December 7, 2018

2 Important Supreme Court Judgments Pronounced Today [Friday, December 7, 2018]

1. Rameshwar Prasad Shrivastava v. Dwarikadhis Projects Pvt. Ltd.

Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 - Order I Rule 8 - Consumer Protection Act, 1986 - Sections 2 (1) (b), 12 (1), 13 (6), 23 - “complainant” - Manner in which complaint shall be made.

A closer look at Section 2(1)(b) would show that under sub-clause (i) it is the consumer himself, as aggrieved person who could be the Complainant and maintain an action. Under sub-clause (ii), a voluntary organization or association may espouse the cause of such aggrieved person. Under sub-clause (iii) either the central government or the state government may take-up the matter as complainant. We are, however, concerned with the expression appearing in sub-clause (iv) which reads “one or more consumers whether there are numerous consumers having the same interest”. This very expression finds incorporated in sub-clause (c) of Section 12(1) with an addition following said expression, namely “….. with the permission of the District Forum, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, all consumers so interested”. 





Section 12(1) thus in its substantive part says that a complaint may be filed with the District Forum by any of the four categories as mentioned in sub-clauses ‘a’ to ‘d’. Since sub-clause (c) contemplates filing of such complaint, “….. with the permission of the District Forum”, we will have to see the context and in what manner such permission is required to be taken in terms of the provisions of the Act. The answer is available in Section 13(6) of the Act which inter alia lays down that where the complaint is referable to Section 2(1)(b)(iv), the provisions of Rule 8 of Order 1 of the First Schedule to the CPC, 1908 (Act 5 of 1908) shall apply subject to the modification that every reference therein to a suit or decree shall be construed as a reference to a complaint or the order of the District forum thereon. The mandate, “shall apply” is quite significant. 

The language used and the text in Section 13(6) is clear that wherever a complaint is filed by a complainant in the category referred to in Section 2(1)(b)(iv), the provisions of Order 1 Rule 8 CPC shall apply with the modification that reference to suit or decree shall be construed as reference to a complaint or order of the District Forum. The expression “with the permission of the District Forum” as appearing in Section 12(1)(c) must be read along with Section 13(6) which provides the context and effect to said expression. In our view Sections 12(1)(c) and 13(6) are not independent but are to be read together and they form part of the same machinery. 

It is however summitted that the expression “one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest” may be given widest possible interpretation so as to make the redressal mechanism easy, cost effective and efficacious. We are afraid we cannot accept such contention as the language employed in the relevant provisions is absolutely clear and does not admit of any other interpretation.

If we accept the submission of the appellants, the category of persons referred to in Section 13(6) of the Act, with the aid of requisite permission in terms of Order I Rule 8 of the CPC could maintain a class action which may bind similarly placed consumers but those referred to in Section 12(1)(c) would be a different category who would not be bound by the provisions of Order I Rule 8 of CPC. In essence a separate category of persons as consumer/consumers would be entitled to maintain an action under Section 12(1)(c) of the Act. In our considered view that certainly is not the intent. If we accept the submission, we would be going against the express mandate of the statute. All that such interpretation would help achieve for some consumers is to maintain an action in a forum with higher pecuniary jurisdiction where, but for such collective cause of action, the action would not lie in such forum with higher pecuniary jurisdiction.



We, therefore, find that the view taken by the National Commission in the case of Ambrish Kumar (supra) is consistent with the text of the provisions and is the correct view. The National Commission, in the present case, was therefore justified in holding Consumer Case Nos. 250 of 2013 and 43 of 2014 to be not maintainable.

Petitioner's Advocate : Priyanjali Singh
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Hon'ble Mr. Justice R. Subhash Reddy
Judgment By : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit



2. Gopal Singh (dead) Through Lrs. v. Swaran Singh

Punjab Package Deal Properties (Disposal) Act 1976 - S. 16 - Bar of jurisdiction and finality of orders - Every order made by any officer or authority under the said Act is final and no Civil Court shall have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceeding and no injunction shall be granted by any court or other authority in respect of any action taken under provisions of the Act.

Petitioner's Advocate : Vinod Sharma
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Hon'ble Mr. Justice R. Subhash Reddy
Judgment By : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit
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