NEW DELHI: The National Consumer Commission on Friday criticised the India Post for being “casual” in its approach and slapped a cost of Rs 52,100 on it for failing to deliver a mail, which led to a politician being barred from contesting elections for a period of three years.
Arjun Bhagat, an independent candidate from Jharkhand’s Lohardaga constituency, had applied for contesting the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and had sent details of his poll expenditure to the District Election Officer, but his letter was never delivered. As a result, the Election Commission of India debarred him from contesting election from any constituency for a period of three years.
Bhagat then filed a complaint in the consumer court, which accepted his contentions and awarded him damages of Rs 52,100, along with an interest of six per cent. The Centre challenged this order before the state consumer commission, which dismissed their appeal.
“The fact is that citizens hold in high esteem the post offices run by the central government. Hence, the citizens of the country send letters and parcels preferably through post offices with the belief that there will not be any obstacle in the articles reaching their destination. But, this fact has been utterly belied by the postal department as the hapless consumer has been debarred from contesting elections by the Election Commission in the absence of required information, for none of his default,” the state commission noted.
The Centre again appealed before the National Consumer Commission, which again dismissed the appeal and said, “The attitude of the department creates a reasonable degree of probability that there was wilful default on part of the employees of the postal department, and therefore, the onus shifts on the petitioner to prove its denial, particularly when the addressee does not have any access to the functioning of the post office. This leads to the conclusion that there was a wilful default on the part of the petitioner,” the commission said.