The Chandigarh Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed an immigration agency based in Sector 34,Chandigarh,to refund Rs 10.8 lakh to a Samrala youth. The Commission saw through the false claims made by the company that it was never associated with the youth who wanted to study in Australia,and had filed a complaint only to extract money.
The President of the Commission and Members have directed the agency to refund the money to the complainant with interest at the rate of nine per cent per annum since the date he filed the complaint,along with litigation costs of Rs 7,000.
The complainant,Onkar Verma of Samrala,had initially filed a complaint against the immigration agency in the Chandigarh Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. The Forum allowed the complaint and directed the immigration agency to refund the money paid by Onkar. The company in turn appealed against the Forums order in the Commission. After considering the case,the Commission upheld the order given by the Forum and dismissed the agencys appeal.
Onkar had complained to the Forum that he passed the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in July 2007. He was allured by the advertisement issued by the agency about its specialisation in providing immigration to various countries. Onkar approached the agency with a desire to go to Australia on student visa. He was told that he fulfilled the requisite conditions for studying in Australia.
In October 2007,Onkar submitted the requisite documents with the agency and gave it a demand draft of Rs 16,100 in the name of Australian High Commission,towards initial assessment fee. Another demand draft was given for 1,500 Australian dollars,in the name of Holmesglen Institute of Tafe,for submission to the Australian High Commission. The complainant paid Rs 18,521 to VFS Global Services Private Limited in May 2008 towards visa fee and service charges. In July 2008,he paid Rs 1.08 lakh in cash to the agency as processing charges. A receipt was issued to him by one Robin,an authorized signatory of the agency. Another sum of Rs 10,000 was given in cash as filing charges,but no receipt was issued for it.
Onkar said he spent Rs 7,000 for obtaining medical certificates from the doctors of the Australian High Commission to get the student visa. In July 2009,he was shocked to receive a letter from the Australian government that he did not satisfy the relevant criteria for grant of student visa,and his application had been rejected. The ground for rejection was that the complainant had not provided sufficient evidence regarding availability of funds to meet the course fee,living costs,and education cost in Australia.
Onkar complained to the Forum that the rejection of his visa was solely attributable to the negligence of the agency. Onkar asked the agency for refund of his deposit,but it was not done. Aggrieved,he filed a case in the Forum.
In its reply,the agency held that the complainant had filed the complaint only to extract money from it. It also stated that the complainant had never approached it for immigration to Australia on student visa. The agency further maintained that Onkar had paid Rs 1.08 lakh to one Robin,who had no connection with the agency.
After studying the arguments,the Forum had dismissed the claims made by the company and directed to it refund the money paid by Onkar.
After the agency appealed against the Forums order,the Commission studied the case afresh. The Commissions order stated that in July 2009,the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship sent a document to the agency on its given address regarding the complainant Onkar Verma.
The Commission held that from this document,it was clear that Onkar had authorised the agency to secure immigration for him,but did not get a fair deal from it.
The Commission further observed that the agency did not state that Robin was not their employee. The Commission held that in case Robin was not an employee or authorized signatory of the agency to collect money from the candidates seeking immigration to various countries,the agency could produce the evidence in this regard.
The Commission held that the agency was liable for the conduct of its employees or the persons authorised by it to collect money from the students seeking immigration to foreign countries. On this ground,the Commission directed the agency to refund the money paid by Onkar with interest,and also litigation costs.