The apex consumer commission has directed the Indian postal service to pay Rs 24.8 lakh to two brothers towards the maturity value of the small-savings scheme certificates bought for them by their late father but were lost.
In two separate but common orders, the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) said that since there were no claimants for the amount, the post office could not have appropriated the entire amount forever due to non-submission of the certificates.
NCDRC rejected the appeal of the post office against the decisions of the Odisha State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission and a district forum which had directed payment of the amounts to the two brothers -- Jambu Kumar Jain and Chhagan Lal Jain, sons of Late Rama Chandra Jain.
The postal department was not paying the maturity value without submission of the certificates.
"Several years have elapsed and the amount deposited still lies with the Postal Department. So far there appears no other claimant for the amount. It certainly cannot be the case of the Petitioner to appropriate the entire amount forever, since the lost documents has not been submitted to them", a bench of members Anup K Thakur and C Viswanath said.
The commission said it would have been "fair and reasonable" to pay the maturity value after proper verification of the claimants and after taking due precautions, like an indemnity bond, to secure the interests of the postal department.
According to the brothers' plea in the state commission and the district forum, their father had purchased 692 Indira Vikas Patras (IVP) in the name of his sons, daughters and others from the Head Post Office, Bolangir.
Out of the 692, 88 IVPs were in favour of Jambu Kumar whereas 160 were in favour of Chhagan Lal, the plea had said and added that all of the 692 IVPs were lost and it was reported to the local police station in June, 2001.
Thereafter, the post office was intimated to stay the payment of maturity values of the lost IVPs without proper verification, their petitions had said.
Later, both Chhagan Lal and Jambu Kumar had raised a demands towards the maturity value of the IVPs they were entitled to, but the Superintendent of post office rejected both their claims.
Chhagan Lal had raised a demand of Rs 16,00,000 towards a maturity value of 160 IVPs whereas Jambu Kumar had raised a demand of Rs 8,80,000 towards maturity value of 88 IVPs.
The district forum, had in 2016 ordered the post office to pay the maturity values within 35 days along with penalty.
When approached, the State Commission had dismissed the post office's appeal against which it had moved NCDRC.