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Delhi SCDRC Upholds ₹5 Lakh Fine on Airtel for Harassment and Service Deficiency

The Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) has recently upheld a ₹5 lakh penalty on Airtel for harassing a customer with incessant phone calls and disconnecting his services over alleged unpaid dues, despite the payment having been made

This ruling was made in the case of [Bharti Airtel Limited V. Jasmeet Singh Puri (Deceased)].

Negligence and Harassment by Airtel

A panel consisting of State Commission President Dr. Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal and Judicial Member Pinki found Airtel negligent in providing services and guilty of using their position to harass the client. The SCDRC upheld the district consumer forum’s decision from September 4, 2014, which imposed the fine on Airtel for their deficiency in service.

Failure to Provide Adequate Service

“It is clear that the Appellant (Airtel) failed to provide adequate service to Respondent no.1, causing the Respondent to suffer consequences. The deficiency on the part of the Appellant stands proved. We find no infirmity in the District Commission’s judgment,” the Delhi SCDRC noted in its July 1 order.

Timeline of Events

The case began when the customer subscribed to Airtel’s internet and landline services. In March 2013, the customer paid ₹4,995 via cheque for these services. However, Airtel claimed the cheque was dishonored due to insufficient funds and began incessant calls to the customer about the issue.

Despite the customer providing bank statements confirming the payment was credited to Airtel’s account, Airtel continued to deny receipt and disconnected the customer’s internet services in May 2013. They further sent a legal notice demanding ₹7,549.

Consumer Complaint and Forum’s Ruling

Frustrated by Airtel’s actions, the customer filed a complaint with the district consumer disputes redressal forum. He reported that despite informing Airtel about the payment, the harassment persisted through phone calls and emails.

In September 2014, the district forum described Airtel’s behavior as “crass, bizarre, and motivated misconduct.” It ordered Airtel to pay ₹5 lakhs as punitive compensation—₹3 lakhs to the customer and ₹2 lakhs to the State Consumer Welfare Fund.

Dismissal of Airtel’s Appeal

Airtel appealed the decision to the State Commission, which dismissed the appeal on July 1. The SCDRC found that Airtel failed to provide evidence of investigating the customer’s complaints or taking steps to cease the harassing calls.

Legal Representation

Advocates KG Gopalkrishnan and Nisha Mohandas represented Airtel, while the Law Firm Legal Knights represented the customer (now deceased) and his legal heir.

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