The respondent Sh. Deepak Puri, who was also the Karta of an HUF, purchased some National Saving Certificate from the petitioner on 30.08.1991. The said certificates were to mature on 31.03.1997. When the respondent approached the Post Office, for payment of the maturity amount, the Post Office refused to make such payment, on the ground that he being the Karta of HUF could not have purchased National Saving Certificate in his single name. Though, he could have purchased the same jointly with another member of HUF.
(2) Being aggrieved from the refusal of the Post Office to pay maturity amount to him and alleging deficiency in service on his part, the respondent filed a complaint before the concerned District Forum. Vide order dated 15.04.2005, the District Forum directed the petitioner to pay interest on the amount of Rs. 10,000/- to the respondent as per rate of 3 years or above FDR of the nationalized bank, till 31.03.1997. Thereafter, the petitioner was to be paid interest at the rate of interest applicable to the saving bank accounts. It would be pertinent to note here that the Post Office had been willing to refund the principal sum of the respondent, but he did not accept the same since he wanted interest as well.
(3) Being aggrieved from the order of the District Forum, the petitioner/opposite party preferred an appeal before the State Commission. The appeal was dismissed vide impugned order dated 16.04.2013. Being still dissatisfied, the petitioner is before us by way of this revision petition.
(4) The learned counsel for the petitioner states that as per the rules of the Post Office, the National Saving Certificates could be purchased jointly by two adults including the Karta of HUF, but the said Karta had to add the name of one of the adult coparcenerin the certificate. The contention of the learned counsel is that since the respondent despite being Karta of HUF did not use the name of some other coparcener of the HUF in the National Saving Certificates, he is not entitled to any interest on the said deposit. Reliance is placed upon the decision of the Hon’ble Apex Court in A. D. Thirukoil, Palani vs. Director General of Post Offices, Department of Posts, AIR 2011 SC 2604.
(5) A perusal of the decision relied upon by the learned counsel for the petitioner would show that in the case before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the central government had issued a notification being nos. G & SR 118(E), 119(E), 120 (E), as per which no time deposit could be made or accepted on behalf of any institution with effect from 01.04.1995. The appellant before the Hon’ble Apex Court had deposited a huge sum of money with the Post Master during the period from 05.05.1995 to 16.08.1995, for a period of 5 years. The Hon’ble Apex Court noted that in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 15 of the Government Savings Banks Act, 1873, the Central Government had led rules known as Post Office Bank General Rules. Rule 16 & 17 of said rules read as under:-
“16. Account opened incorrectly- (1) Where an account is found to have been opened incorrectly under a category other than the one applied for by the depositor, it shall be deemed to be an account of the category applied for if he was eligible to open such account on the date of his application and if he was not so eligible, the account may, if he so desires, be converted into an account of another category ab initio, if he was eligible to open an account of such category on the date of his application.
(2) In cases where the account cannot be so converted, the relevant Head Savings Bank may, at any time, cause the account to be closed and the deposits made in the accounts refunded to the depositor with interest at the rate applicable from time to time to a savings account of the type for which the depositor is eligible.
17. Accounts opened in contravention of rules- Subject to the provisions of rule 16, where an account is found to have been opened in contravention of any relevant rule for the time being in force and applicable to the accounts kept in the Post Office Savings Bank, the relevant Head Savings Bank may, at any time, cause the account to be closed and the deposits made in the account refunded to the depositor without interest.”
Noticing that the deposit in the case before it was covered by rule 17 of the aforesaid rule, the Hon’ble Apex Court held that no interest was payable to the appellant despite the fact that its money has been utilized by the Post Office.
(6) A bare perusal of the Rule 16(1) would show that it would apply to a case where an account is opened under a category other than a category for which the depositor applies. In such a case, the account is to be opened in the category in which he had applied, provided that he is eligible to open the account in that category. If however he is not eligible to open the said account, the Post Office can convert the account into an account of another category in which the applicant is eligible to open an account on the date of the application.
Sub Rule (2) of Rule 16 deals with the cases where the account can not be converted with Sub-Rule (1). In such a circumstance, the account is to be closed and he should open some another account of the type for which the depositor is applicable.
(7) In the case before us, there is no rule which prohibits purchase of National Saving Certificate by a Karta of a HUF. The learned counsel for the petitioner has drawn our attention to the letter dated 28.04.1979, written by D.G. P&T, clarifying therein that a joint certificate can be issued to any two adults under the Rules and therefore, the Karta of HUF could also purchase a certificate in his own name by adding the name of his coparcener, who should be an adult. Thus, the case before us is not a case where the applicant was not at all eligible to open an account with the Post Office in the relevant category. Here the respondent/complainant could have opened such an account, but the only additional requirement was that he should have added the name of another coparcener of the HUF alongwith his name. Therefore, it would be a case of an irregularity which the Post Office ought to have pointed out to the complainant at the time of taking the deposit and before issuing the certificate to him. Had there been an altogether prohibition on the Karta of HUF purchasing the National Saving Certificate, the decision relied upon by the learned counsel for the petitioner could have been applicable. But, when the Rules of the Post Office, permit the Karta of HUF to purchase the National Saving Certificate by adding the name of another coparcener of the HUF, the case would not be identical to the case which was dealt with by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in A.D. Thirukoil, Palani (supra).
(8) Moreover, the clarification, given by the D.G. P&T was not statutory in nature and therefore can not be a substitute for the statutory rules framed by the Government in exercise of the power conferred by Government Savings Banks Act, 1873 or the notification issued under the said rules. The learned counsel for the petitioner has not been able to show any statutory rules or notification, which prohibits a person who is the Karta of HUF from purchasing National Saving Certificate without joining another coparcener of the HUF as a co-purchaser. In the absence of a statutory Rule/Notification, the Post Office, having accepted the deposit in the single name of the depositor, cannot on maturity of the deposit, refuse payment of interest to the investor. In any case, since the National Saving Certificate could have been purchased by a single individual in his own name, at the relevant time, the Post Office could have converted the National Saving Certificate purchased by the respondent from the name of Sh. Deepak Puri, Karta of HUF to Sh. Deepak Puri.
(9) For the reasons referred hereinabove, we find no merit in the revision petition and the same is hereby dismissed. Since, we are not inclined to interfere with the orders of the State Commission on merits, we also dismiss the accompanying application for condonation of delay in filing the revision petition.
V. K. JAIN, J
DR. B.C. GUPTA
NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION NEW DELHI
REVISION PETITION NO. 2342 OF 2014
(From the order dated 15.04.2014 in First Appeal No. 909 of 2013 of State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Delhi)
WITH IA/3646/2014 (STAY)
M/s. TDI Infrastructure Ltd. 9, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi-110001 Through its Authorized Representative ... Petitioner