High Court of Calcutta: In a recent judgment, Single Judge Bench of Debangsu Basak, J. decided upon the constitutional status of Section 13(3) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Section 13(3) of the Act states that, “No proceedings complying with the procedure laid down in sub-sections (1) and (2) shall be called in question in any court on the ground that the principles of natural justice have not been complied with.” The petitioner submitted to the Court that by taking away matters of principles of natural justice in proceedings under the Act 0f 1986 outside the court’s jurisdiction, the sub-section is ultra vires the Constitution.

While defending the Central Act, the Additional Solicitor General relied upon the Supreme Court judgment in State of Karnataka v. Vishwabhuthi House Building Co-operative Society, 2003 2 SCC 412, which upheld the vires of the Act. He further explained, with reference to Section 13(3) of the Act, the section sets a requisite for the forum constituted under the Act to adhere to principles of natural justice, rather than completely excluding the application of the principles as alleged by the petitioner. He further pleaded to the Court that it must observe its duty to uphold the authority of the Central Act, and in his final submission stated that it was within the jurisdiction of the legislature to limit the applicability of the principles of natural justice.

The Court observed that time and again, courts have assumed responsibility when the any order passed by the fora were in breach of principles of natural justice, in both procedural and substantial matters. In its final order pertaining to this issue, the Court relied upon a number of Supreme Court judgments and the fact that the forum is not immune to judicial scrutiny to declare that the section in question could not be unconstitutional. [Vodafone Mobile Services Ltd. v. The State of West Bengal, 2017 SCC OnLine Cal 5070, decided on 16-05-2017]

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