August 8th, 2017
A Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission of Ahmedabad Rural has ordered leading telecom company Bharti Airtel to refund an amount of Rs 44.50 to a consumer for data loss caused due to the blocking of internet services during the Patidar quota agitation in 2015, reported Deccan Herald.
The agitation by the members of the Patel community seeking reservation under the OBC quota intensified on 25 August 2015. Clashes were reported from various parts of the city viz. Vadaj, Vastrapur, Nikol and Paldi as the police resorted to baton-charging and firing teargas shells to control the situation. The protesters were trying to enforce a bandh called by their community leader, Hardik Patel.
Airtel had suspended the cellular services of Anjana Brahmbhatt between 27 August to 4 September 2015, and she had decided on taking the matter to the court by making Bharati Airtel pay for her losses. The Commission asked the company to pay Anjana Brahmbhatt Rs 44.50, with a 12-per cent interest, from August 26, 2015.
Brahmbhatt had initially approached the company for the refund, but she was denied any return from Airtel. The Commission has, however, pointed out that not paying the refund would amount to unfair trade.
Brahmbhatt had paid Rs 178 for a 2GB internet package, valid for 28 days, on 5 August.
However, the internet services were suspended in Ahmedabad district through a circular issued by the police commissioner. Consequently, she was unable to use the internet on her phone during the period of which she had bought the package – Brahmbhatt had written in the application.
She was unable to do online banking, shopping, etc., besides being denied access to social media and instant messaging platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp because of the stalling of the internet services.
The complainant had approached the All India Consumer Protection and Action Committee as they fight for free without the need for service cuts or money back in return of Internet cuts during the agitation.
She had claimed Rs 10,000 for mental harassment and Rs 5,000 for legal expenditure.The court, however, ruled that since a government order was passed this was not in the hands of the company. Therefore, mental harassment and legal costs can not be compensated for. But, the court ordered the company to pay a sum of Rs. 55.18 with interest of Rs. 44.50 (12%).
Neha Parmar, the lawyer, working for Airtel claimed that this case is not a justified one and that the company works according to the government orders. The company reiterated the idea that the services were suspended based on the order of the police commissioner. The order had instructed telecom companies to block the services so that rumours were not spread and the law-and-order situation remained under control during the agitation.
The Logical Indian community appreciates the step that was taken by Anjana Brahmbhatt in an attempt to redress her grievances. What Anjana experienced for five days is not a stray incident, but most of us are unaware of how to go about it. Brahmbhatt has shown us a way by which we can get our dues back if we feel we have been cheated by the companies – it is essential that we bring this into practice.