I am basically a law abiding citizen. I clear my bills well in time, keep my transactions clear and transparent and file my tax returns faithfully. I don’t remember having done any financial discrepancy while dealing with any one. Other day, suddenly I get a call from one lady who claimed to be an Information Officer at Tees Hazari court at Delhi, India. She claimed that some one had filed a Civil case against me pertaining to fraud and financial irregularities and in case it was not sorted out with an advocate on that very day, my case file would be put up to the legal authorities. When I asked her as to what was the case, she declined to divulge the details and instead gave me a number supposed to be of a particular lawyer dealing with the case. I informed her that who could file a case against me as I have always kept my dealings meticulous with all and being a retired Defense Officer I hardly had any financial dealings with any business entity. She did not answer and said that I should get in touch with this advocate she had referred to.
I was worried and had anxiety as to what the matter could be. So I rang up the number of the so called advocate. The advocate answered my call and informed me that, he was appointed by a Telephone company who has filed a case of non payment of a mobile bill against me. Now I remembered that I had recently surrendered a landline telephone on shifting to my new residence and had made sure to return the complete equipment and cleared the total outstanding bill the receipt for which I had. So I conveyed to this person the complete details and told him that there must be some mistake. I had even informed the customer care of this company that this particular telephone had been surrendered and no bill should be sent to me as all dues had been cleared and I was moving out from that place. It was revealed that the telephone was reconnected by a representative of the company after 10 days of my surrendering it without my knowledge and a bill generated at the end of the month. Since I had shifted out of my previous residence, I never received the bill which would have been mailed on the last address. I told the Advocate that this was not fair and why someone from the phone company did not give me a ring on my mobile to check it out and clear the issue. Advocate told me that I was welcome to contest the case and give my point of view to the Honorable Judge in the Court. Since this Court is in another city, I would have to travel and present my self on the hearing date and such dates keep getting postponed, I shuddered at the consequences of the entire affair which would involve wastage of time and money. So I asked the Advocate as to what was the way out, he suggested that since the bill amount is very small (Rs 600 ), I could go to the nearest office of the phone company and deposit it in next one hour and confirm it to him on the phone. He would then stop the case file from further proceedings. I called my driver and set off to visit the phone office at Zirakpur. I even skipped my breakfast and completed the task of payment. I then informed this Advocate and gave him the receipt number vide which I had deposited the amount. He confirmed that the legal case would be stopped as the payment has been settled. I was relieved.
After I reached my home, I decided to check for such cases on the net. My search brought out some interesting results and cases of other persons who had similar experience. I learnt that there is no Advocate or the Information officer at the Court who call people and threaten to proceed with the case, but these are the Phone Recovery agents who are local and pose as the court people. They thrive on the fear created by them and there are always some law abiding simple persons who get into panic and clear the bills even though the phone company may be at fault. I then rang up on the earlier numbers and found that these mobile phones had been switched off. My son in law works as a VP in another phone company and I rang him up apprising him of the entire episode. He laughed and told me that I had been duped by the recovery agents of this phone company who pose as Court people. He advised me to proceed legally against this company. I should have done that but considering the hassles, costs and inconvenience involved I gave up the idea. In any case I had learnt a very valuable lesson not to take any call at its face value and check it out before taking any action. The cost of learning this lesson was not much just about Indian Rs 600 ( equivalent to 9 USD).
When I think of this incident now, I laugh at myself; a retired two star General who had seen many life threatening situations in combat in 38 years of service and had kept his cool had got panicked at the mention of a Civil case, a drama orchestrated by two recovery agents who are nothing but small time crooks. After all they do not teach you to deal with crooks in Military life!