NCDRC | Reconsideration of a case by District Forum, though warranted, must not be directed if it results in miscarriage of justice to complainant 

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Coram of Justice R.K. Agrawal (President) and Dinesh Singh (Member), disposed of a case centered around a car and its defects. and due to its longevity, the car was not so feasible, at this stage in time, to remand back to the District Forum for decision afresh on the (principal) question of ‘defect’ in manufacture as 14 years has passed since it was first brought in the District Forum and now it cannot be put to test before an ‘appropriate laboratory’, to determine that ‘defect’ as laid down in the provisions of the ‘The Consumer Protection Act, 1986’.

In this case, the appellant had filed a case in the District Forum, Yamunanagar in 2005, for manufacturing defects in a car. The District Forum allowed the complaint and also issued directions to replace the car or refund the amount of the car with interest to the aggrieved party, When the appeal went on to the State Commission it allowed the petition and ordered the company to remove the defects “if any”. 

The NCDRC with regard to the decision said that the District Forum should have first decided if the purchaser i.e. the Revisionist Petitioner was a “complainant” in terms of Section 2(1)(d) of ‘The Consumer Protection Act, 1986’ or not. Also, the National Commission made a remark that the District Forum should have referred the goods to the appropriate laboratory under Section 2 (1) (a) of the Act for the determination of defects.

The National Commission in its judgment remarking about the State Commission said that though it rightly concluded that ‘defect’ in manufacture cannot be made out now, but it erred in not remanding the case back to the District Forum for decision afresh, to decide the question of ‘defect’ in manufacture after duly adopting the procedure prescribed in Sections 13(1)(c) to (g) of the Act and also it termed the order of the State Commission as “unreasoned”, “suffering from incongruity” and “inner-inconsistency”.

The National Commission remarked that the correct thing would have been to direct the case back to the District Forum for fresh consideration. However, given that the case had already taken 14 years, it held that doing the same would be “inequitable and result in some miscarriage of justice” to the Petitioner. 

The Tribunal also noted that the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act speaks of “speedy and simple redressal to consumer disputes” and also the Act is for “better protection of the interests of consumers so a Complainant cannot be put to prejudice for faults in adjudication by Consumer Protection Fora. 

However, having said that they also noted, that on presenting its Complaint alleging “manufacturing defects” and no steps were taken by the Complainant for adopting the procedure that is prescribed in Sections 13(1)(c) to (g) before the District Forum. The Commission concluded by saying that it should not be attended as a precedent. [Gopal Aggarwal v. Metro Motors, Revision Petition No. 1854 of 2011, decided on 17-12-2019]

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