Even in this age of instant communication, the Indian postal department provides a lifeline for physical transmission of various items for most Indians. Data indicates that the postal department receives an average of 24 lakh complaints a year for non-delivery, delay and other such lapses. Most of these complaints are resolved. Here is a review.
India’s postal department has the largest postal network in the world. There are nearly 1.57 lakh post offices which are located across the country with 90% of them in rural areas and remaining 10% located in the urban areas. Though the origin of postal network in India can be traced back to 1727, it is the Indian Post Office Act of 1854 which laid the foundation for the modern-day postal system of India. Postal service is among the cheapest modes of communication. Besides the delivery of postal articles, the department also extends financial and insurance services and contributes to the socio- economic development in India.
Letters, Postcards, Inland Letter Cards, Packets, Ordinary, Registered, Insured, Value Payable articles and Speed Posts are some of the categories of postal articles. One has the option to insure their articles up to a stipulated amount to cover all risks in course of transmission by post. There are 26 such categories of mail services in total, including both domestic and international services. Because of such a large network & load, delays & non-delivery of items are some of the common grievances by users of the network.
Delay in delivery, non-delivery of articles, delivery to wrong address or unauthorized persons are some of the grounds for launching complaints
Just like in the case of other services, postal services too involve lapses in services such as late delivery, non-delivery, or wrong deliveries, or damage of items in the package. The consumers have the right to bring such lapses to the notice of the postal department. Some of the grounds for complaints which are common across the different categories of mail services are-
- Delay in delivery
- Delivery to unauthorized or disputed persons
- Loss of articles
- Non-delivery of articles
- Non receipt of article
Multiple platforms available for complaint registration
The department has multiple platforms available for complaint registration with respect to postal services including mail, e-commerce, financial, and insurance services. The complaint has to be lodged within 60 days of transaction/ availing service.
A person can register their complaint in the concerned Post Office and receive an acknowledgement of the same. This can be done by hand or by post. If the issue does not get resolved within a reasonable time period, they can approach the higher authorities such as the Chief Postmaster General of the respective Circle, and then the Officers in the Postal Directorate in New Delhi. All Postal Circles have nominated Public Grievance Nodal Officers to monitor the grievances. Time allocated for redressal of complaints is 60 days which extends to 90 days if investigation is required.
Online portal for complaint registration is also available
One can also lodge complaint online on the ‘India Post’ website by filling the relevant form with all the details. An acknowledgement will be received instantly for online registration.
One can also raise issues in the social media handles of India Post
Furthermore, Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPGRAMS), India Post Call Centre (IPCC), and Social Media (Twitter & Facebook) platform are also available for citizens to report grievances. Toll free number to connect to IPCC is 1800 266 6868. The postal department also runs special grievance redress drives to resolve pending grievances. Dak Adalats are held at Divisional, Regional and Circle levels for resolving the grievances of the citizens including those in remote areas.
About 24 lakh complaints regarding postal services are filed every year
For the last four years, an average of 24 lakh complaints pertaining to postal services were registered with the postal department. As on 21 November 2019, all the cases from the past three years and 95% of the cases from 2019-20 were resolved.
21.69 lakh complaints of delay in delivery and non-delivery of registered posts, speed posts, and articles registered in the last 3 years
Data regarding the number of complaints received separately for non-delivery and late delivery of registered letters, parcels, and articles, received from different post offices in the country during each of the last three years was shared in the parliament recently. Altogether, a total of 21.69 lakh complaints were registered across these six categories in three years. 96% of these complaints were about delayed services. About 55% of the complaints were pertaining to the delivery of articles. The overall trend shows that the number of complaints regarding delayed delivery went up from around 5.6 lakh cases in 2017-18 to more than 10.3 lakh cases in 2018-19 which dropped to 4.85 lakh cases in 2019-20. During the same period, complaints about non-delivery had dropped from nearly 36,000 to about 13,000. As per the government data, all these complaints received during each of the last three years have been resolved.
Majority of the complaints are from Maharashtra
State-wise data of complaints reveals that Maharashtra accounts for more than 13% of all the complaints registered (2.9 lakh cases) with respect to delivery of mail services in the last three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20. Haryana accounts for nearly 12% of the complaints (2.5 lakh) followed by West Bengal (1.8 lakh complaints) and UP (1.7 lakh complaints). West Bengal & UP accounted for 8% of the complaints each.
The number of complaints received with respect to non-delivery of mail has dropped significantly in the last three years in the major states of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttarakhand. Madhya Pradesh has reported an increase in complaints of non-delivery of mail by more than three times during the same period. Similarly, with respect to delayed delivery, the larger states of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, and Punjab have reported a reduction in the number of complaints while the rest have reported more complaints in 2019-20 as compared to 2017-18.
‘No unquestionable immunity’ available to the Postal Department for lapses in service
The functioning of post offices is governed by the Indian Post Office Act, 1898 and Indian Post Office Rules, 1933. Under the Indian Post Office Act, 1898, the Central Government or its postal officers are exempted from any liability for loss, delay, or damage to any postal article in course of transmission by post, unless and until it has been caused fraudulently by the officer concerned or by his wilful act or by default. However, in cases where there has not been any fraudulent act or negligence, the postal department must prove the same. In other words, it must provide the reasons behind the mis-delivery or delay.
In a recent January 2020 order in Manimajra Vs Ripan Kumar (RP NO 2508 of 2016) , the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission held that Section 6 does not provide unquestionable immunity to the postal department and that the onus of establishing that the protection of Section 6 can be taken in a particular case was on the postal department.
CAG report highlights efficiency and reliability on India Posts’ speed post services
According to a CAG report released in 2015, which studied the speed post service in 8 postal circles- Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, UP, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh, the private couriers delivered only 90% of letters compared to 99% by Speed Post. Furthermore, in major cities, the performance of speed post was found to be faster and more reliable. The postal service delivered 99% of letters through speed post within the stipulated time as compared to 92% by private courier services. It was concluded that the speed post service of the department of posts was better than the services being provided by the private courier agencies. The data on the complaints & their redressal also shows that that reliability of Indian Postal service has improved.
Featured Image: Complaints on India Post