F.A. No. 28 of 2009 Decided on 8.1.2010.
1. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.,
Dharamshala Telecom District Dharamshala,
Distict Kangra through its General Manager.
2. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.,
Through its Accounts Officer (TR)
O/o General Manager Telecom District
3. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.,
Though its Assistant Engineer (Telecom)
Dehra District, Kangra (H.P).
1. Smt. Brij Kumari Wd/o late Sh. Parkash Chand Mehra
2. Sh. Amrat Mehra S/o Late Sh. Parkash Chand Mehra
Both R/o DAV Public School Road,
Dehra Gopipur, Tehsil Dehra, District Kangra, H.P
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Arun Kumar Goel (Retd.), President.
Hon’ble Mrs. Saroj Sharma, Member.
Hon’ble Mr. Chander Shekher Sharma, Member.
Whether approved for reporting ?
For the appellants. Mr. Ratish Sharma, Advocate
for the appellants.
For the respondents. Mr. Anil Kumar God, Advocate
vice counsel for the respondents.
Justice Arun Kumar Goel (Retd.) President.
1. This appeal is directed against the order dated 17.9.2008, passed by District Forum, Kangra, camp at Dehra. By means of impugned order Consumer Complaint No. 356/2006 has been allowed in the following terms :-
“ the complaint is partly allowed and we order the opposite parties jointly and severally to modify the telephone bill dated 7.3.2006 worth Rs. 2141/- for the period 1.1.2006 to 28.2.2006; telephone bill dated 7.5.2006 for the period 1.3.2006 to 30.4.2006 to the tune of Rs. 1940/- and telephone bill dated 7.7.2006 for the period 1.5.2006 to 30.6.2006 to the tune of Rs. 7688/-. The charges will be as per highest telephone bill issued during the six bio-monthly period (one year) immediately preceding the disputed period i.e. before 1.1.2006. The opposite parties are directed to issue modified telephone bill to the complainant within 30 days from the date of order. The excess amount under the disputed bill, if already deposited by the complainant, shall be adjusted in the future telephone bills. The opposite parties are also directed to pay compensation to the complainant to the tune of Rs. 1000/-. The complaint is allowed alongwith litigation costs of Rs. 1000/-.”
2. Perusal of the complaint file shows that grievance made by late Sh. Parkash Chand Mehra who had filed the complaint and who was predecessor in the interest of respondents, that he has been issued exorbitant telephone bill for the periods 1.1.2006 to 28.2.2006 in the sum of Rs. 2141/-. With a view to avoid dis-connection, he paid the amount. As during this period he alongwith his family was away from his house, so per him this was an execessive bill when calls were not made. He asked for detailed print out of the bill in question which was provided to him on 17.3.2006.
3. On its examination it transpired, that most of the calls had been made to Mobile Nos. 9418048895 and 9816488445. Deceased also lodged FIR at the Police Station, and appellants were informed in this behalf. Despite having made complaints regarding the excess billing when no relief was granted to him, he filed complaint out of which this appeal has arisen, alleging deficiency in service on the part of the appellants. Complaint was allowed in the aforesaid terms. Hence this appeal.
4. When hearing in this case commenced Sh. Ratish Sharma, learned counsel for the appellants drew our attention to the judgement of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in case General Manager, Telecom V/s M. Krishnan and Another, III (2009) CPJ 71 (SC), and urged that remedy if any, available to the deceased during his life time, and after his death now to the respondents, was/is u/s 7B of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and by necessary implications as per this decision, jurisdiction of Consumer Fora is barred. Though he hastened to add that there is no subsisting dispute, because no excess billing had been done by his clients. Further according to him bill was issued to the respondent for the calls actually made from the telephone of the deceased Sh. Prakash Chand Mehra. On the other hand learned counsel for the respondents prayed for upholding the order.
5. Looking to the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, which is law of the land under article 141 of the Constitution of India, jurisdiction of the Fora under Consumer Protection Act, 1986, has been specifically held to be barred. We are of the view that complaint before District Forum below was not maintainable, and at the same time remedy if any open to the deceased Sh. Prakash Chand Mehra, and now to the respondents is by way of approaching the authorities U/s 7B of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
6. Faced with this situation, Sh. God, learned counsel for the respondents submitted that remedy to his clients has become time barred and if the impugned order is not upheld, it will leave the respondents high and dry, without any remedy in law.
7. Suffice it to say in this behalf even that if the respondents approach the authorities under section 7B of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and at the same time pray for condonation of delay, in such a situation we have no doubt in our mind that an application will be favourably considered keeping in view the fact that respondents having predecessor, and after his death they were bonafide prosecuting the remedy on the basis of legal advice. Subject to these observations order passed by District Forum, Kangra, camp at Dehra, in Consumer Complaint No. 356/2006, dated 17.9.2008 is set aside, and as a result of it said complaint is dismissed, leaving the parties to bear their own costs.
8. All interim orders passed from time to time shall stand vacated forthwith.
9. Learned counsel for the parties have undertaken to collect copy of this order free of cost from the Court Secretary as per Rules.