By Adv. Jatin Ramaiya
Ramacustam P Shirodkar, Tiswadi, approached the Goa State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission seeking quashing of the order passed by the Consumer Disputes Forum, North Goa, vide which the Forum dismissed his complaint against the Chief Postmaster General (PLI), Maharashtra Circle, Mumbai, the senior superintendent of post offices, Goa division, Mapusa, Goa, Mail Overseer, working in the office of the assistant superintendent of Post Offices, Panaji-Sub-Division.
A complaint was filed by Shirodkar seeking appropriate direction against the postal department to pay him a sum of Rs 5687 along with interest at the rate of 9 per cent p.a. from 1996 till the date of full payment and realization and other relief. Shirodkar in his complaint alleged that he had taken PLI Policy from the postal department and his contribution was of Rs 20 per month, which was deducted from his monthly salary.
He claimed that he contributed towards the PLI policy from November 4 1982 to October 30 1993 till his compulsory retirement. However, since he was not in possession of the said PLI policy issued he was not paid the surrender value of the said policy. Similarly, he claimed that he received another letter in1999 from the office of Chief Postmaster General (PLI), informing that his PLI policy will become payable on or after September 5 2000, when he completes 58 years of his age and he should apply in the prescribed application form and forward the same along with policy documents and PR book and loan repayment book.
However, he did not receive any payment accrued on the said PLI policy and also did not receive any reply from the Goa Division. Shirodkar further pleaded that upon advise of staff member of the postal department he t lodged the said police
complaint and also got the indemnity bond computerized on the non-judicial stamp paper of Rs 200 for which he paid Rs 50 and further amount of Rs 50 as notary as his fees and submitted the papers to appropriate office of the postal department who accepted the same and intimated in writing that he intended to get the payment of the said PLI policy at the office of the Postmaster General at Panaji but he did not get his money.
Accordingly, he was constrained to approach the Consumer Forum for deficiency in service. The Postal Department disputed their liability and raised objections on issue of limitation, the department claimed that complaint was malafide and has been filed with the intention of making illegal gain taking advantage of the fact that the computer records of the OPs were not updated in respect of the payment made to the complainant.
Since the payment made under PLI policy of the complainant was not updated, the computer automatically generated the letter dated May 12 1996 which was sent to him in normal course. Upon receipt of the maturity claim form him along with the indemnity bond towards the said policy it was realized that that the policy held by Shirodkar was surrendered and payment of the PLI was made to him. The Forum held that the complaint is barred by limitation and hence was dismissed.
Whilst passing dismissing the appeal filed by its judgment the Commission observed that “the cause of action to file the complaint had arisen to him in the year 1996. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides that the complaint shall not be admitted unless it is filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen. The complainant filed the complaint on August 2 2013, i.e. about 17 years after the accrual of cause of action. Therefore, the complaint is barred by law of limitation.” The Commission further observed that, Rs 4624 was paid to Shirodkar. “Merely, because the payment voucher could not be produced by the opposing party it cannot be said that the complainant has not yet been paid the said surrendered value.”