Availability of alternative remedies will not bar a consumer complaint

Chhattisgarh High Court: While relying upon the Supreme Court decisions in Fair Air Engineers (P) Ltd. v. N. K. Modi, (1996) 6 SCC 385 and National Seeds Corporation Limited v. M. Madhusudhan Reddy, (2012) 2 SCC 506, the Single Bench of Sanjay K. Agrawal, J. held that the availability of alternative remedies under the other statutory law would not bar the consumer to avail the remedy available under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The petitioner had raised a consumer dispute before the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Korba stating that his mobile balance had been deducted for usage of data services even though he had subscribed to a data pack. The District Forum ordered that the complaint was barred because a special remedy of arbitration under Section 7-B of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 was available to the complainant, which was also affirmed by State Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Raipur. The High Court observed that Section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act provides that the provision of the Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provision of any other law for the time being in force, and therefore, the consumer dispute raised by the Petitioner before the District Forum was maintainable. Consequently, the orders of the District Forum as well as the State Commission were set aside, and the District Forum, Korba was directed to entertain and consider the petitioner’s claim on its own merits. [Rajesh Kumar Agrawal v. Tulsi Electronic, 2016 SCC OnLine Chh 1617, decided on December 09, 2016]

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