By Kartik Kumar
For misplacing a package, the district consumer disputes redressal forum of Chandigarh has ordered India Post to pay Rs 15,000 as compensation to a consumer. Madhumita Barua, a resident of Sector 52, Chandigarh alleged that in July 2014, she had given a packet, containing ladies suit which was to be delivered via speed post through the General Post Office in Sector 17 to her sister who lived in Sivasagar, Assam, and paid the requisite charges of Rs 180.
When the packet did not reach the consignee, she made an online complaint at the India Post website. Ultimately, on declaring the item to be lost, India Post asked her to submit an application for grant of compensation, along with the required documents. However, she received a compensation of only Rs 360, which was double the booking amount for the loss. She then filed a complaint with the consumer court.
While admitting to the factual matrix of the case, India Post said that the Central Government or its postal officers are exempted from any liability for loss, delay or damage to any postal article in course of transmission by post as per Section 6 of the Indian Post Office Act, 1898.
Section 6 states, “The Government shall not incur any liability by reason of the loss, mis-delivery or delay of, or damage to, any postal article in course of transmission by post, except in so far as such liability may in express terms be undertaken by the Centre as hereinafter provided; and no officer of the Post Office shall incur any liability by reason of any such loss, mis-delivery, delay or damage, unless he has caused the same fraudulently or by his willful act or default.”
During the hearing, forum presided by P L Ahuja said, “India Post should have at least conducted a departmental inquiry and fixed the responsibility of the delinquent. Rather, they simply took shelter under Section 6 of the Indian Post Office Act, 1898. This act clearly points towards deficiency in service on the part of India Post.” Thus, India Post was ordered to pay Rs 10,000 as compensation and Rs 5,000 towards litigation costs within a period of 30 days at 9 per cent interest.