Have you ever been a victim of a misplaced courier or undelivered package sent via the Indian Postal Service? If yes, then you ought to read about how S Swaminathan, a resident of Poes Garden, Chennai, fought a legal battle and was justly compensated.
Facts as known
In 2012, Swaminathan had ordered from the Government Mint Mumbai coins demonstrating 1000 years of Brihadeeswarar temple, Thanjavur. He sent a demand draft of Rs 52,185 for the purchase.
In the petition submitted by Swaminathan to the consumer forum, he alleged that the Mylapore Head Post Office (MHPO) returned the parcel to the Mint without making any efforts to reach him.
Unaware of this and assuming that the Mint had not processed his order, Swaminathan sent another demand draft of Rs 3800 to it toward courier charges for his purchase. When he received the second parcel, he found out that MHPO had returned the first parcel to the Mint stating that ‘addressee deceased’. Upon hearing this, Swaminathan felt great mental agony.
The consumer forum found negligence and deficiency in service on the part of the postal department and directed it to pay Rs 33,800 to the complainant.
While Swaminathan was able to get relief from the consumer forum, many other complainants do not meet with the same success. Section 6 of the Indian Post Office Act of 1898 shields Indian postal authorities against legal cases.
The section provides that a claim cannot be made against the postal department or its officers merely on the ground that there has been loss, misdelivery, delay or damage to any postal article unless the same has been caused fraudulently by the officer concerned or by his wilful act or by default.
In most cases, it is difficult for the sender of the article to prove the fraud, default or wilful conduct of the postal officers and therefore the complainant fails to receive any relief.
In the case of Swaminathan, MPHO had returned the package marked as ‘addressee deceased’, and since the postal officials did not attempt to verify the same, the consumer forum gave the order in favour of Swaminathan.
According to a report published in India Today, in January 24, 1994, the then President of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Justice V B Eradi, while addressing the National Convention of the Presidents of Consumer Courts observed that “the very ancient enactment, viz. the Indian Post Office Act of 1898 enacted during the British colonial period is still on our statute books. These provisions were enacted at that time to protect the interests of the British imperialist government and they are totally out of tune with the altered state of things presently existing in modern India.” He, therefore, told the authorities that it is highly necessary to take urgent steps to repeal such anachronistic provisions.
The Section remains unchanged despite two decades old recommendations.
How to lodge a complaint?
You can file a complaint for loss of parcels, non-delivery or wrong delivery of an article, non-refund of charges, and non-receipt of acknowledgement among others.
For lodging complaints, users have to fill up an online form with particulars such as transaction type, complaint type, date of transaction, details of transaction and destination post offices, sender and addressee details etc.
For details about where to lodge the complaint in case of a deficiency in service, you could refer to the official website, wherein a list of addresses and e-mail ids have been provided.
In 2016, the Ministry of Communications launched a helpline number—1924, to address and solve postal complaints.
Except in the case of policy decisions, all complaints related to postal services will be addressed within 24 Hours, the official release said. Policy decisions will be resolved within a week time.
So in case you encounter any trouble with your package because of the Indian Postal Services, do not forget to try these methods to resolve the issue.
Source: Cover image
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)