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Thursday, December 10, 2015


Three Judges Bench of Supreme Court, answering a reference to it in New India Assurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage Pvt. Ltd., has reiterated that the District Consumer Forum can grant a further period of 15 days (after the expiry of initial 30 days) to the opposite party for filing his version or reply and not beyond that.

The issue is within which time the opponent has to give his version to the District Forum in pursuance of a complaint filed by the complainant to the consumer forum under the provisions of section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act.

13. Procedure on admission of complaint – (1) ...............
(2) The District Forum shall, if the complaints admitted by it under Section 12 relates to goods in respect of which the procedure specified in sub-section (1) cannot be followed, or if the complaint relates to any services, –
(a) refer a copy of such complaint to the opposite party directing him to give his version of the case within a period of thirty days or such extended period not exceeding fifteen days as may be granted by the District Forum;
(b) ---------------

 In this case, a three judge bench of Apex Court had held “there is legislative mandate to the District Forum or the Commissions to dispose of the complaints as far as possible within prescribed time of three months by adhering strictly to the procedure prescribed under the Act. The opposite party has to submit its version within 30 days from the date of the receipt of the complaint by him and Commission can give at the most further 15 days for some unavoidable reasons to file its version.”

 In this case, another Three judges bench, held that limit of 90 days, as prescribed by the proviso to Rule 1 of Order 8 of the Civil Procedure Code, is not mandatory,but directory in nature, and further time for filing reply can be granted, if the circumstances are such that require grant of further time for filing the reply. In this case, Dr JJ Merchant case was also discussed and it was held that the observations made in that case, to the extent it deal with the Rule 1 of Order 8 of CPC was obiter.

The Apex court said that since the issue discussed in Dr J.J. Merchant case is identical to the issue in the present case, it holds the field and not the latter view in Kailash case, since it deals with CPC provisions.

Also the law laid down in the Dr. J.J. Merchant case was decided on 2002, which is earlier in time and will prevail, but even a Bench of coordinate strength of this Court, which had decided the case of Kailash (decided on 2005) was bound by the view taken by a three-Judge Bench in the case of Dr. J.J. Merchant. As per the law laid down the subsequent Court ought to have respected the view expressed by the earlier Court. The established legal positions which are summarized below cannot be ignored:

(1) The law laid down by this Court in a decision delivered by a Bench of larger strength is binding on any subsequent Bench of lesser or co-equal strength.

(2) A Bench of lesser quorum cannot disagree or dissent from the view of the law taken by a Bench of larger quorum. In case of doubt all that the Bench of lesser quorum can do is to invite the attention of the Chief Justice and request for the matter being placed for hearing before a Bench of larger quorum than the Bench whose decision has come up for consideration. It will be open only for a Bench of coequal strength to express an opinion doubting the correctness of the view taken by the earlier Bench of coequal strength, whereupon the matter may be placed for hearing before a Bench consisting of a quorum larger than the one which pronounced the decision laying down the law the correctness of which is doubted.

(3) The above rules are subject to two exceptions: (i) The above said rules do not bind the discretion of the Chief Justice in whom vests the power of framing the roster and who can direct any particular matter to be placed for hearing before any particular Bench of any strength; and

(ii) In spite of the rules laid down hereinabove, if the matter has already come up for hearing before a Bench of larger quorum and that Bench itself feels that the view of the law taken by a Bench of lesser quorum, which view is in doubt, needs correction or reconsideration then by way of exception (and not as a rule) and for reasons given by it, it may proceed to hear the case and examine the correctness of the previous decision in question dispensing with the need of a specific reference or the order of Chief Justice constituting the Bench and such listing.

Prepared by: S. Hemanth

Thursday, November 19, 2015


The complainant a private limited company availing services of bank for business purposes, its complaint is not maintainable before the Consumer Forum. The company is a body corporate and not a natural person who needs to earn his livelihood.

M/s Recorders and Medicare Systems Pvt. Ltd. through its Director and authorized signatory, Shri Jalesh Grover, has filed complaint before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, under section 21 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 against the State Bank of Patiala, claiming deficiency on the part of the respondent/opposite party bank on account of its failure to renew the insurance policy which it had been doing in its capacity as Monitoring Institution of the complainant Company and for which it had charged fees as consideration for its services.

