This article has been written by Niti Shah who is studying BLS/LLB at Pravin Gandhi College of Law
AIR 2004 SC 184
R.C. Lahoti, Ashok Bhanu
29 August 2003
Section 23 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986
CCI Chambers CO-OP. HSG. SOCIETY LTD.
Development Credit Bank LTD.
Facts of the Case
In this case, the rights of a consumer have been liberated. According to the facts of the case, the appellant had a savings bank account with the respondent bank. The bank, in this case, is the development credit bank Ltd. Days passed, After which the appellant found out a few problems in his account. Any issue which a consumer comes across is considered to be grave and based on this problem a complaint was filled to the National Redressal Forum alleging deficiency of the services provided by the bank and also submitted that the bank had mistakenly debited an amount of RS. 75,70,352 in the account of the appellant by honouring certain cheques as forged cheques i.e. fully fake and not appropriate and in some of the cheques that were submitted, the amount was wrongly tampered by someone. The photocopies of the fake cheques were submitted along with the complaint made. It was noticed that around 72 cheques were issued on the same date when one of the persons who made the tampering at the cheque was found dead. The other one denied the signatures given and all such signatures did not even tally the standard signatures of the complainant. the entire suspect went towards one of the employees of the bank who was suspected to be the person due to which the whole issue was created. A complaint was filed in the police against that employee immediately. the case went to the Supreme Court of India at that instant. The court took help from the National Forum to have a detailed analysis of the case and therefore come into a conclusion to get the entire facts and to check whether the Respondents were guilty in this case or not. The court had given a detailed and equitable justice for the parties after looking into several other cases.
- Whether the crime was committed by the respondents by tampering the cheques?
- Whether it was a case under section 23 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986?
- Whether it was the case of NCDRC?
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by R.C. Lahoti, J.
The Judges of the particular case made a detailed judgment by analyzing the matter properly with every issue being studied deeply. The complaint was filed under section 23 of the Consumer Protection Act. The main issue which arose over here was about determining the commission. The court had held that it cannot be denied that the National Level, the State level, and at the District level have been constituted under the Act with the only object of providing a speedy remedy in conformity with the principles of natural justice, taking care of such grievances as are amenable to the jurisdiction of the forum established under the Act. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties we think that the appeal deserves to be allowed and the matter sent back to the NCDRC for hearing and decision afresh. Shri Harish N. Salve, the learned senior counsel for the appellant has submitted, placing reliance one three-Judge Bench decision of this Court Dr. J.J Merchant & Ors. v. Shrinath Chaturvedi,  6 SCC 635, Indian Medical Association v. V.P. Shantha and Ors.,  6 SCC 651 and Amar Jwala Paper Mills (India) and Am. v. State Bank of India,  8 SCC 387 that the approach adopted by NCDRC does not deserve to be countenanced. Shri P. Chidambaram, the learned senior counsel for the respondent-Bank has supported the impugned order placing reliance on Synco Industries v. State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur and Ors. These forums have been established and conferred with jurisdiction in addition to the conventional courts. The principal object sought to be achieved by establishing such forums is to relieve the conventional courts of their burden which is increasing day by day and where the disposal is delayed because of the complicated and detailed procedure which at times is accompanied by technicalities. After looking into the arguments advanced, issues raised, and also a detailed study of the entire case, the court had held that the decision that was given by the NCDRC(National consumer dispute Redressal commission) was a premature opinion. The entire commission issued a particular notice to the respondent and which was taken as pleadings. Only when pleadings for both of the parties were available, the commission at that instant should have formed an opinion based on nature and also the scope of the inquiry which means whether all the questions that arose in the light of the proceedings of both the parties were detailed and even a complicated nature of the investigation was made into the facts which were not at all capable of being taken speedily. The commission then could have formed justifiably an opinion that could have been proved a lot useful for removing the complaint to the civil court. It was just a complicated nature of the entire facts and also the law for the decision which could not be decisive at all. The appeal was allowed and the decision of the National Commission was set aside. The case was again sent back to the commission for a fresh hearing and fresh study of nature and then making a final decision. There was no order made concerning the costs of the case. Thus, the court made an equitable decision which was quite relevant too because the commission did not perform their job nicely. They should have studied the entire case deeply and then they should have decided whether this case had a proper judgment or not. conventional courts. The principal object sought to be achieved by establishing such a forum is to relieve the conventional courts of their burden which is ever-increasing with the mounting arrears and whereat the disposal is delayed because of the complicated and detailed procedure which at times is accompanied by technicalities.
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