Legislation UpdatesNotifications

The United States of America (USA) has w.e.f. 5 June 2019 withdrawn India’s GSP benefits. These are unilateral, non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory benefits extended by some developed countries to developing countries. India as part of our bilateral trade discussions, had offered resolution on significant US requests in an effort to find a mutually acceptable way forward.

[Source: PIB]

Ministry of Commerce & Industry

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Division Member Bench of Anup K Thakur, C. Viswanath, Members, dismissed a complaint filed against the opposite party for claiming compensation for alleged deficiency of services.

The main issue that arose before the Commission was whether the opposite party was liable for deficiency of services under the provisions of Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The Commission observed that the complainant had intimated the opposite party about the breakdown of its machinery a month after it actually broke down. Further, the complainant was regularly communicating with the opposite party but even then it did not provide any information to the opposite party via email or telegram about the break down of machinery and this omission on the part of the complainant was a violation of one of the provisions of the insurance policy. The Commission also observed that soon after taking Machinery Breakdown and Machinery Loss of Profits Policies, the machinery of the complainant broke down. Complainant’s omission to disclose that the machinery was giving trouble prior to the complainant taking insurance policy, is an active concealment on its part. Further, the complainant had dismantled the machinery before it was examined by the surveyor and it also made an excuse about the logbooks gone missing.

The Commission held that the composite result of all the actions on the part of the complainant clearly suggests that the complainant had deliberately concealed some vital facts from the opposite party and hence it cannot be allowed to derive benefits of an insurance policy obtained by concealment of such important facts. Resultantly, the complaint was dismissed by the commission holding the opposite party not liable for deficiency of services under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. [Amrit Environmental Technologies (P) Ltd. v. Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Co. Ltd.,2018 SCC OnLine NCDRC 381, order dated 09-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Bench comprising of P.R. Ramachandra Menon and Dama Seshadri Naidu, JJ. disposed of an appeal filed by an employee against his employer, by holding that he cannot claim the benefits of an Ex Gratia Scheme introduced by the employer, without complying with the conditions incorporated under the Scheme.

The respondent introduced an Ex Gratia scheme for its ex-employees. To avail the benefits of the scheme, an employee had to give an undertaking that he has no litigation pending against the corporation. Since, the appellant had a dispute pending against the corporation, it precluded him from being enrolled under the scheme. Consequently, he filed a Writ Petition, challenging the said condition as arbitrary and discriminatory, affecting his constitutional right to approach a court. The Single Judge held that the scheme is non-statutory, therefore, if an employee wants to avail its benefits, he must accept it in its entirety. He further held that the employee will be entitled to the benefits of the scheme, since the day it was introduced, once he files the requisite undertaking. This decision was challenged by both the employer (on the ground that the employee can’t get the benefits retrospectively, but only from the date of filing of the undertaking) and the employee (on the ground that it did not allow him to have the benefit without reference to the earlier dispute).

The Court while noting the importance of “access to justice”, stated that there will be no remedy if the right claimed has no legal recognition. Since the Corporation has no statutory or contractual obligation to the employee and the scheme introduced by it was merely ex gratis, it lacks enforceability. Thus, it can be couched in conditions. Therefore, the holding of the Single Judge that, the scheme contradicts no provision of law, is unassailable. In view of the same, the employee is only entitled to the benefits of the scheme after the date of the decision of the earlier litigation, and not retrospectively, from the date of introduction of the scheme. [V.G.K. Naidu v. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, 2017 SCC OnLine Ker 2588, decided on 11.04.2017]