Since the services of the respondent Bank have been availed of by the complainant for business/commercial purposes, its complaint is not maintainable before the consumer Fora under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 in view of the provisions of section 2 (1) (d). Although the explanation appended to section 2 (1) (d) of the Act provides that the "commercial purpose" does not include the services availed by the person exclusively for the purpose of earning his livelihood by means of self-employment. However, the explanation restricting the scope of the commercial purpose is of no avail to the complainant because complainant is a body corporate and not a natural person who needs to indulge to earn his livelihood. In view of this, we are of considered view that the complainant is not covered under the definition of consumer as defined under section 2 (1) (d) (ii) of the Act and as such the complaint is not maintainable before the consumer Forum.

The above was held by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in M/s. Recorders and Medicare System Pvt. Ltd Vs State Bank of Patiala (SBP) and others.

Prepared by: S. Hemanth

Monday, January 14, 2013


The postal department is duty bound to ensure that letters reach their destination in time against all odds.

In SR.SUPERINTENDENT OF POST OFFICES DEPARTMENT OF POST VS PUSHPENDRA SINGH, Rajasthan Public Service Commission, Ajmer invited applications for the post of sub-inspectors in Rajasthan police. The complainant sent his application for the said post on 28.12.2010 through speed post. The application did not reach the destination till 31.12.2010, the last day. It was tendered to the Rajasthan Public Service Commission on 04.01.2011 after 4 days of the last date. The complainant received back the envelope on 12.01.2011 with the remark ‘time barred’.

The National Consumer Commission has said, it is the duty of the State to see to it that the letter reaches within 24 hours or at the most within 48 hours from the date of its receipt. It is no part of the duty of subject to anticipate that the letter would not reach the destination due to agitation. The postal department should under all the probabilities, whether it is in its control or beyond its control, must see to it that the letters reach the destination in time.

The post office is not supposed to play with the carrier of the citizen of the country. The letters sent through speed post are always urgent and emergent. It there is a delay, it is the duty of the state to find out some other method to prevent the delay in such like matters.

Related Articles:

Prepared by: S. Hemanth
Advocate at Hemanth & Associates 

Monday, November 26, 2012


Does the negligent or rash act of a doctor which causes the death of his patient immediately, comes within the parameters of an accident?

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC)  in Life Insurance Corporation of India Vs Narender Singh  observed:

Death of a patient due to rash and negligent act of a doctor is an accident, making the victim entitled to the accidental death benefits from his or her insurer. The LIC was ordered to pay the accidental death benefits to the husband of the insured, who had died while being operated upon. The NCDRC held “..the injury to the life assured was an accident caused by outward, violent and visible means and therefore, the Life Insurance Corporation of India cannot be absolved from its liability to pay the accidental benefits to the complainant”.

The LIC had denied the accidental benefits to the complainant saying his wife death during the surgery was not an accident.

Prepared by: S. Hemanth


The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission had held that an education board is not a service provider and a student writing an exam is not a consumer.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in University of Delhi Vs Mohd. A.M Abel Karim held:

“The process of holding examinations, evaluating answer scripts, declaring results and issuing certificates are different stages of a single statutory non-commercial function. It is not possible to divide this function as partly statutory and partly administrative. When the Examination Board conducts an examination in discharge of its statutory function, it does not offer its “services” to any candidate. Nor does a student who participates in the examination conducted by the Board, hires or avails of any service from the Board for a consideration. On the other hand, a candidate who participates in the examination conducted by the Board, is a person who has undergone a course of study and who requests the Board to test him as to whether he has imbided sufficient knowledge to be fit to be declared as having successfully completed the said course of education; and if so, determine his position or rank or competence vis- -vis other examinees. The process is not therefore availment of a service by a student, but participation in a general examination conducted by the Board to ascertain whether he is eligible and fit to be considered as having successfully completed the secondary education course. The examination fee paid by the student is not the consideration for availment of any service, but the charge paid for the privilege of participation in the examination. The Act does not intend to cover discharge of a statutory function of examining whether a candidate is fit to be declared as having successfully completed a course by passing the examination. The fact that in the course of conduct of the examination, or evaluation of answer – scripts, or furnishing of mark-sheets or certificates, there may be some negligence, omission or deficiency, does not convert the Board into a service – provider for a consideration, nor convert the examinee into a consumer who can make a complaint under the Act. The Board is not a ‘service provider’ and a student who takes an examination is not a ‘consumer’ and consequently, complaint under the Act will not be maintainable against the Board”.

Prepared by: S. Hemanth



University of Delhi Vs Mohd. A.M Abel Karim
CDJ 2012 (Cons.) Case No.379
Life Insurance Corporation of India Vs Narender Singh
CDJ 2012 (Cons.) Case No.253

Prepared by: S. Hemanth