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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Charging over MRP at airports - 4

Read Charging over MRP at airports - 3 first.

The Consumer Court hearing was yesterday in the Seshadripuram Consumer Court. I had never been to this part of town and didn't have the slightly clue how to get there. The night before I spent two hours pouring over Google maps, figuring out which route I would take from BTM Layout (where I stay) to Seshadripuram. (For those who have done this in other countries, you would know how easy it can be.) Not so with Bangalore, a jumble of roads and one ways made my life hell. The hearing was at 11; I left at 9:30 to leave plenty of time for travel. I managed to make it to Seshadripuram following my written directions with little trouble by 10:30, but finding the Consumer Court after that was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Nobody seemed to know where it was, I spent half an hour searching through the jumble of roads and one ways, finally found it at 11, took me 10 mins to find a parking and ran into the court at 11:15. Just in time. In a couple of minutes my case number was called.

And in 10 seconds my file was put aside by the court reader and I was told curtly that the next hearing would be on 24th May. Whatdf...? What happened? I couldn't talk with the reader since the Court was in session.

So I went and spoke to the Consumer Court officials who told me that the next date of hearing had been set for 24th. I wanted to know why, they didn't know. Said only the reader would know. Ok. So I had to wait for the session to get over. I was starting to get mad now. All this way for nothing.

Finally, the session got over at 12. I went and spoke to the reader. He said that the summon had been sent to the opposite party and the next hearing was on 24th. I will not be in town on that date, so I asked for a change of date. He rudely refused, said that was procedure and there was nothing he can do. My appeals fell on deaf ears.

By now I was completely pissed. I had taken a lot of trouble to get here, spent my time, energy, money. All for nothing. There was no hearing, the next hearing date was set to date when I would not be present, the reader refused to change the date, and top of that was showing me his arrogance. This is the problem with babudom everywhere, the small fry think they are the smartest cats around, while the real big shots are people who listen, understand and are reasonable.

Again went back to the Consumer Court official and told him that I would not be there, so could he please change the date. This guy also started showing me his bad attitude. Told me if I would not be present, too bad. They wouldn't change it. So I told him that I want to meet the President. For a moment he was shocked... then he said "impossible, nobody can meet him", sounding all pompous and officious. I told him everything was possible and I want to meet him immediately. So he told me to wait, since the President was meeting somebody. After 15 mins or so, my patience began running out and I pestered this guy again. He took my file inside, spoke to the President and came back and said that the date was fixed, it cannot be changed. I was quite surprised. This was very unusual. In the last Consumer Court case, the dates were changed to suit our convenience. Now I could imagine the babus acting self-important and not changing the date, but for the President to say the same thing seemed strange. So I told the guy that I was going inside to meet the President, whether he liked it or not. The guy forbade me from meeting him. Can you believe the gall of this fellow? He told the guard outside the door not to let me in. Unbelievable! I told him I was going inside and he could do whatever he wanted to try and stop me, and I stepped inside the President's chamber.

The President (who is the presiding judge of one of the forums, BTW) was talking with another judge, a lady. I explained the problem to them. They said, no problem, get the date changed. However, I need not be present. The summons had been sent to the opposite party, and on the next hearing they would come and argue the case. That was all there was to it. Such a simple thing, problem solved. Now why couldn't the pompous fools outside have explained this to me instead of being over smart? And these two judges were extremely nice, they explained the procedure to me, said I need not have come today either. I complained about the behavior of the people outside and that their behavior was markedly contrasting with the judges behavior. Couple of minutes later, I was done chatting with the judges and left.

Persistence, Watson, persistence gets one everywhere. Now to wait and see what happens on 24th May. I am really excited about this case. In the meantime I have to follow up on the complaint I'd made to the Commercial Taxes Dept.

Continue reading Charging over MRP at airports - 5.

Fight for your rights! - Update 20

Yesterday the milk vendor came to the house at night. Mr sweetness himself. He wanted to know whether we have not dropped the case against him. I told him we had dropped the IPC case after he gave his apology, but the Consumer Court case had gone against him and he has to pay a fine. First he denied knowing anything. So I told him that its OK. If he says that he has not received anything from the court, he should not pay. The court will deal with him. Then he started his story of poor man, he didn't know what he was saying, he was very sorry, blah blah blah. Since the day of the incident bad luck has been following him around. He is a very helpful person in the neighborhood, in fact, he has helped the owner of my house build this house, he helps people out of a genuine feeling, doesn't even ask for money. When he saw that I wasn't convinced, he said to come to his shop and collect the fine money from him. Indeed? Nothing doing. I told him to come and deliver to my house, which he said he will do next Monday.

Then he said that "if he had known that we would file the case, etc against him he would never have behaved this way" and repeated this a few times. This to me is the most important learning from this incident. This is an amazing thought. The reason people like him act and behave this way is because people like you and me do not raise an objection. Is this surprising? Of course not. Its something I have known... and I wanted to prove, as I mentioned many posts ago, that I wanted to call his bluff. It pains me that we don't raise a voice against the many injustices we face everyday. The next time this guy will be very very careful with everybody. A small victory but one I hope that will help other people to emulate.

This story is not over though. In the order passed by the Consumer Court, the judges have written a very strong statement against KMF for allowing this incident to happen and for the overcharging. We intend to get this published in the newspaper. KMF people were very afraid of the bad publicity resulting from an adverse Consumer Court judgement, which is why they had visited us many times to ask us to take back the case. We had refused. My wife had met the Managing Director of KMF over this incident. Now we have to meet him again and give him a copy of the judgement. Let the fun begin.

Do the meek inherit the earth? Yeah right, and pigs have wings and can fly.

Read Fight for your rights! - Update 19.