ORDER 1(a). This Complaint is filed on 12.01.2009 under section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 by a Consignor against the Carrier alleging deficiency of service and seeking certain reliefs which according to the Consignor are appropriate in the circumstances of the case.
(b) The case of the Complainant in brief is as hereunder: The Complainant has been working as Superintending Engineer in Cauvery and Southern Rivers Circle, Jalasoudha, HMT Post, Bangalore-560 031. Previously, he was working in New Delhi. He was transferred from there to Bangalore in October 2008. For the transportation of his belongings, the Complainant hired the services of the Opposite Party-Carrier. Accordingly, the Household Articles of the Complainant were booked, packed and loaded on 27.10.2008 as per the Bill NO.1282 and Consignment Note No.DLI 2192 and as per the Packing List GC No.2192 dt.27.10.2008. The entire transportation cost was to the tune of Rs.42,643/-. The Complainant had paid a sum of Rs.7,500/- exclusively for packing.
(c) As per the promise of the 1st Opposite Party, that Consignment ought to have delivered to the Complainant in Bangalore on 2.11.2008. However, it was made known to the Complainant that the Consignment would be delivered on 9.11.2008. On 9.11.2008, the goods so consigned were delivered in part. The costly items such as 3 Seater Sofa Set, Washing Machine, Dressing Table etc., were not delivered on 9.11.2008. Even the delivered articles were found damaged. The Complainant was given to understand that the undelivered goods would reach Bangalore only on 13.11.2008. Ultimately, those goods were delivered on 18.11.2008 in a very damaged condition. The legs of the Sofa-Set were found broken. The Metal Box Container was found heavily damaged. The Glass items were found broken. The IFB Washing Machine and Ultra Wet Grinder were completely damaged. The bottom plate of the central table was displaced. Oven Toaster handle and knob were broken. Diwan and Steel Almira were found damaged. The delivery Personnel at the delivery point had acknowledged the damage to those items in writing on the over leaf of the Packing List on 18.11.2008. It was assured by them that the necessary repairs would be done to the damaged articles and the heavily damaged items like IFB Washing Machine and Ultra Wet Grinder would be replaced. Inspite of that promise, the Opposite Parties did not do anything. In the circumstances, the Complainant had to cause a registered letter to the 1st Opposite Party. To the dismay of the Complainant, that letter came to be returned with postal endorsement “refused”.
(d) The above commissions and omissions of the Opposite Parties, would amount to deficiency of service on their part as Carrier and that on account of the same, the Complainant had to suffer physically, mentally and financially for no fault on his part. Hence, this Complaint is necessitated to direct the Opposite Parties to compensate the Complainant in a sum of Rs.66,000/- in respect of the damage caused to the goods consigned and further direct the Opposite Parties to pay a sum of Rs.30,000/- by way of repair charges in respect of the other goods and also to compensate the Complainant reasonably for the agony, sufferance and loss he had to undergo on account of the late and poor delivery of the goods consigned.
(e) Along with the Complaint, the Complainant has made available a list of documents marking them at Annexures A to F.
2. On admission of the Complaint, the Opposite Parties were called upon to produce their Version of the case. Notices to the Opposite Parties in that regard were sent through RPAD. The notice so sent to the 1st Opposite Party came to be returned with a postal endorsement “refused”. The 2nd Opposite Party was duly served with the notice. No Version as such is made available either by the 1st Opposite Party or by their counter part in Bangalore who is the 2nd Opposite Party. Ultimately, this Forum held that the Opposite Parties have no Version in this case and in the circumstances, this case came to be proceeded against the Opposite Parties exparte.
3. Even though the Opposite Parties have chosen to remain absent and failed to produce their Version of the case, it was for the Complainant to establish the allegations made in the Complaint. Accordingly, the Complainant was called upon to produce evidence by way of affidavit and documents. The Complainant has made available his affidavit on 17.3.2009 along with a Memo with 3 documents. At the end, this Forum heard on merits.
4. In the circumstances, the following points do arise for our consideration and decision in this proceeding and they are:
(i) Whether the alleged deficiency of service by the Opposite Parties to the Complainant in respect of the transaction referred to in the Complaint is well-founded?
(ii) Whether the Complainant is entitled for any relief against the Opposite Parties in this case?
(iii) What Order?
5. Our Findings to these points are as hereunder: i) Yes ii) Yes iii) As shown in the operative portion of the Order here below. 6. We shall substantiate our findings on the following:
R E A S O N S
POINT NO.1 (a): The evidence on record has remained unchallenged. As a matter of fact, the Complaint has also remained unchallenged. For the reasons best known to themselves, the Opposite Parties have not chosen to produce their Version of the case in this proceeding.
(b) To probabilise that the Complainant had so booked, packed and sent his Household Goods through the Opposite Party-Packers and Movers on 27.10.2008, has been very much probabilised by the Complainant by producing the Consignor Copy of the Consignment Note and the Packing List and also through the Receipt dt.27.10.2008. That receipt which is marked by the Complainant at Annexure-A reveals that the Complainant as Consignor has paid in all Rs.42,649/- to the Opposite Party-Carrier. The Consignment Note referred to above reveals that the Carrier had agreed to transport the goods so consigned and delivered the same at the doors of the Consignor in Bangalore. The Consignor of the goods is none other than the Complainant herein as revealed in the said Consignment Copy. That Consignment Note reveals that a sum of Rs.5,000/- has been charged by the Opposite Party-Carrier by way of freight charges and that it was required to be paid at the time of delivery of the goods consigned. In the Packing List of which, a copy is in evidence here reveals the insured value of the goods so consigned. As revealed in the said Receipt dt.27.10.2008, the Opposite Party-Packers & Movers have collected a sum of Rs.1,800/- by way of insurance charges touching the goods consigned.
