In a recent case of postal delay, the authorities have found it difficult to explain how nine pass-books took more than five months to travel from Danesh Sheikh Lane, in Howrah, to Lansdowne Road, in south Calcutta, a distance of about 10 km.
The Howrah District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has taken exception to the delay in delivering the nine postal accounts of a schoolteacher and fined the department Rs 5,500 for harassing the customer. The postal employees were not granting any favour to the complainant by doing the work assigned to them, the court said on Monday.
Alok Bandhu Trivedi, the schoolteacher, who recently shifted from Andul, in Howrah, to Salt Lake, wanted to transfer his postal accounts to the Lansdowne Road post office (near his school). He had six MIS accounts, two recurring deposits and one savings account with the Danesh Sheikh Lane post office. He deposited the passbooks of all the accounts on February 2, 2002, to be transferred to the Lansdowne Road post office. Till July, however, the passbooks had not reached their destination.
The postal department, before replying to Trivedi’s charges, transferred the accounts to the Lansdowne Road post office between July 8 and 19.
The accounts were made operational between July 27 and 29, the department’s representatives told the court.
Trivedi also alleged that he was being harassed by the postmaster and employees of the post office where his accounts had been transferred, prompting the court to observe that it did not “find any reason to disbelieve his words”. It added: “The allegations against public servants are serious and cannot be overlooked.”
There was a serious deficiency in service on the part of the four post offices (Danesh Sheikh Lane, Lansdowne Road, Howrah and Park Street head post offices), the three-member bench said, adding that the staff was “negligent about official work”.
“No words are harsh enough to condemn the lackadaisical attitude of the postal employees to a bona fide consumer,” the court said, directing the chief postmaster-general and his subordinates to ensure that the complainant had no difficulty in depositing the required sum into his accounts. “He should be given all benefits, irrespective of the delay,” the members added.
After directing the department to pay Trivedi Rs 5,500, it asked the chief postmaster-general to hold an inquiry and take action against the delinquent employees and intimate the forum by December 31.