Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Division Member Bench of S.M. Kantikar (Presiding Member) and  Dinesh Singh (Member), dismissed a revision petition filed against the order of Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, whereby the order of the district forum was affirmed.

The main issue that arose before the Commission was whether the instant dispute required interference by the National Commission under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act (COPRA).

The Commission observed that the respondent  1 had entered into an agreement with the appellant wherein the appellant had promised for providing various amenities like Club House, Internal roads, installation of fire fighting system and arrangement of sewerage and garbage etc. Further, the maintenance charge was to be calculated by taking the area as 1830 sq. ft, however, the appellant charged excess amount of maintenance charges from the respondent 1. Also, the amenities promised by the appellant were not provided to the respondent 1. The Commission rejected the contention of the petitioner that the respondent 1 did not fall under the category of “consumer” as per the provisions of COPRA. In the decision of Rubi (Chandra) Dutta v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., (2011) 11 SCC 269, wherein it was held that the National Commission while deciding a matter under Section 21 of the Act, should not interfere with the concurrent finding of fact recorded in the judgment impugned before it.

The Commission held that there is a drastic increase in the number of problems from the construction industry where consumers are fooled by builders or developers. The petitioner failed to provide evidence such as the Commissioner’s Report, Engineer’s report etc. to prove that the amenities as per the agreement were provided to the respondent 1 and it had also failed to justify the excessive money which was charged by it from the respondent 1 in the form of maintenance charges. Finally, the Commission held that to exercise the revisional jurisdiction under Section 21(b) of the COPRA it must show that there was a jurisdictional error or a legal principle was ignored or miscarriage of justice. The petition was dismissed and the order of state commission was upheld.[Make Wave Sea Resort (P) Ltd. v. L.R. Chowdhary,2018 SCC OnLine NCDRC 389, order dated 13-11-2018]

 

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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]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Division Bench of Dr S.M. Kantikar and Dinesh Singh, Members, dismissed a revision petition filed against the order of the State Commission.

The petitioners, in this case, had purchased a car in the name of their company Harmony Colonizers (P) Ltd. from respondent and it suddenly stopped one day after 4 years of its purchase. Thereafter, respondent charged a sum of Rs 3,95,190 as repair charges, which were paid by the petitioner under protest. The petitioner then filed a complaint before the District Forum, claiming deficiency of services on the part of respondent and the same was allowed. The State Commission reversed the order of the district forum on the ground that complainants do not fit into the definition of consumer for the purpose of Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The main issue that arose for consideration was whether the petitioners fall under the definition of consumer for the purpose of Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The Commission observed that as stated by the State Commission, the petitioner failed to provide cogent evidence to prove that the car was purchased for their personal use. It further observed that in order to interfere with State Commission’s order there must be a jurisdictional error, or grave error in appreciating the evidence, or ignorance of a legal or miscarriage of justice. None of the elements were present in the instant case.

The Commission held that the petitioners were not consumers under the Act and were attempting to misuse the statutory processes provided for better protection of the interest of consumers to obtain wrong gains and to create ‘nuisance value’ qua the respondents. It was further held that the petition filed was frivolous and vexatious and hence it was dismissed with costs of Rs 25,000 imposed on petitioners for filing a frivolous petition.[Suresh Singla v. Jaycee Automobiles (P) Ltd.,2018 SCC OnLine NCDRC 375, order dated 23-08-2018]

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National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): The perusal of the ‘Green’ guidelines for Haj-2008 in its clause 18 gave clarity on “Haj Committee of India not being in the purview of Consumer Protection Act 1986, which is not liable to compensate any pilgrims intending to go on ‘Haj’ pilgrimage.” The Bench comprising of V.K. Jain, J. (Presiding Member), dismissed the complaint on the above-stated basis.

The complainants were pilgrims intending to go for Haj pilgrimage and had applied accordingly. The procedure for the pilgrims to be chosen was done on the basis of draw of lots in which the complainants’ name appeared in a reserved quota and for that, they had paid an amount of Rs. 96,940/- which was the focal point of the complaint as the aggrieved had asked for the refund of the excess amount on not being accommodated in the ‘Green’ category and instead being placed in the ‘Azizia’ category but paying an amount equivalent to the same.

Therefore, the Commission on noting that the State Commission had allowed an appeal in favour of the complainants and the petitioner had filed a revision petition there against, concluded that the Haj Committee rendered its services without any profit motive and the pilgrims intending to go for the Haj pilgrimage, on their own, sign the declaration stating that they would not ask for any claims from the Haj Committee of India as it is not covered under Section 2(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act 1986 and thereby the consumer forum held no jurisdiction in the said case, which lead the NCDRC to set aside the impugned order and dismiss the complaint. [Haj Committee of India v. Abbas Ali,2018 SCC OnLine NCDRC 242, dated 04-06-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Madan B. Lokur and P.C. Pant, JJ held that a Trust cannot file a complaint under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 as a Trust is not a person and therefore not a consumer.

The bench took note of the various definition provisions under the Act to come to the conclusion that a Trust does not fall under the category of a ‘complainant’ as defined under Section 2(b) of the Act. The Court also considered the definition of ‘consumer’ under Section 2(d) of the Act which included the word ‘person’. The Court said that ‘person’ as per Section 2(m) of the Act includes a firm whether registered or not; a Hindu undivided family; a co-operative society; every other association of persons. However, it does not include ‘Trust’.

Hence, the Court held that based on a plain and simple reading of the provisions, a Trust cannot be a complainant and cannot file a consumer dispute under the provisions of the Act. [Pratibha Pratisthan v. Manager, Canara Bank, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 202, decided on 07.03.2017]