Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been found guilty of wrongfully forfeiting the security deposit of a dealer. The state-run telco has been ordered to pay Rs 10.5 lakh to the concerned dealer by the commercial court. BSNL continued to provide services to a customer for a long time, even after he had stopped paying bills. According to a TNN report, the court believed that it wasn’t the fault of the dealer that the telco kept on providing services to a customer who wasn’t paying bills. Thus, forfeiting the dealer’s security deposit wasn’t right in this case.
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The report said that back in 2002, BSNL and Pradeep Pokhriyal entered into an agreement where Pradeep was allotted a dealership for marketing and distribution of mobile services for two years after paying a security deposit of Rs 5 lakh. BSNL issued a phone number to a user named Surendra Ratwal during this period. Ratwal stopped paying the bills, and apparently, his outstanding amount reached Rs 4.16 lakh. Because of this, BSNL forfeited the security deposit that Pokhriyal was supposed to get after the expiry of the contract period.
To resolve the matter, Pokhriyal approached the high court. The court appointed PC Aggarwal, a retired district judge, as a mediator to resolve the matter. Upon listening to the facts, the arbitrator awarded Rs 10.5 lakh to Pokhriyal. BSNL didn’t like the decision and challenged it in the commercial court.
But even the commercial court believed that it was the duty of the state-run telco to verify the address of the customer before releasing the mobile phone connection to him. The court was also surprised that BSNL kept on providing services to the user for 18 months after he did not pay the bill. Thus, the commercial court sided with the decision of the arbitrator and asked BSNL to pay Rs 10.5 lakh to the dealer for wrongfully terminating his security deposit.