For the Petitioners : Mr.BaldevMalik and Mr.ArjunMalik Advocates inall the Revision Petitions
For the Respondent : In person inall the Revision Petitions
O R D E R
(Pronounced on 3rd day of July, 2014)
D.K. JAIN, J. PRESIDENT Delay condoned.
In these four Revision Petitions under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (for short “the Act”), preferred by the Superintendent of Post Offices, Jhunjhunu Division and two other local Post Offices, orders, all dated 02.12.2013, passed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Bench No. 1, Rajasthan, Jaipur (for short “the State Commission”) are under challenge. By the impugned orders, the State Commission has affirmed the orders, all dated 09.09.2013, made by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Jhunjhunu (for short, “the District Forum”), whereby the District Forum had allowed the complaints filed by the present Respondents and directed the concerned Post Office to pay to the Complainant in each of the complaints, a sum of `10,000/- as compensation along with a sum of `2,000/- as costs of the proceedings. In the event of default in payment of the said amounts within the time granted, interest @ 9% p.a. would be payable.
2. The short question for consideration in all the Revision Petitions is whether there was any deficiency in service on the part of the concerned Post Office in refusing to recognize the power of attorney executed by the son of the Complainant authorizing him to get Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) of different denominations purchased by him, transferred in the name of his wife and also have them encashed on maturity.
3. Succinctly put, the case of the Complainant, as highlighted in Memo of Appeal in R.P. No.1461 of 2014, treated as the lead case, is that on 30.04.2012, armed with Power of Attorney executed by his son in his favour, the Respondent/Complainant approached the Sub-Post Master, Jhunjhunu City Post Office for transfer of Kisan Vikas Patras purchased in the name of his son for transfer in the name of son’s wife. However, his request was turned down on the ground that transfer cannot be carried out on the basis of a certified copy of the Power of Attorney. Aggrieved, the Complainant made a representation to the Superintendent of Posts, which was rejected vide letter dated 29/30.08.2012. Operative part of said letter reads as under:-
Sub: Complaint against the letter No.234/12-13 dated
16.08.12 of Post Jhunjhunu
Ref.: No. Nil dated 16.08.2012
It is submitted in regard to above that Kisan Vikas Patra issued by the Department of Posts are to be transferred from one Post Office to other Post Office and in the name of one person to other person under Rules 37 and 38 of Post Office Saving Bank Manual-II. No provision is made under the above Rules because it is necessary to have the signatures of the Holder in the case of transfer from one person to other and from one post office to other post office and the person in whose name transfer is to be made, his signatures are also necessary. If it is not done, then main purpose comes to an end.
Power of Attorney has been mentioned in Rule 23 (4) for payment of these Certificates. We regret the inconvenience caused to you in this regard. “
4. On 21.09.2012, the Complainant again attempted to deposit the transfer fee and also produced original KVPs along with Power of Attorney for transfer but without any success.
5. Alleging deficiency in service on the part of the Petitioners, the Complainant filed four complaints inter-aliapraying for directions to the Superintendent of Posts/Post Master/Deputy Post Master to peruse the original Power Of Attorney and accept a true copy thereof and transfer the KVPs; pay a compensation of`30,000/- for the financial loss along with a further sum of `10,000/- on account of mental agony.
6. The complaint was resisted by the Petitioners on the sole ground that as per Postal Saving Bank Manual Vol.II, governing the KVP, there is no provision for transfer of KVPs from one city to another or from one depositor/holder to another or encashment on the basis of a Power of Attorney, except in the case of lepers or invalids or an illiterate holder, who after the purchase is incapacitated. It was also pleaded that since the depositor/holder did not appear in person, no deficiency in service could be attributed to the Petitioners for delay in payment on maturity of the certificates.
