New Delhi: Dismissing an appeal of a complaint, against St Stephens Hospital, who had demanded a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh citing mental torture and agony, when he was not able get a money refund of Rs 1120/- for a test that was not performed at the hospital, the Delhi State Consumer Forum categorically stated that
“Consumer Forums are not meant to enrich the greedy consumers.”
The case was filed by one complainant, who had visited with his wife at St. Stephen Hospital for consulting a Gynaecologist. It was alleged that after examination, 02 tests i.e. Foetal Echo and sugar were prescribed. For the said tests appellant/complainant had deposited Rs.1470/- with the hospital. However, only one test was conducted at the lab of the hospital and ultrasound department refused to do the other test i.e. Foetal Echo on the ground of non-availability of the facility.
Thereupon, the appellant/complainant contacted the doctor who had recommended for the said test. However, the said doctor wrote on the backside of the bill for refund of the amount of Rs.1120/-.
Appellant/complainant had alleged that despite repeated visits and legal notice dated 30.07.2016, the aforesaid amount was not refunded. Thereupon, he filed the aforesaid complaint before District Forum claiming refund of Rs.1120/- alongwith Rs.1500/- towards legal notice sent and Rs.1,50,000/- as compensation for mental torture and agony.
The hospital filed written statement and on the first date of hearing, offered a sum of Rs.2240/- i.e. double of the amount claimed by the appellant/complainant towards full and final settlement, which was not accepted by the appellant/complainant. In the reply, the hospital denied the allegations of refusal to refund the amount of Rs.1120/- as was alleged.
It is reported that the case had first gone to a district forum and After hearing the parties, the District Forum awarded a sum of Rs.2240/- to the appellant/complainant and keeping in view the background of the case noted in the impugned order that order for compensation and litigation costs is not being made as the consumer fora are not made for enrichment of consumers.
Aggrieved with the district forum order , the complainant filed an appeal with the state forum.
The Counsel for the appellant/complainant has contended that the appellant/complainant had to make several efforts to get refund of amount of Rs.1120/-, even legal notice was sent in this regard, which was not responded by the hospital. It is contended that the officials of hospital also told him that there was no refund policy. It was contended that had the hospital any intention to refund the amount, it would have sent the same to the appellant/complainant on receipt of the legal notice sent by the appellant/complainant.
It was further added that the appellant/complainant incurred much more expenses and also spent expenses for filing the complaint as such District Forum ought to have awarded compensation and litigation costs.
After going through the submissions, the court reiterated that the hospital on its appearance before the Ld. District Forum had offered a sum of Rs.2240/- i.e. double of the amount claimed by the appellant/complainant towards full and final settlement and it was the appellant/complainant who had declined the same. The allegation of refusal of the hospital to refund the amount by the official of the hospital has not been substantiated in any manner. Even the names of the officials who have allegedly refused to refund the amount, have not been stated. It is the appellant who has continued litigation with respondent/OP Ld. District Forum has specifically given reasoning for not awarding compensation and litigation costs to the appellant/complainant, which is as under:
“The OP has on the first date of hearing offered to refund Rs.2240/-. A copy of demand draft dated 30.11.2016 for a sum of Rs.2240/- drawn in favour of the complainant has also been filed as proof of bonafide on the part of the OP. it will also be relevant to note here that the complaint was filed on 28.09.2016. In view of the above discussion and especially the fact that the OP from the very first date of appearance was willing to pay double the claimed amount but the complainant prolonged the litigation. In our view the ends of justice would be met if, we award a sum of Rs.2240/- to the complainant. We are consciously making no order as to compensation and litigation cost as the Consumer Forums are not meant to enrich the greedy consumers.”
Finding no reason to disagree with the Ld. District Forum, the court observed that there is no illegality in the impugned order, the appeal stands dismissed in limine.