Postal dept. to pay candidate for lost exam chance

CHENNAI APRIL 15. A consumer disputes redress forum has directed the Postal department to pay a compensation of Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 1,000 as costs to a postgraduate, whose application was delivered late, depriving him of an opportunity of writing an all-India competitive examination.

The forum ordered that the amount be paid by the department. It could be recovered later from the salary of erring officials.

S. Venkata Ramanan of Sendur, Tindivanam taluk, complained to the District Consumer Disputes Redress Forum, Villupuram, that he had sent his application to the Union Public Service Commission for the IAS preliminary examination, by EMS Speed Post through the Tindivanam head post office, in January 2002 after paying Rs.50. But the post reached the UPSC 14 days after the last date for receipt of applications.

Hence his candidature was rejected. Having completed 28 years, he lost a chance of writing the competitive examination. Only one more opportunity was left for him.

The Director-General of Postal Services, New Delhi; the Chief Postmaster-General, Tamil Nadu circle; the Senior Superintendent of Post Offices, Pondicherry, and the postmaster, HPO, Tindivanam, were cited as opposite parties.

The department submitted that though the article reached New Delhi two days after it had been posted, it was held up at the delivery point, during handling of a large number of Speed Post articles addressed to the UPSC.

It was found nearly a fortnight after the close of receipt of applications and delivered the same day. There was no wilful default.

The forum president, P. Perumalappan; and the members, Seenu Kalyanasundaram and Noorjahan Anwarbasha, referred to a National Consumer Disputes Redress Commission ruling, that ``... . not doing something one ought to do is also an act of will and therefore covered by `wilful act' mentioned in Section 6 of the Indian Post Office Act as one of the circumstances, where the liability can be fixed on the Postal department and its functionaries".

In view of this ruling, the department's arguments failed, the forum said.

Its contention that the sender did not make any complaint with the post office was not sustainable because the delayed delivery came to light only after he had received the UPSC letter, rejecting his application.

When an article was not delivered to the addressee within a reasonable period, the purpose of sending it by Speed Post was lost.

Holding up the article at the delivery point showed lethargy on the part of the department, the forum said.

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