Published on: 2 August 2023 at 14:25 IST
The Calcutta High Court has emphasized the paramount importance of post offices in upholding the trust of citizens, a trust built over decades of faithful service. Justice Shekhar Saraf, presiding over the case of Sulekha Chatterjee v. Union of India, condemned the fraudulent actions of a local post office agent in Burnpur who deceived the kin of a slain army personnel.
The court ordered the post office to pay ₹6,99,500 to the family of the deceased army personnel, who had invested in a Monthly Income Scheme (MIS) and a fixed deposit through the post office agent.
The petitioner’s husband, an overseer in the Border Road Organization, lost his life in a bomb blast in 2003 while working on the ‘Basoli Bani’ highway construction in Jammu & Kashmir.
Justice Shekhar Saraf’s ruling reiterated that post offices serve as more than just carriers of letters and emotions; they are also guardians of people’s savings. The trust placed in post offices by citizens is of immense importance, and it is the sacred duty of the postal department to uphold that trust continuously.
The court highlighted that any breach of this trust not only affects the individuals involved but also erodes the overall trust of citizens in the postal system—the lifeline of the Indian republic.
The case involved nearly ₹13 lakh in compensation received by the petitioner from the State and Central governments. The petitioner invested around ₹7 lakh in a post office MIS and fixed deposit in 2010.
However, after receiving installments until June 2012, she discovered that the MIS agent had committed fraud, diverting her investment funds. Despite seeking a refund of ₹4.99 lakh from the post office, the petitioner received no response, compelling her to approach the High Court for justice.
During the proceedings, the post office authorities attempted to evade responsibility, claiming that the fraudulent agent was employed by the West Bengal government and, therefore, the post office should not be held liable.
The court, however, firmly rejected this contention, calling it an attempt to shirk their legal and ethical obligation to compensate the petitioner.
The Court unequivocally condemned the actions of the post office agent and other officials involved in the fraud and expressed deep regret for the distress caused to the petitioner. Ultimately, the court directed the authorities to settle the petitioner’s claim by paying her ₹6.99 lakh.
Advocates Sanjoy Mukherjee and Jayabrata Mukherjee represented the petitioner during the proceedings. This ruling serves as a crucial reminder of the immense responsibility post offices carry and their duty to maintain the trust instilled in them by citizens.