Kerala HC: District Consumer Forums Authorized to Issue Commissions for Local Inspections

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Kerala HC directes Central Government

Recently, in September 2021, the Kerala High Court decided that a District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has the same power and authority as a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure to order commissions for local inspection. 

Facts of the case

Petitioners were the opposing parties in a consumer complaint filed by the respondent with the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Kottayam. The aforementioned complaint was made against the petitioners, alleging a lack of service in the issue of the first petitioner selling ceramic floor tiles to the respondent. In summary, the complaint alleged that the ceramic floor tiles provided to the respondent by the first petitioner were not the tiles exhibited to him and purchased by him. In their versions presented in the hearings, the petitioners denied the claim in the complaint.

Arguments by the Petitioner

The counsel argued that during the proceedings, the respondent chose an application for the issue of a commission for local inspection. The petitioners objected to the application’s plea primarily because the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (the Commission) established under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 lacks the power to issue a commission for local inspection.

The learned counsel for the petitioners also contended that, with the exception of those mentioned specifically in sub-section (9) of the Code of Civil Procedure, the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure are not made pertinent to the proceedings before the Commission, and that, under the said provision, the Commission is only empowered to issue commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents.

Arguments by the Respondent

The counsel stated that the Commission could overrule the petitioners’ objection and could grant application as a valid decision, finding that it had the authority to issue a commission for local inspection under Section 38, sub-section (9) of the Consumer Protection Act 2019.

Observations of the Court

The Court noted that Section 38 bestowed on the Commission the powers vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure while considering a suit, in respect of the subjects listed therein, to simplify the settlement of a dispute.

The aforementioned clause would demonstrate that, in the event of a disagreement about an accusation made in a complaint, the Commission is required to decide the same in the method provided for in Section 38.

The Court also evaluated the purpose of the Consumer Protection Act and discovered that it was to safeguard consumers from all harmful practices by providing a summary mechanism for timely and effective resolution of consumer complaints, for which the aggrieved parties would have had to approach a civil court if not for the Act.

The Decision of the court

The court dismissed the writ petition of the concerned petitioners as there were no merits in the case and held that the Commission constituted under this Consumer Protection Act has the power to conduct local inspection. 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE WHOLE JUDGEMENT 


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