The National Consumer Rights Redressal Commission, India’s top consumer court, has reversed orders by lower foras that had awarded damages in lieu of a registered post that was lost in transit by India Post.
Presiding member Justice JM Malik set aside the orders of district and Chhatisgarh state consumer commission after holding that India Post cannot be seen as a provider of commercial postal services, but as an arm of the government. As the government cannot be hauled to consumer courts, so the postal department cannot be made to pay for misplacing registered posts, he ruled.
“Services rendered by the Post Office are merely statutory and there is no contractual liability,” NCDRC said quoting an earlier order of the commission.
Malik went on to point out that while courier companies can be sought damages from if they lose packages and letters, the same rule is not applicable for India Post as it was not a ‘commercial entity’.
“Establishing the Post Offices and running the postal service the Central Government performs a governmental function and the Government does not engage in commercial transaction with the sender of the article through post,” the order noted.
Malik also said that the postal charges cannot be seen as a charge under a commercial contract, but only as “charges posed by the State for the enjoyment of the facilities provided by the Postal Department.”
The case was filed by Amitabh Srivastava, an advocate from Korba in Chhattisgarh, after India Post lost a registered notice he had sent to the Manager, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, Pune.
Both the district forum as well as the Chhattisgarh State Commission awarded Rs 6000 as damages and costs to Srivastava and ruled against India Post. However, the NCDRC reversed the orders and canceled the damages that were awarded.