Monday, July 28, 2014

CAVEAT VENDOR : Taken for a ride by an immigration service

BL 28 July 2014

 With passports confiscated by an immigration agency, the Pandeys were rescued by the Indian High Commission
Feel defrauded or shortchanged by one of those ubiquitous immigration agencies that have sprung up everywhere? If yes, don’t just fret and fume. Consider approaching a consumer court. Here’s a recent case where Reena and Rahul Pandey received compensation.
Starting from the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Chandigarh, which passed an order in October 2013, the case went up to the State Commission and thereafter the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission which ruled on the matter in April 2014.
Facts of the case
Reena and her husband Rahul Pandey approached Ganga Immigration & Education Services (Ganga Immigration) for getting a Malaysian work permit.
They were also assured of a job with a salary of 1,200-1,500 Malaysian ringgit, and were asked to pay ₹1.5 lakh each. This amount included the cost of a two-year permit along with food, accommodation, insurance and air fare.
The two also entered into an agreement (October 18, 2012) according to which they would be refunded the processing fee if the work provided was not to their satisfaction.
When Rahul and Reena went to make the payment, they were told they would have to go on a tourist visa which would later be converted into a work visa.
So, they paid ₹90,000 — together — with the rest to be given when their visas were converted. This was in addition to an earlier payment of ₹50,000.
Once they reached Malaysia, they were asked to pay for their accommodation by the Ganga International employee who was accompanying them on the trip.
Not only that, they were also asked to share a room with two other men. The next day, they were put on a night shift with a courier company with jobs far different from what was promised. Their troubles did not end there. Once they let known their intention of returning to India, they were asked to vacate the room at night.
Thereafter, they had to make their own arrangements for food and stay. The agent who had earlier taken their passports (to get work permits) refused to return them.
Left with no choice, the Pandeys approached the Indian High Commission which issued them an emergency certificate for their return to India.
Once back home, they approached the District Forum in Chandigarh.
Court to the rescue
The Court held that Ganga Immigration had made false promises to the Pandeys as a result of which they had lost their jobs in India and were also forced to sell a few of their assets to arrange for money to go abroad. It also found the agreement entered into between the two parties to be very vaguely worded.
Finding Ganga International guilty of deficiency in service and unfair trade practice, the Court ordered it to pay ₹1,80,000 — the money paid to it by the Pandeys plus what was spent by them in Malaysia. It also ordered ₹61,000 to be paid for the mental agony caused and litigation expenses.
Ganga International then appealed against the decision with the State Commission, which dismissed the appeal and upheld the order of the District Forum.
Undeterred, the company then approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission which dismissed the petition too.
It both upheld the decisions of the earlier two forums and ordered Ganga International to pay an additional ₹100,000. Of this, ₹25,000 each was to go to Reena and Rahul and the rest to the Consumer Legal Aid Account of the National Commission

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