Consumer Court Mandates Toll Plaza to Compensate ₹1 Lakh for Toll Overcharging

motor vehicle car law insider
motor vehicle car law insider

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Published on: 01 October 2023 at 15:42 IST

Recently, the Consumer Court issued a directive ordering a Toll Plaza to provide ₹1 Lakh in compensation for excessively charging toll fees.

The bench, consisting of President Satpal and Members Dr. Barhm Parkash Yadav and Dr. Sushma Garg, emphasized that “since the Toll Plaza had charged an excess rate from the complainant’s fast tag account, it was their obligation to promptly refund the surplus amount, either immediately or at the very least upon receiving the complainant’s refund request.”

In this particular case, the complainant, a Pinjore resident, used her car to commute to her job at the Treasury office in Panchkula before retiring in October 2019. She was entitled to a discounted monthly pass for crossing the Chandimandir toll plaza by paying Rs. 150 on a monthly basis. The pass was linked to a fast tag account, and Rs. 150 was deducted from it every month.

Also Read: Notable Cases: When Consumer Courts Awarded Extraordinary Damages

The complaint alleges that an incorrect deduction of Rs. 930 was made from her fast tag account by the operators in lieu of her monthly concessional pass. When the operators were contacted regarding the refund of the excess amount charged for the concessional monthly pass, the complainant was instructed to file a complaint. Subsequently, an online complaint was lodged with the ICICI fast tag authority.

It is claimed that Ms. Monika Sharma from ICICI Bank contacted the complainant and advised her to file a complaint again and wait seven days for the issue to be resolved. After a week passed without a favorable response, the complainant contacted Ms. Monika Sharma, who still did not provide a positive resolution.

The court opined that since the operators had charged the complainant an excessive rate from her fast tag account in violation of the relevant notification’s provisions, it was their duty to refund the excess amount promptly, or at least after receiving the complainant’s refund request. Instead of refunding the excess amount, the operators chose to offset it against future toll usage by the complainant. Retaining the excess amount in advance for the complainant’s anticipated future use of the toll plaza clearly constituted an unfair trade practice.

The bench noted that OP No.1 alleged that the complainant had already utilized Rs. 600 by using the toll plaza from February 2020 to May 2020, leaving Rs. 180 unutilized, which they were willing to reimburse. However, the court found this contention to be incorrect, as the complainant had not used the toll plaza facility during the entire month of April due to the lockdown.

The court stated that consumers who use the toll plaza facility without a validly issued fast tag with sufficient funds are charged double fees by the operators. In this case, the operators deducted Rs. 930 instead of Rs. 150, in violation of the instructions in the relevant notifications.

As a result, the bench partially accepted the complaint and directed OP No.1 to pay the complainant Rs. 330 along with 9% interest per annum.

Case Title: Anita Kumari v. M/s Himalayan Express Way Ltd.

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