Postal department fined for NSS agent’s fraud

In a judgement of far-reaching consequences, delivered at the end of a legal battle lasting 15 years, the Ernakulam Consumer Red-ressal Forum has penalised the postal department for a fraud committed by a National Savings Scheme agent on a depositor.

On the orders of the forum, the postal department deposited Rs 54,826, inclusive of interest on a portion of the deposit, at the forum to be given to the heirs of the late P.K. Radhadevi of Perumba-voor, whose Rs 44,575 was taken away by NSS agent K.R. Lalithabhai using the former’s forged signature.

The forum ordered that this amount be paid rejecting the contention of the postal department that the NSS agents were under the control of National Savings Department and the postal department was not liable.

Radhadevi joined the RD account of NSS in January 1993 through Lalithabhai and remitted `1,000 per month till April, 1997.

The total deposit till date was Rs 52,000. In the meantime, Lalithabhai withdrew Rs 44,575 from the account using Radhadevi’s forged signature. The agent had kept the passbook to the account at that time.

Though Radhadevi approa-ched the postal authorities with a petition, they turned it down. Later, she approa-ched the Consumer Redres-sal Forum, which ruled in 1998 that the case did not come under its purview. She approached the state forum that asked the district forum to consider the case.

In the meantime, Radhadevi passed away in 2001 and her sons Santhosh Kumar and Suresh Kumar pursued the case. The agent Lalithabhai is still absconding.

The postal department, interestingly, had imposed a penalty of Rs 29,716 on two NSS staff for the lapse in this connection.

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