New Delhi: Apex consumer panel NCDRC has castigated Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for using LPG cylinders beyond expiry date and asked the state-run oil firm to pay a compensation of Rs 2.25 lakh to a victim of cylinder blast.
The victim, Shimla-resident Ramesh Thakur, had complained to National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) that in December 2008, a cylinder had burst at his residence which injured his wife and "badly damaged" the rooms adjoining the kitchen.
"The accident took place because of the cylinder being old and worn out and supply of LPG in such kind of cylinder cannot be said to be an act of negligence or omission on the part of distributor but constitutes an act of negligence on the part of IOC itself," the NCDRC said in its order, as it directed IOC to pay Rs 2.25 lakh as compensation to Thakur.
Noting that fitness of the cylinder expired in 2004, the NCDRC, presided over by Justice J M Malik, said "the petitioner, IOC, continued dealing with it even after four years from the date of its expiry. ... This fact clearly goes to show that the petitioner is terrible remiss in discharge of their duty."
In its order, the apex commission said the IOC had manufactured the cylinder in 1994, which was certified to be fit for use for 10 years after its manufacture.
Observing that gas cylinders were a "dangerous commodity", it said "the authorities dealing with these, should deal with it properly and as per the rules and regulations prepared by government. If there is any violation of rules, it can cause big havoc".
The NCDRC made the observations while dismissing a revision petition filed by IOC, directing it to pay the cost of Rs 25,000, apart from the compensation amount.
IOC had approached the NCDRC after the state commission had directed it to pay the amount, jointly with the gas agency and an insurance company. But the state panel had made the gas agency entitled to recover the amount from IOC.
The apex consumer commission upheld the state commission's order but held that the insurance firm cannot be saddled with any liability as it had not been given any intimation about the incident, leaving IOC, the manufacturer of the cylinder, as the only compensation payer.
On the complaint of Thakur, a district consumer forum had earlier asked the insurance company and gas agency to pay a compensation of Rs 4.55 lakh to him.
Thakur had then asked the gas agency to pay compensation for the loss but after his demands were not met, he filed a complaint with the forum seeking Rs Rs 2.5 lakh compensation.
The gas agency and insurance company had contested the claim before the forum and denied him the compensation.