Travel Agency Asked To Refund Rs2.50 Lakh, Pay Rs35,000 Compensation for Deficiency in Service and Unfair Trade Practice
Moneylife Digital Team 07 September 2023
Expressing displeasure over the attempt by the counsel of a travel agency to re-open the case and reiterate all submissions raised in the fora below, the national consumer disputes redressal commission (NCDRC) directed Chandigarh-based AM Travels to refund Rs2.50 lakh with an interest of 9% and pay Rs35,000 as compensation and cost of litigation to a customer.
In an order, the NCDRC bench of justice Karuna Nand Bajpayee (presiding member) says, "(The) counsel (for AM Travels) was repeatedly requested not to delve upon the facts of the case and pleadings all over again and to demonstrate if he could, whether there is any jurisdictional error in the impugned order. The counsel has simply not been able to point out as to how any of the fora below has failed to exercise its jurisdiction or as to how have they exceeded the same. The counsel has simply failed to point out any element of perversity which may go to vitiate the findings recorded by the two commissions below."
"Though on the insistence of the counsel, the Bench has gone through the entire record as has been made available before it and has perused the twin orders passed by the district commission as well as by the state commission and also the pleadings that were put forth but the Bench does not find any such material irregularity or perversity of approach which may persuade it to re-appreciate the evidence differently and make a fresh disagreeing appraisal of the same again. Certainly, no jurisdictional error in the impugned order is perceptible," it added.
Chandigarh-based Jayant Ahuja and Nitin Kumar Bhola approached AM Travels to book a tour package to Dubai from 21 December 2017 to 25 December 2017 for seven adults and two children. They paid Rs3.86 lakh for the tour package. However, AM Travels failed to book the tour package. It then requested Mr Ahuja and Mr Bhola to change their trip dates. However, AM Travels could not finish visa formalities, hotel bookings or the air tickets.
To give more time to the agency, Mr Ahuja and Mr Bhola agreed to book their trip from 24 January 2018 to 28 January 2018. Subsequently, AM Travels, vide email dated 10 January 2018, sent hotel bookings in Dubai that were false or fake. Further, the agency in an email on 11 January 2018 informed that the visa of all the travellers was expected by 13 January 2018, failing which the amount would be refunded.
However, AM Travels again failed to do so and in response to the discussions held on 15 January 2018, it undertook to refund Rs3.86 lakh. Despite the understanding between both parties, AM Travels could get the visa of Mr Ahuja only on 15 January 2018. In an email on 20 January 2018, the agency informed that the refund was under process, but Mr Ahuja and Mr Bhola did not receive any payment.
The travellers then approached the Chandigarh district consumer disputes redressal commission. The district commission directed AM Travels to refund Rs2.50 lakh with 9% interest, pay Rs25,000 as compensation for mental agony and harassment and Rs10,000 as cost of litigation.
Aggrieved by the order, AM Travels filed an appeal before the Chandigarh Union territory consumer disputes redressal commission. After thoroughly examining all the facts once again and considering all the contentions raised on the agency's behalf, the state commission affirmed the order passed by the district commission.
It says, "...AM Travels was surely and definitely guilty of deficiency in service and unfair trade practice, in as much as, in the first instance, it failed to render proper services to the complainants, despite having charged the amount for the same in advance and thereafter, failed to honour its own commitment made to the complainants."
AM Travels then approached NCDRC. The Bench observed that the approach adopted by the district commission, which has been affirmed by the state commission whereby AM Travels refused to refund the money, appears to be a balanced approach and cannot be faulted with and even the rate of interest cannot be castigated for being exorbitant or disproportionate.
"This Bench fails to see any perversity in the orders of the two fora below as may go to vitiate their findings. Nor does the Bench find any jurisdictional error or material irregularity as may occasion to call for interference in the impugned order by way of exercise of the revisional jurisdiction of this Commission," Justice Bajpayee says while dismissing the appeal filed by AM Travels.
(Revision Petition No1683 of 2023 Date: 6 September 2023)
Thariyan Tharayil
2 weeks ago
I wonder if the cost of litigation in State and NCDRC is zero? When the district commission itself has awarded 10,000 as cost of litigation, the State should have increased it to 15000 and NCDRC to 20000. This will dissuade these fraud people from filing unnecessary appeal. And what about compensation for prolonged mental agony? poof
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