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If the Certificates are lost and the identity of the initial holder could never be established, the

THE SUPERINTENDENT OF POST OFFICE, BOLANGIR DIVISION, BOLANGIR, ODISHA V. JAMBU KUMAR JAIN AND CHHAGAN LAL JAIN,  CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 1894-1895 OF 2020 &1896-1897 OF 2020 Arising out of SLP (civil) Nos.16164-16165 of 2019 &.16166-16167 of 2019.

If the Department had refused to encash the Certificates upon presentation or even after encashment had refused to make the payment or had made short payment, there could still be a grievance about deficiency in service but if the Certificates themselves are lost and the identity of the initial holder could never be established through the record, the Department was well within its rights not to accept the prayer for return of the maturity sum.

The brief facts of the case are as follows; during 1996-1998, the Respondents father purchased the 88 Indira Vikas Patra (IVP) of the value of Rs.5000/- each. In June, 2001 the IVP’s were lost. On 25thJune 2001, police complaint was lodged alleging theft of IVP’s. On 14thh July, 2001 the respondent made a request to Superintendent of Post Offices, Bolangir, to stop the payment of any amount up to the maturity of IVP’s without proper verification of the holder. Later it submitted that despite the demands made by complainant, the value of IVP’s were not been made by Post Office, there was a deficiency in the part of Post Office services. The complainant claimed the following reliefs as follows:

  1. The O.P. be directed to pay the matured value of Rs. 8, 88, 000(88 IVP’s x 5000)

  2. Sum of Rs.1, 00, 000/- as claimed for deficiency in service and loss caused, and 10,000 towards the cost of litigation.

M.r. R. Balasubramanian, learned Senior Advocate submitted that the terms of IVP Rules, 1986, there was no formal application was necessary to purchase IVP and IVP’s which were purchased with cash  would not be recorded by post office in any document or any receipt. Hence there will be no proof or evidence about the consideration paid by complainant. Hence he is not called as a ‘consumer’ within the meaning of this act.

The aforesaid complaint was allowed by district forum on 30th March, 2016. It was directed by District forum that the O.P. should release the payment of 88 IVP’s i.e., 8, 88,000 only, to petitioner after issuing of indemnity bond from petitioner within 35 days of this order.

Later the appellant filed appeal in State Commission but it was dismissed by State Commission on the grounds of non-prosecution.  Later it was further carried by revision petition before National Commission.

The learned counsel for the petition contended that since the respondent is not a consumer and there is no deficiency of service is been committed by petitioner. The complaint of Respondent is not maintainable. As per the rule 7(2) of IVP Rules, the claim has been rejected by this department. However the view of District forum was accepted by National Commission, since the lost documents has not been submitted to them. But it was fair and reasonable that after the verification, it should at least pay the maturity value to respondent.

Rule 7 (2) stated that “A certificate lost, stolen, mutilated or destroyed beyond recognition, will not be replaced by any Post office.”

In Central Government of India and others v. Krishnaji Parvetesh, It was held that if any IVP is lost or destroyed according to Rule 7 (2) then the amount cannot be claimed from Post Office Department. In the view of Supreme Court of India, both District forum and National forum was completely under a mistake in accepting the claim. It allows the appeals to set aside the view taken by both the forums and dismissed the complaint. No costs were awarded. In the Review Application No. 356 of 2018 it was stated that in this case, 160 IVP’s were lost which are of the value, 5000 each. As same even in this case the District forum and National forum orders appeals before it. It  may, for the reasons recorded in Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (Civil) Nos.16164-16165 Civil Appeal Nos. 1894-1895 of 2020 Arising out of SLP(C) Nos.16164-16165 of 2019, these appeals also deserve to be allowed. Moreover, The matter has to be considered purely from the perspective of the governing Rules. If in case the IVPs are lost/stolen or mutilated or defaced beyond recognition, the Rules are clear that they shall not be replaced by the Post Office. In the face of such statutory provision, the refusal on the part of the Department to entertain any request for maturity sum was absolutely right and justified. It can never be said that there was deficiency on the part of the Department in rendering any service expected of them. Therefore the Supreme Court has allowed these appeals and it set-aside the view taken by the National Commission and dismisses the original complaint. No costs were awarded.

“It is some what strange that only the IVPs were lost in both the cases by the family and no other instrument was lost. Be that as it may, for the reasons recorded in Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (Civil) Nos.16164-16165 of 2019, these appeals also deserve to be allowed. We, therefore, allow these appeals, set-aside the view taken by the National Commission and dismiss the original complaint. No costs.”

– Vishal Varma

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