as the service was denied in an unlawful manner. The respondent had to make the payment of the bill within week's time, the acceptance whereof had to be made without charging any surcharge.
(2.) THE appellant has challenged the order by stating in the memo of appeal that disconnection of the telephone was done in a lawful manner. That the facility of depositing the telephone bills through cheques had been withdrawn during the hey time of the militancy which had engulfed the Kashmir Valley. The Post Office Branch Hyderpora had no authorization to receive the amount of the bill.
(3.) HEARD the arguments. Mr. M.A. Baba, the learned Counsel of the appellant at the outset wanted adjournment of the case firstly by pleading that he had no brief of the case with him. When this request was not accepted, the second attempt was made by filing application that Chief General Manager, Post Office was a necessary party in the case who by mistake has not been impleaded as a party in the memo of appeal. The application was found of frivolous nature and dismissed in limine. At last, he advanced his arguments and in rebuttal, the respondent personally argued his case.;

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