Permission granted to devotees by religious organizations, in lieu of money, does not amount to “services” under Consumer Protection Act

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Single Judge Bench of V.K. Jain, J., allowed a revision petition filed against the order of the State Commission, whereby the petitioner was directed to reconstruct the tomb in the cemetery of the Cathedral at their own expenses and also pay a sum of Rs.25,000/- as compensation to the complainant.

The complainant/respondent had paid Rs. 1001/- to the opposite party/petitioner for granting permission to construct a family tomb in the cemetery of the said Cathedral. The permission was granted and the family tomb was constructed but later on, it was demolished by the petitioner and hence the respondent approached the appropriate fora claiming deficiency in services on the part of petitioner.

The main issue that arose before the Commission was whether the respondent would fall under the definition of consumer and whether the respondent can be said to have hired or availed the services of the Cathedral or its Trustees.

The Commission observed that as per the definition of the consumer under Section 2(1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Act (COPRA), a consumer is a person who either purchases goods or avails service for a consideration. The Commission then referred to the definition of service as given under Section 2(1)(o) of the COPRA.

The Commission held that from a perusal of Section 2(1)(o) of the COPRA, it becomes clear that granting permission in for construction of a family tomb in lieu of a certain sum of money does not amount to rendering services under the COPRA. At best it can be seen as permission granted to one of the devotees by a religious organization. Further, the Commission also held that a person who is granted such a permission would not fall under the ambit of consumer for the purpose of Section 2(1)(d) of the COPRA. Resultantly, the review petition was allowed and the order of State Commission was set aside. [Jacobite Syrian Cathedral v. Jippu Varkey, Revision Petition No. 2695-2696 of 2018, order dated 25-10-2018]

3 comments

  • Dear author of the article,
    The National Commission is not a “Court” and hence the presiding member is not a “Judge”. Hence please be careful in using the words and phrases.

    • From the Website of the NCDRC:

      The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), India is a quasi-judicial commission in India which was set up in 1988 under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. Its head office is in New Delhi. The commission is headed by a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. The commission is presently headed by Justice R K Agrawal, former judge of the Supreme Court of India.

      Therefore a Judge whether sitting or retired will always be referred to as Justice ‘A’ and when delivering a judgment as ‘A’, J.

    • BEFORE:
      HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE V.K. JAIN,PRESIDING MEMBER
      For the Petitioner : Ms. Usha Nandini V. Advocate
      For the Respondent : In person (Caveator)
      Dated : 25 Oct 2018

      ORDER
      JUSTICE V.K. JAIN, PRESIDING MEMBER (ORAL)
      IA/17556/2018 (for C/D)

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