Mumbai: Consumer commission directs tour operator to refund booking amount with interest over visa rejection

Mumbai: Consumer commission directs tour operator to refund booking amount with interest over visa rejection

Commission directs refund of booking amount forfeited on account of visa rejection, says tour operator should have scrutinised it 

Ashutosh M ShuklaUpdated: Sunday, April 09, 2023, 05:32 PM IST
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Mumbai: A district consumer commission in an order has directed Gems Tours and Travels to refund booking amount of ₹2.5 lakh to a tourist with six percent interest. The tourist could not go on a package after his visa was rejected that the opposite parties stated were fake but as per the report it was found that the reason for stay was not provided properly by the tour operator. 

The commission stated that the tour operator should know the terms under which visa gets rejected while directing additional compensation of ₹35,000 to be paid towards mental agony and litigation cost suffered by the complainant.

The order dated January 6 (uploaded April 4) was passed by S. S. Mhatre and M. P. Kasar, members of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Central Mumbai on a complaint by Malad resident, Arpan Shah, against Gems Tours and Travels, Jyotin Doshi (chairman), Rajesh Jain (employee) and Virag Shah (Sales and Marketing Executive). The order was only against Gem and Jyotin and rejected against the remaining two.

Know what exactly happened?

Shah had taken a tour package from Gem worth ₹4.67 lakhs that involved a trip to Amsterdam, Paris and to Switzerland. The trip for 13 nights and 14 days was scheduled between September 21, 2018, to October 4, 2018, with accommodation, transportation, hotel etc., all paid for. For this, he made a payment of Rs 2.50 lakhs in two instalments, including in cash. Shah also submitted documents as sought for visa processing. Around this time, officials from Gems told him that visa clearance and airline bookings were not in their hands.

Visa gets cancelled

He was later informed that his visa was cancelled by visa authorities because his documents submitted with visa applications were not proper. Opposite parties had stated that some of the documents submitted were dummy and fake at the time of booking the tour which led to the rejection of the visa. His booking amount of Rs 2.50 lakhs was then forfeited. When Shah asked for it, it was not provided, so he filed a complaint.

Tour operator had submitted a dummy booking

When Shah received the visa rejection application from the visa office, the basis under which his visa application was rejected was stated as ‘justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not provided. Shah stated that opposite parties had made a dummy booking and submitted the same to the visa department. He alleged deficiency in services by cheating and misrepresenting.

During the hearing, the commission observed that "the opposite party should know the fact under which circumstances usually visa is rejected by the concern authority. So it was necessary on part of opposite party that, they should have scrutinized the documents filed by the complainant prior to submit it at visa centre." It further stated that "In present case visa has not been rejected due shortage in the documents submitted by the complainant but due to negligence on part of opposite party and not provide details about intended stay."

Terming its a deficiency in service on part of Gem, it directed refund and compensation to be paid within 30 days of the order.

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