Availability of Alternate Remedies Will Not Bar a Consumer Complaint

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Chhattisgarh High Court on its own Motion

v.

State of Maharashtra

(SCC OnLine 2016 Bom 8426 decided on 10.09.2016)

FACTS

Rajesh Kumar Agrawal has lodged a consumer complaint before the district forum alleging that his service provider adopted unfair trade practice in providing telecom services though he had paid for data service and while using the data services, balance lying in call account was deducted unauthorized which amounts to unfair trade practice. The District Forum, Korba rejected the complaint filed by the Petitioner holding that the complaint is barred under the section 7-B of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, as statutory alternative remedy of arbitration is available to the Petitioner.  The Petitioner being aggrieved by such decision preferred an appeal before the State Dispute Redressal Forum relying upon Supreme Court judgment. The State Dispute Redressal Forum to dismissed the appeal citing the same reason as that of District Forum. Being further aggrieved and dissatisfied the Petitioner presented a Writ Petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

ISSUES BEFORE THE COURT

The dispute raised by the Petitioner has been rejected by District Forum and upheld by the State Commission is only on the ground of availability of statutory alternative provided under Section 7-B of the Act of 1885 by way of arbitration to the Petitioner.

Whether the district forum or the State Commission is justified in rejecting the complaint filed by the Petitioner on the ground of availability of the statutory alternative remedy.

The object and the reason of the Consumer Protection Act 1986, is to promote and protect the right of consumers. Such as to be protected against unfair trade practice the right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interest will receive due consideration at appropriate forums. And to achieve this objective consumer dispute, quasi-judicial machinery, is sought to be set up at District, State, and Central Level.

HELD

The High Court observed that Section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act provides that the provision of the Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provision of any other law for the time being in force, and therefore, the consumer dispute raised by the Petitioner before the District Forum was maintainable. Consequently, the orders of the District Forum as well as the State Commission were set aside, and the District Forum, Korba was directed to entertain and consider the petitioner’s claim on its own merits.

LEARNING OUTCOME

The remedy available to the consumer under the Act of 1986 is an additional remedy and other statutory remedies available to the consumer under the other statutory law would not bar the consumer to avail the remedy available to under the provision of the Act 1986.

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