Sixteen years of loss and no gain
nce in a while, in the inside pages of a daily newspaper, you end up reading a small news piece, mostly used by editors as fillers, on ‘house catching fire due to cooking-gas leakage’. Such news subtly reminds you of a few safety measures that you generally forget about while handling inflammables.
At the same time, such news mostly misses out on a significant piece of fact – that if you cannot prove the ‘leakage’, then neither will the gas company compensate you, nor will you be able to claim any compensation from the insurance company against the damages caused due to fire. Unfortunately, recent developments suggest that even consumer forums cannot come to your rescue in such cases.
Sushila Devi is one of the many thousand subscribers of Hindustan Petroleum (HP) and has been taking her regular supply from the company’s authorised agency, NK Cooking, in Patna, Bihar. According to her, as part of her routine, in March 2000 she got her supply of subsidised gas at Rs 158.40. As always, she fitted the same herself and lit it sometime later. However, instead of lighting like usual, the gas caught fire, the kitchen went up in flames, and the fire burnt Devi’s sari and gave her painful burns.
Assuming that the suppliers of the faulty, probably leaking cylinder were responsible, Devi sued the agency. Sixteen years later, before the highest authority of consumer rights, she lost her case and was