The State Consumer Commission has come down heavily on MTNL for its "indifferent and mechanical approach" towards the grievances of consumers and directed it to withdraw exorbitant telephone bills against a person.
"Instead of taking action against its own officials the appellant authority (MTNL) has inflicted a heavy blow on a poor consumer," Justice JD Kapoor, president of the Commission, said, referring to the sudden increase in the telephone bills of one Rajiv, a resident of Vasant Kunj in New Delhi.
Dismissing MTNL's appeal against a district consumer forum's order to withdraw the two bills, the Commission said, "A poor consumer who for last two years has not made more than 200-400 calls and suddenly to expect him to have made 29,000-34,000 calls is mind-boggling."
It expressed unhappiness over the fact that MTNL had failed to properly inquire into the the huge bills of Rs 41,132 and Rs 29,877 against him.
"Had such an inquiry been made, it would have unearthed the actual fact that the telephone numbers, where STD calls were made, were not at all connected with the respondent but of some unauthorised persons", it said.
It further added that the authorities should have inquired as to whether the respondents had any connection with the telephone numbers where STD calls were made.
The district forum had earlier in its order in March 2003 directed MTNL to withdraw the two bills slapped upon Rajiv and had also ordered a compensation of Rs 6,000 to be paid to him.