Top Five Consumer Cases in India

Introduction:-

 

        Every person living in the world is one kind of a Consumer. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 defines a Consumer, provides him his rights, gives him remedies when said rights are violated, and so on. Consumers face problems daily, some are given justice and some don’t. Here are a few important Consumer cases in India that have changed the dynamics of the terms “Consumer” and “Services” time and again.

  1. Sehgal School of Competition v. Dalbir Singh (2009) 

In this case, Respondent Dalbir Singh had enrolled himself in the Sehgal School of Competition for his preparation for the medical entrance exam. He was asked to pay the full fees for the course which was to pan out for 2 years. The responder paid the two-year charge but afterward grew dissatisfied with the school’s teaching methods. And he felt so because the school was also teaching engineering subjects and he felt that their focus was mostly on engineering aspirants, and not enough limelight was shed on medical entrance students. As a result, he opted to drop out of the school and asked for a refund of the balance fees.

The institute denied him the amount and they took the matter to the District Forum and filed a complaint. Subsequently, the petitioner was asked to pay the balance amount to the student. Unhappy with the decision, the petitioner, the school filed a revised petition to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The Commission held that the collection of fees for the total period of two years for the course is unjust and held that the school is taking part in unfair trade practice. Therefore the petition filed by the school was dismissed and the Commission ordered the petitioner to refund the balance amount to the student. 

  1. Station Manager, Indian Airlines & Others v/s Dr. Jiteswar Ahir (1994)

          The complainant of this case, Dr. Jiteswar, boarded a flight of the Indian Airlines and was informed by an employee of the aircraft (opposing party), that his luggage was unidentifiable on the ground, and was asked to exit the aircraft to locate it. This happened after he had boarded the plane and taken his respective seat, along with his colleagues who were with him on the plane. After being informed about his stranded luggage, he claimed that he moved towards the back door and discovered a step ladder attached to the aircraft door, so he stepped out on it.

However, before he could fully extend his body on the staircase, the ladder was abruptly removed, causing him to fall to the ground and sustain severe injuries. He was given immediate medical assistance and then sent to the hospital, where he was treated by medical professionals and he was reported to have traumatic Hemarthrosis in the left knee, as well as traumatic chest discomfort and abrasion in the left elbow, as a result of the aforementioned collision. The plaintiff sought Rs. 10.00 lakhs in compensation under several headings, citing carelessness and inadequacy in the service of opposing parties. The Court observed that there was a “dangerous deficiency” in the services provided by the airline. After further examining his medical condition, the State Commission ordered that the Complainant be awarded a sum of Rupees 5 lakhs.

  1. Sapient Corporation Employees Provident Fund Trust vs. HDFC & Others (2012)
  1. Sreedharan Nair N. vs Registrar, University Of Kerala (2001)

                   The appellant, Mr. Sreedharan N, was pursuing his 3-year LL.B course from the Kerala Law Academy from 1987 to 1990. After passing his exams for the entire 3-year course, he had paid a fee along with an application, to receive his Certificate in the year 1990. After following the necessary procedure, the University had neglected to provide him with his passing certificate. Turns out, the University was still contemplating whether to recognize the qualifying examination that the complainant had written, which was the B.G.L. Degree Examination of the Mysore University, to pursue the 3-year course from their Kerala Law Academy, as per the letter posted to him dated 23rd July 1991.

Regularisation of his LL.B. examination and issuance of provisional certificates and other documents in connection with it could only be considered if his qualifying degree from the University of Mysore was recognised. The appellant complained that the opposing party had created a vexatious delay in the issuance of a certificate for which the fees had been paid. He was denied the opportunity to work for a living due to the respondent’s inept performance. The appellant pleaded that he be awarded his provisional certificate with a compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs for his loss of work opportunities, earnings, and distress he faced during the meantime. 

             The court held that the University failed to meet its obligations towards its students, and the student is a “consumer” as per the definition of the Consumer Protection Act, and he has experienced a “deficiency” of service from the University. However, the appellant’s claim to receive the provisional certificate cannot be allowed, since it is up to the Academic Council of the University to make decisions on the recognition of the courses and qualifying exams. It was said that the commission has no right to issue any directives in this regard. Having said that, to compensate for the losses faced by the appellant, the respondents were directed to pay Rs. 50,000, which upon failing, the appellant is entitled to claim interest at the rate of 12% p.a., with which the appeal was dismissed. 

  1. Spring Meadows Hospital v. Harjot Ahluwalia (1998)

              A minor child was admitted to Spring Meadows Hospital by his parents and was diagnosed with typhoid. The nurse after his diagnosis, in the absence of a resident doctor, administered an injection to the child. After the administration of the injection, his condition only got worse and was shifted to an auto respiratory ICU at another hospital. It was found that the administration of the injection caused him brain damage and would only be able to live in a permanent vegetative state for the rest of his life. The parents of the child pleaded medical negligence and demanded compensation on behalf of him. The court observed that the definition of the term “consumer” in the Consumer Protection Act is wide enough to include the parents of the child, even though the child was the beneficiary of the services administered by the hospital, so the compensation can be claimed by both the child and parents if it’s justified. The National Commission ordered the hospital to compensate the parents for Rupees 17.5 Lakhs.

References:-

  1. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/189591432/ 
  2. https://www.lawyerservices.in/Station-Manager-Indian-Airlines-and-Others-Versus-Dr-Jiteswar-Ahir-1996-02-28 
  3. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/83902095/ 
  4. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1672055/ 
  5. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1715546/

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