Latest, important and landmark judgements of Courts on consumer protection:
NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION V/S M/s Hotel Hyatt Regency
If the hotel authorities cannot keep the car safely they should have put a big board at the entrance of the hotel proclaiming “Beware giving car keys to the valet of this hotel does not ensure safety of your car, Management is not responsible for theft of the car”.
Mithoolal Nayak Vs Life Insurance Corporation Of … On 15 January, 1962
Pre-existing disease-refund if false statement found]
We agree with the High Court that where the contract is bad on the ground of fraud, the party who has been guilty of fraud or a person who claims under him can not ask for a refund of the money paid…
BIMAN KRISHNA BOSE Vs. UNITED INDIA INSURANCE CO.LTD. & ANR
A renewal of an insurance policy means repetition of the original policy. When renewed, the policy is extended and the renewed policy in the identical terms from a different date of its expiration comes into force. In common parlance, by renewal, the old policy is revived and it is sort of a substitution of obligations under the old policy unless such policy provides otherwise. It may be that on renewal, a new contract comes into being, but the said contract is on the same terms and conditions as that of the original policy.
K. A. Bhandula & Another v Indraprastha Apollo Hospital & Others [III (2009) CPJ 164 (NC)]
Relying on the Apex Court decision in Jacob Mathew v State of Punjab & Another [III (2005) CPJ 9 (SC)], the Commission thus held that to bring home the allegation, it was necessary for the complainant to cite medical opinion of a cancer specialist in the relevant speciality and in the absence thereof, benefit had to be given to the doctor. However, applying the ratio of the Apex Court judgment in Samira Kohli v Dr. Prabha Manchanda & Another [I (2008) CPJ 56 (SC)], the Commission held that the other allegation that the consultant doctor did not apply due standards of care expected of a surgeon of ordinary skills in apprising the complainant fully of the most probable implications of the recommended surgery (craniofacial resection) and the available alternatives, was established. Accordingly, the Commission awarded a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh against the hospital and Rs. 2 lakh against the doctor.
Arvind Shah (Dr.) v Kamlaben Kushwaha [III (2009) CPJ 121]
The Commission held that in line with the Apex Court’s decision in Samira Kohli v Dr. Prabha Manchanda [I (2008) CPJ 56 (SC)] regarding need for valid prior consent of the patient for his treatment by a doctor and the doctor’s corresponding duty of disclosure, it was essential for the doctor to write a prescription with such necessary details and failure to do so would constitute medical negligence. The Commission further observed that if a patient found that the doctor’s treatment did not help ease his felt problem and wanted to consult another, a prescription with such details would be necessary. On the other hand, a prescription meeting these basic requirements would also assist a doctor in demonstrating that he had treated his patient with due care, if charged with a wrong/false allegation of negligence by the patient. While returning a finding of medical negligence against the doctor, the Commission found that the material on record case was insufficient to attribute the patient’s death directly and wholly to the doctor’s negligence. Accordingly, it scaled down the compensation to Rs. 2.5 lakh along with interest.
Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation v Ashok Iron Works Private Limited [III (2009) CPJ 5 SC]
The Apex Court rejected the appellant’s contention that a company was excluded from the definition of ‘person’. In this, the Court relied upon the English Court decision in Dilworth v Commissioner of Stamps [(1899) AC 99] and its own in Reserve Bank of India v Peerless General Finance and Investment Company Limited. & Others [(1987) 1 SCC 424] and reiterated that the use of the word ‘includes’ in a statute often showed the intention of the Legislature to give an extensive and enlarged meaning to such expressions though sometimes, the context might suggest that ‘includes’ was designed to mean ‘means.’ The setting, context and object of an enactment might provide sufficient guidance for interpretation. The Court also referred to section 3(42) of General Clauses Act which defines a ‘person’ to include a company, etc., and went on to observe that out of the four categories mentioned in section 2(1)(m) of the CPA, the third i.e., co-operative society was corporate, which showed that the Legislature intended to include bodies corporate as well as incorporate.
New India Assurance Company Limited v Abhilash Jewellery [III (2009) CPJ 2 (SC)]
The National Commission held that an apprentice was an ’employee’ since section 2(6) of the Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments Act (as well as some other statutes) defined an ’employee’ to include an ‘apprentice’. The Supreme Court, however, held that the word ’employee’ in the contract of insurance mentioned had to be given the meaning in common parlance. The definition in the local Act, including an ‘apprentice’ in the category of ’employee’, was only a ‘legal fiction’, which is a concept in law and could not be applied to an insurance contract.