(c) It is the contention of the Complainant that the Opposite Party-Carrier ought to have delivered the goods so consigned by 2.11.2008 and that the Opposite Parties did not keep-up their promise and ultimately, the goods were delivered at their Office in Bangalore on 9.11.2008 that too in part and the remaining goods were delivered only on 18.11.2008. Further, the grievance of the Complainant is that the goods so transported have been damaged in the course of transportation on account of the negligence of the Opposite Party-Carrier and that in the circumstances, the Opposite Parties are answerable to him.
(d) As per the Packing List, it is revealed that as many as 66 items have been so consigned. According to the Complainant, on 9.11.2008 only some of the articles were delivered in a damaged state and that the main items like IFB Washing Machine and Ultra Wet Grinder came to be delivered only on 18.11.2008. It is the contention of the Complainant that on the obverse of the Consignor Copy of the Packing List, there are certain entries by the concerned person of the Opposite Party-Company in Bangalore and that the said person had noted the damage caused to the goods consigned and also noted that out of them, the IFB Washing Machine and Ultra Wet Grinder were taken to their custody with a promise that they would be replaced. Though the Complainant has contended that most of the items so consigned were damaged, he has concentrated more on the conduct of the Opposite Party-Carrier in not replacing the Sofa-Set worth about Rs.40,000/-, IFB Washing Machine worth about Rs.21,000/- and Ultra Wet Grinder valuing at Rs.5,000/- since the damage caused to those items were very much significant and the damage caused to the other items were smaller when compared to the damage caused to the above items.
(e) It is also the contention of the Complainant that no sooner he took delivery of the damaged goods, he had aired his grievance in writing to the 1st Opposite Party-Carrier in New Delhi and that instead of receiving the said letter, the 1st Opposite Party had chosen to refuse the same. In a situation like this, the Opposite Parties 1 and 2 had an obligation to respond to the grievance of the Complainant, but, they failed to do so. Further as revealed in the evidence, the Complainant was constrained to take delivery of the small items amongst the goods so consigned and the damage caused to the valuable items like 3 Seater Sofa-Set, IFB Washing Machine and Ultra Wet Grinder were very much considerable and serious in nature and that in the circumstances, he had to complain the same and that the Personnel of the Opposite Party-Carrier did not bother to keep-up their promise even after taking delivery of those items with a promise that the same would be replaced. If really the above contention of the Complainant regarding the damage to the consigned goods is ill-founded, nothing prevented the Opposite Parties especially the 1st Opposite Party with whom the goods were so consigned to respond to the notice of the Complainant or to respond to the notice of this Forum and place their defence on record. Wherefore, having regard to the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case, there is every reason to hold that the Opposite Parties as Carrier of the Consignment so consigned by the Consignor-Complainant, remained deficient in rendering services to the Consignor-Complainant. The gravity of the situation need be highlighted here. The Opposite Parties by their commissions and omissions, have not only damaged the consigned goods, but also failed to replace the valuable items among the goods so consigned having taken custody of the same for replacement. Wherefore, it is but reasonable to conclude that the Complainant has become successful in establishing the alleged deficiency of service by the Opposite Party-Carrier within the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Accordingly, this point is answered.
7. POINT NO.2: This Forum has visualized the plight of the Complainant. It is his contention that some of the goods especially the 3 Seater Sofa-Set was a special item and that the IFB Washing Machine and Ultra Wet Grinder too were costly items and therefore, he is constrained to seek the value of the same at Rs.40,000/-, 21,000/- and 5,000/- respectively. Ofcourse, he has not chosen to produce any documentary proof regarding the above value. Even then, we have no reason to doubt the bonafides of the Complainant. Further, instead of attending to the grievance of the Complainant, the Opposite Party-Carrier had taken undue advantage of the fact that the Complainant had taken delivery of the goods on both the occasions without a strong protest. Ofcourse, there was a protest note in the Consignor Copy which is in evidence here and that note dt.9.11.2008 itself. The damaged items have been more fully set-down on the obverse of the Packing List and the signature of the concerned Personnel of the Opposite Party–Carrier on 18.11.2008. Instead of attending the same without undue delay, the Opposite Parties on the other hand have driven the Complainant to this litigation. We have to appreciate the non-utility of the damaged Household Articles which are very much required for the day today activities of the concerned persons.
Wherefore we feel, there is justification on the part of the Complainant in seeking compensation in addition to the cost of those valuable items and the repair charges in respect of other goods which were so damaged. The Complainant has claimed a sum of Rs.30,000/- by way of repair charges regarding the other goods. However in the absence of clinching evidence, we are inclined to restrict the same to Rs.10,000/- As far as the compensation is concerned, we are of the opinion that if a sum of Rs.5,000/- is fixed, ends of justice would meet. Accordingly, this point is answered.
8. POINT NO.3: In the result, we proceed to pass the following:
O R D E R The Complainant has become successful in establishing the alleged deficiency of service by the Opposite Parties and accordingly, the Opposite Parties are directed to pay a sum of Rs.66,000/- (Rupees sixty-six thousand) to the Complainant towards the value of the 3 Seater Sofa-Set, IFB Washing Machine and Ultra Wet Grinder and further pay a sum of Rs.10,000/- (Rupees ten thousand) by way of repair charges to the Complainant in respect of the other items so consigned and damaged and also pay a sum of Rs.5,000/-(Rupees five thousand) by way of cost and compensation for the agony, sufferance and loss to which the Complainant was put to. The Opposite Parties are granted 30 days time from this date to comply this Order.