7. The District Forum was not impressed with the stand of the Petitioners. The District Forum held that the Petitioners did not have any power to reject a validly executed Power of Attorney by the son, as Principal, in favour of his father to have the KVPs transferred from Mandava to Jhunjhunu in the name of his wife and also have them encashed on maturity. Consequently, the District Forum allowed the complaint with the aforesaid directions. Being unsuccessful before the State Commission, the Petitioners have filed these Revision Petitions.
8. Having heard Mr. Baldev Malik, Ld. Counsel for the Petitioners, we are of the opinion that these Petitions are devoid of any merit.
9. Post Office Savings Bank Manual Volume II, issued under the Authority of Director General of Posts, India and Secretary to Government of India, Department of Posts, lays down the Savings Certificate Procedure. Sub rule (4) of Rule 23 provides for payment on encashment of certificates to persons holding power of attorney. It reads as under :-
(4) Payment to persons holding power of attorney:-
The Postmaster will satisfy himself that the power of attorney is in order. The person receiving payment must grant the usual receipt for payment on the reverse of the certificate adding below his signature the words “duly constituted attorney for A.B. (Name of holder or certificate)”. The Postmaster will make a note of the particulars of the power of attorney below the payee’s receipt for payment and the fact that the power of attorney was examined by him and found to be in order.
The above procedure will be followed for the encashment of certificates, belonging to lepers or invalids or an illiterate holder who has since become incapacitated. In these cases, the power of attorney should be attested by a Magistrate.
10. A bare reading of the provision, which has been pressed into Service to contend that the said Manual does not permit transfer of certificates from one holder to another or payment to a Power of Attorney holder, except under the circumstances, enumerated in the latter part of the provision, shows that it is beingmis-construed by the Petitioners. It is plain that the first part of the said provision does recognize a Power of Attorney holder, subject of course to the satisfaction of the Post Master to the effect that it is in order. The latter part only stipulates that in the case of encashment of certificates belonging to a particular class of holders, enumerated therein, the Power of Attorney should be attested by a Magistrate and not by any of the authorities like Oath Commissioner or Notary Public. Any other interpretation of the said clause would be repugnant to the very concept and object of execution of power of attorney under the Powers of Attorney Act, 1882, which is a document of convenience. In the present case the son of the Complainant had executed Power Of Attorney in favour of his father, who was residing at Jhunjhunu to get them transferred from Mandava to Jhunjhunu as he was studying at Bangalore. Admittedly, on 29.06.2012, the Superintendent of Post Offices, on recommendation of the Sub-Post Master, sent the documents to Bangalore Post Office for verification. On 27.08.2012, the signatures were verified and the Superintendent wrote to the Post Master for completion of the process of transfer. In our view, after the verification, there was no legal impediment in accepting the Power of Attorney executed by the son in favour of the Complainant and as his agent, the Complainant was competent to deal with Kisan Vikas Patras in question. On receipt of communication from the Superintendent of Post Offices at Bangalore, the Local Post Office at Jhunjhunu was not justified in refusing to transfer some of the KVPs and then refusing to make payment against the matured KVPs to the Complainant, causing unnecessary harassment to him and monetary loss to the holder of KVPs on account of delay in encashment. Definitely, there was deficiency in service on the part of the Petitioners, as has been found by both the Forums below.
11. For the view we have taken above, the plea that transfer of certificate from one Post Office to another and from one holder to another in terms of Rules 37 and 38 of the said Manual only when the prescribed application is presented by the holder in person, is stated to be rejected. All what is required to be done under the said provisions is the verification of the genuineness of the certificates and credentials of the holders etc. Once the Post Master is satisfied that the Power of Attorney is in order, the authority of the agent to act on behalf of the Executant cannot be questioned.
12. For the aforegoing reasons, we do not find any illegality or material irregularity in the impugned orders warranting interference in the revisional jurisdiction. All the Revision Petitions are dismissed accordingly with costs, quantified at `10,000/- in each of the Petitions which shall be paid to the Complainant within four weeks of the receipt of a copy of this order.
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(D.K. JAIN, J.) PRESIDENT
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(VINAY KUMAR) MEMBER
NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION NEW DELHI