Consumer Protection Act came into existence with object to provide speedy relief to breach of trust or negligence. Some important cases that hold relevance in case of consumer disputes are as follows:
- Manjeet Singh Vs. National Insurance Company Ltd. & Anr:
In the present case, the appellant had purchased a second hand truck under a Hire Purchase Agreement. The vehicle was insured by the insurance company i.e. respondent. One day when he was driving the truck, a passenger asked him to stop the truck and give him a lift. When he stopped the truck, the passenger brutally assaulted the driver and fled with the truck. Appellant lodged an FIR and the respondent finance company was intimated about the theft. However, the insurance company rejected the claim on the ground of the breach of terms of the policy. The complainant approached District Consumer Disputes Forum then State Commission and National Commission to compensate him for the loss. However, all of them had rejected the case. Thus, he approached the Supreme Court.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the appellant was not at all in fault. It can be considered as a breach of the policy, but not the fundamental breach to bring the insurance policy to an end and terminate the insurance policy. The two- judge bench of the Supreme Court directed the respondent insurance company to pay 75% of the insured amount along with 9% interest per annum from the date of filing the claim. The court also directed the respondent to pay sum of Rs.1,00,000 as compensation to appellant.
- Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation (KPTC) Vs. Ashok Iron Works Pvt. Ltd.
Ashok Iron Works, a private company that manufactures iron had applied for obtaining electricity from the state’s power generation company i.e. the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation for commencing its iron production. In spite of paying all charges and obtaining confirmation for the supply of 1500 KVA energy in February 1991, the actual supply did not begin until 10 months later, in November 1991. This delay incurred a huge loss for the respondent company. This company had filed a complaint to the Belgaum Consumer Dispute Forum and later Karnataka High Court. The legal argument by KTPC was that the complaint was not maintainable as the consumer Protection Act 1986 excludes commercial supply of goods. It was argued that the company is engaged in manufacturing iron and intended to use it for commercial consumption which is excluded under the said Act. He also argued that, the complainant is not a `person’ under Section 2(1)(m) of the Act, 1986.
Further, in this case, The Supreme Court in its rulings mentioned the General Clause Act includes a private company within the purview of the definition of a “Person.” It was also held that the supply of electricity by the KPTC to a consumer would be covered under Section 2(1)(o) being ‘service.’ Also, if the electrical energy consumer is not provided to a consumer in time as is agreed upon, then under Section (2)(1)(g), then there can be a case for deficiency in service. Therefore, the clause stating “supply” of goods for commercial purpose would not be applied. The Supreme Court sent this case back to District Forum for retrial on these grounds.
- Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences v Prasanth S. Dhananka & Ors
This Consumer Protection Act case arises out of a complaint of medical negligence where a 20-year-old engineering student was admitted to the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) after he had a complaint about the acute chest pain. After several tests and X-rays, a tumor was revealed. Though, it could not be diagnosed whether the tumor was malignant. Therefore, the patient was advised to undergo a surgical removal of the same. After the surgery, the patient developed paralysis. There was a complete loss of control over the lower limbs and other related complications also raised leading to urinary tract infections, bedsores, etc. The family of the patient held NIMS and the State of Andhra Pradesh statutorily liable for this utmost negligence. The family of patient also claimed that no pre-operative tests were conducted, no neurosurgeon was present during operation. Consent was only taken for the tumor excision, however, doctors also removed ribs, tumor mass and destroyed blood vessels leading to condition of paralysis.
The Supreme Court based on the evidences, held that a huge negligence was made out on the part of doctors and the hospital. Hence, the Supreme Court awarded damages worth Rs.1 crore to compensate present and prospective medical expenses and suffering of life.
- V.N. Shrikhande Vs. Anita Sena Fernandes
The respondent in this case – Anita Sena, was a nurse by profession underwent a stone removal surgery from her gall bladder but claimed that she continued to experience pain. After 9 years, it was detected that the reason behind this was that a gauge was left in her abdomen by the surgeon who operated her. This required a second surgery. Therefore, she filed the charges for negligence and compensation of Rs.50 Lakhs before State Commission where it was barred by limitation. So she filed the case against the doctor for his negligence before National commission where it reversed the order of State Commission. Therefore, this appeal to Supreme Court.
Hon’ble Supreme Court rejected the case on limitation and evidentiary grounds. The court held that when nurse was working in the same hospital where the surgery happened. Then, in the past nine years, why did not she contact the doctor. During the discovery of gauge in the abdomen, appropriate action could have been taken on an immediate basis without requiring the respondent to pay. However, she chose to consume pain killers. Her long silence dismissed the complaint and she was entitled to no compensation.
- National Insurance Company Ltd. Vs. Hindustan Safety Glass Works Ltd. & Anr.
In this case, the appellant i.e. insurance company had refused to compensate the respondent because of damage caused due to heavy rain during a mentioned period. The Insurance Company admittedly denied relief to the insured on the basis of one of the conditions of the policy which stated that National Insurance would not be liable for any loss or damage 12 months after the event of the loss or damage to the insured. The insured filed a complaint with the State Commission under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Further, an appeal was made by the appellant before National Commission where it was held that the claim made by the insured is actionable. It also observed that the goods were insured at the time of incident and he asked for the claim next day. It rejected all the contentions urged by National Insurance and ordered the insurance company to award an amount of Rs.21,05,803.89 with interest at 9% per annum.
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