SRI. S. CHANDRAMOHAN NAIR : MEMBER
The 1st opposite party in CC.162/08 before the CDRF, Pathanamthitta is the appellant herein who is aggrieved by the rder dated 13.5.2010 directing the appellant to pay to the complainant a sum of Rs.12751/- with 10% interest from 31.3.07 along with compensation of Rs.5000/- and cost of Rs.1000/- within 30 days from the date of receipt of the order failing which the appellant is under further direction to pay 12% interest per annum from the date of order till the whole amount is paid.
2.The complainant has approached the Forum stating hthat he is a retired Government teacher and that consequent to his retirement on 31.3.07, his subscription to GPF was not properly closed and that he was entitled to get a sum of Rs.12751/- towards the balance. Claiming the balance amount and imputing deficiency in service on the part of the opposite parties, the complaint was filed praying for idrections to the opposite parties to pay the unpaid balance of Rs.12751/- with 21% interest alongwith compensation of Rs.25000/- and cost of Rs.2500/-.
3. In the version filed by the opposite parties the allegations of the complainant were refuted. The 1st opposite party contended that the complaint was not maintainable as there was no consumer relationship between the complainant and the opposite parties as envisaged under the Consumer Protection Act. However the details of the Provident Fund account and other relevant details were also furnished by the opposite parties in their version.
4. The evidence consisted of the oral testimony of the complainant as PW1 and Exts.A1 to A3. On the side of the opposite parties Ext.B1 to B3 were marked.
5. The Forum below passed the order finding that the complaint was maintainable and that the 1st opposite party was liable to pay Rs.12751/- with compensation of Rs.5000/- and cost of Rs.1000/- The said directions are strongly assailed by the appellant. The learned counsel appearing for the appellant/1st opposite party vehemently argued before us that the Forum below ought to have found that the complaint as against the opposite parties ought to have been dismissed finding that there was no consumer relationship between the complainant and the opposite parties. It is submitted by the learned counsel that the Honble Supreme Court has held that services rendered âfree of chargeâ or under a contract of personal service would be excluded from the purview of the Consumer Protection Act. Inviting our attention to the decision of the Honble Supreme Court in âState of Orissa vs. Divisional Manager,LIC and anotherâ (1996 (8) Supreme Court cases 655) she advanced the contention that Government servant is bound by the service conditions and in the instant case also the complainant was a government servant and the complainants remedy if any, was elsewhere. The learned counsel relied on a decision to this Commission also in Appeal 741/01 wherein it is found that a complaint against the Accountant General, Kerala regarding non payment of PF amounts cannot be adjudicated by the Consumer Protection agencies.
6. On the other hand the amicuscuriae, Adv.R.Narayan, appearing for the respondent, opposed the contentions of the learned counsel for the appellant. It is argued by him that the complainant was a subscriber of the opposite parties and quoting Blacks Law Dictionary, he submitted before us that the subscription will amount to contribution of a sum of money for a designated purpose either gratuitously or in consideration of an equivalent to be rendered and in the instant case also it was a subscription and hence the findings and conclusions of the Forum below can be upheld.
7. On hearing both sides and also on perusing the records, we find that the complainant himself has admitted that he was a Government servant who retired from service on 31.3.2007 and he was a subscriber to GPF from 1980 onwards and that consequent to his retirement, the 1st opposite party has failed to verify the accounts correctly and an amount of Rs.12751/- was due to him. However the learned counsel for the appellant has argued before us that a complaint of this nature cannot be adjudicated by the Consumer Forum since the opposite parties were rendering service not after receiving any consideration from the employee for the discharge of the statutory functions. As argued by the learned counsel for the appellant we find that Honble Supreme Court has also taken such a view and this Commission had followed the same. It is also found that the decision of Honble National Commission in âOm Prakash Sethi Vs. Accountant General Haryanaâ (III 2010 CPJ 289 NC) the Honble National Commission has held that AG does not receive any consideration from employer/employee and he discharges statutory functions under Constitution of India. Though the amicuscuriae would argue that subscription would involve payment of consideration also it is to be found that the AG is discharging only statutory functions and the Honble National Commission in the case cited has clearly stated that GPF amounts, if not paid, cannot be subject matter for adjudication under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act. In the instant case also we find that the said decision is very much applicable. We find that the order of the Forum below is without any jurisdiction and hence is liable to be dismissed.
In the result appeal is allowed. The order dated 13..5..2010 in CC 162/08 of CDRF, Pathanamthitta is set aside. However the 1st respondent/complainant is at liberty to seek his remedy before the appropriate authorities if he so desires. In the nature and circumstances of the present appeal, parties are directed to suffer their respective costs.
Office is directed to send back the LCR to the Forum below along with a copy of this order.