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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]