National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
Circuit Bench at Chennai
(From the order dated 4.10.2005 passed in Appeal No.a.P. No.93 of 2000, by the State Commission, Tamil Nadu)
Dr. R. Jagan Petitioner
Pollachi : 642 001.
.1. The Director,
Motor Vehicles Maintenance Department,
Ashok Nagar Shopping Complex,
Chennai 600 083.
.2. The Deputy Transport Commissioner,
Chennai 600 017.
.3. Regional Transport Officer,
Chennai 110 041. Respondents.
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE M.B.SHAH, PRESIDENT,
MRS. RAJYALAKSHMI RAO, MEMBER.
For the Petitioner : Smt. Aruna Ganesh,
For the Respondent No.1 : Mr. K.Senthu Kumar,
For the Respondents No.2 & 3 : Mr. V.R.Thangavelu,
M.B.SHAH, J. PRESIDENT:
Petitioner purchased an Ambassador car in an auction held by the Respondents -
the Director, Motor Vehicle Maintenance
Department & Ors. He purchased the said vehicle on 7.9.1994. The possession of the vehicle was delivered
on 28.10.1994 after receipt of full sum,
namely, Rs.25,999/-. However, the R.C.Book
and the T.O.Form were not delivered to him for reasons best known to the
Opposite Parties. The contention of the Complainant is that for making the car
roadworthy, which was an Ambassador Car, he was required to spend more than a
sum of Rs.1 lakh. As the necessary documents were not handed over to him,
despite repeated letters and visits to the office of the Respondents on various occasions, he
was required to file O.P.No. 151 of 1995 before the District Forum,
The District Forum considered the fact that despite various requests the Opposite Parties failed to issue the R.C.Book, but, immediately after filing of the complaint in April, 1995, they issued the registration certificate in June, 1995. The District Forum also noted that the Complainant was required to incur expenses towards hiring of taxis for carrying out his work. For this deficiency in service by the Opposite Parties the District Forum directed the Opposite Parties to pay a sum of Rs.50,000/- for damages and Rs.10,000/- as compensation and Rs.5,000/- as costs of litigation.
Against that order, the Opposite Party preferred Appeal No.93 of 2000 the State Commission. The State Commission confirmed the finding that the R.C.Book and the T.O. Form were not given to the Complainant and that he was sending repeated letters to the Opposite Parties for getting the same. This aspect is discussed by the State Commission in paragraph 11 of its judgment. The State Commission also noted that the dilly-dallying attitude of the Opposite Parties provoked the Complainant to issue legal notice on 7.1.1995 to the Opposite Parties. The State Commission also noted from Exhibit A-16 that it was proved that the car which was auctioned and purchased by the Complainant was used by the Opposite Party No.2, namely, the Deputy Transport Commissioner, for more than 5 years, and, therefore, it would have been easily possible for the Opposite Party No.2 to have issued the duplicate R.C.Book, and, unfortunately, the Opposite Parties were blaming one another and in the process the Complainant suffered.
Despite this finding, the State Commission reduced the amount of Rs.50,000/- awarded by the District Forum for damages to Rs.20,000/-, and Rs.5,000/- for mental agony. Against that order of the State Commission this Revision Petition is filed by the Complainant.
The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Complainant submitted that the Petitioner who is a Doctor purchased the vehicle for his personal use. He paid the full amount as per the auction price. Despite this, the officers of the Respondent harassed him and failed to handover the R.C.Book and the T.O.Form. He was required to spend money for getting the Legal Notice issued. He has written a number of letters. It is the submission of the learned counsel for the Complainant that if a man like the Complainant is harassed by the Respondents in such a manner, think over the plight of illiterate or poor persons, and visualize to what extent officers of the Opposite Parties can harass the common man. She further submits that this is a fit case not only to confirm the order passed by the District Forum but also to award more compensation so that in future officers would behave properly.
As against this, learned counsel appearing for the Opposite Parties submitted that the Opposite Parties have already complied with the order passed by the State Commission and paid Rs.25,000/-. He has further submitted that it is not a fit case for enhancement of compensation because Complainant has failed to prove that he was required to spend Rs.50,000/- by hiring taxies, and the receipts for hiring taxies produced by the Complainant are rightly doubted by the State Commission.
In our view, presuming that the Complainant has failed to prove the receipts, but this would not mean that he must not have spend money for attending his work and the car which was purchased by him could not be used by him for want of R.C.Book and T.O.Form.
This case illustrates how a common man / little man can be harassed by the government officials. In such a situation, it would be just and proper to rely upon the observations by the Apex Court Lucknow Development Authority Vs. M.K.Gupta (1994) 1 SCC 243.
The jurisdiction and power of the courts to indemnify a citizen for injury suffered due to abuse of power by public authorities is founded as observed by Lord Hailsham in Cassell & Co. Ltd. v. Broome 1972 AC 1027 : (1972) 1 All ER 801 on the principle that, an award of exemplary damages can serve a useful purpose in vindicating the strength of law. An ordinary citizen or a common man is hardly equipped to match the might of the State or its instrumentalities. . A public functionary if he acts maliciously or oppressively and the exercise of power results in harassment and agony then it is not an exercise of power but its abuse. No law provides protection against it. He who is responsible for it must suffer it. .. Nothing is more damaging than the feeling of helplessness. An ordinary citizen instead of complaining and fighting succumbs to the pressure of undesirable functioning in offices instead of standing against it.
Thereafter, the Court also considered that who should pay compensation and further held as under:
It is unfortunate that matters which require immediate attention linger on and the man in the street is made to run from one end to other with no result. The culture of window clearance appears to be totally dead. Even in ordinary matters a common man who has neither the political backing nor the financial strength to match the inaction in public oriented departments gets frustrated and it erodes the credibility in the system.
Apex Court finally held that in such cases the Consumer Fora shall pass appropriate orders that competent authority / department shall pay the amount and recover the same from the concerned responsible officer for their unpardonable behaviour by dividing it proportionately where there are more than one functionary.
For better administration/governance the aforesaid law is required to be implemented so that in discharge of their duties the common man may not feel helplessness or frustrated. They succumb to the pressure of undesirable functioning in the offices instead of standing against that.
Hence, in our view, this is a fit case for at least paying the compensation of more than Rs.50,000/- to the Complainant, and, there was no justifiable reason for the State Commission to interfere with the discretionary order passed by the District Forum.
In the result, the Revision Petition is allowed. The impugned order passed by the State Commission modifying the order passed by the District Forum is set aside. The order passed by the District Forum is restored. The Respondents shall pay Rs.1,000/- as costs of this Revision Petition to the Complainant.
( M.B.SHAH )