HDFC Bank Limited v Balwinder Singh [III (2009) CPJ 40 (NC)]
The National Commission expressed shock that the bank had hired musclemen directly or through its recovery agents to recover the loan/repossess the vehicle. The Commission also referred to the State Commission’s order, which had observed that the alleged letter produced by the bank purporting to the complainant voluntarily handing over possession of the vehicle was unreliable and that no notice was given to the complainant at the stages of repossession and sale of vehicle. In dismissing the petition, the Commission relied upon its judgment in Citicorp Maruti Finance Limited v S. Vijayalaxmi [III (2007) CPJ 161 (NC)] where it had strongly deprecated such practices.
Malka Tarannum v Dr. C. P. Gupta [III (2009) CPJ 49 (NC)]
Relying on the Supreme Court decision in Jacob Mathew v State of Punjab and Another [(2005) 6 SCC 1], the Commission observed that the doctor who had applied the plaster in the first instance was a senior orthopaedic specialist with considerable experience and the complainant could not dispute his professional decision on the basis of mere allegations, without any expert evidence. The Commission also rejected the complainant’s husband’s contention that he was a consumer since he was covered by the Supreme Court decision in Laxman Thamappa Kotgiri v G.M., Central Railway & Others and that receiving free medical treatment was part of the terms and conditions of his service. It held that the complainant took no such plea before the Fora below and no evidence was produced.
Sehgal School of Competition v Dalbir Singh [III (2009) CPJ 33 (NC)]
The Commission relied on Homeopathic Medical College & Hospital, Chandigarh v Miss Gunita Virk [I (1996) CPJ 37 (NC)] where it was held that Consumer Fora did not have jurisdiction to declare any rule in the prospectus of any institution as unconscionable or illegal. Referring to its recent decision in Nipun Nagar v. Symbiosis Institute of International Business [I (2009) CPJ 3 (NC)], it observed that the Commission had held that (under certain circumstances) it was unjust to collect fees for the total period of the course and dismissed the petition.
Medical Superintendent, St. Gregorious Mission Hospital v Jessy & Another [III (2009) CPJ 61 (NC)]
The Commission relied upon the Supreme Court judgment in M.S. Grewal v Deep Chand Sood [II (2001) ACC 540 (SC)] and held there was negligence. Relying upon cross-examination of the Medical Superintendent, the Commission held that the complainant wife was not instructed to be continuously with her husband as alleged and that the instruction in the Nurses Daily Record, being in a different ink, was a manipulation.
Life Insurance Corporation of India v Gowramm [III (2009) CPJ 25 (NC)]
The Commission referred to the Supreme Court decision in Mithoolal Nayak v Life Insurance Corporation of India [AIR 1962 SC 814] where the Court had rejected a similar contention that the revival of the policy constituted a new contract between the parties and held that section 45 was clear that the period of two years was to be reckoned from the date on which the policy was originally effected. The Commission observed that the decision of Supreme Court had to be preferred and followed.
Narinder Kumar Suneja v R.K. Goel [III (2009) CPJ 35 (NC)]
The National Commission referred to the order of the State Commission which, in turn, referred to the District Forum’s order holding that the opposite party (petitioner) was not entitled to retain the fee when he did not perform the duty for which the fee was meant and that a complaint made by the complainant to the Bar Council related only to misconduct on the part of its member (i.e., petitioner) whereas the Consumer Fora were required to determine whether proper service had been rendered or not. The Commission relied upon D.K. Gandhi v M. Mathias [III (2007) CPJ 337 (NC)] in holding that deficiency in service by lawyers was covered under the CPA.
Rajasthan Financial Corporation v M.K. Bhoot & Another [III (2009) CPJ 10 (NC)]
The National Commission held that no consumer dispute under the CPA could arise out of a relationship of seller and purchaser in an auction as there was no arrangement of hiring of services for consideration. The Commission followed a three member bench decision in Panjim Planning and Development Authority v Mrs. Rashmi A. Sisat and Others [R.P. No. 258/1992 decided on 10.1.1994 (1986-95 Consumer Vol. 1 pp 8-9] and a four-member bench decision in Tamil Nadu Housing Board v R. Sivasubramaniyan [1989 Consumer 3587 (NS)] which were cases of sale/allotment of plots in public auction.