NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
M/s. Birla VXL Ltd. .. Complainant
National Insurance Company Ltd. .. Opposite Party
M/s. Riga Sugar Co. Ltd. Complainant
United India Insurance Co. Ltd. Opposite Party
M/s. Aquadev India Ltd. Complainant
State Bank of Hyderabad & Ors. Opposite party
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA,
MRS. RAJYALAKSHMI RAO, MEMBER.
MR. B.K. TAIMNI, MEMBER.
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE K.S. GUPTA, MEMBER.
Jurisdiction question as to the inherent jurisdiction of the National Commission to try cases even though filed earlier to 15.3.2003 with the change in definition of consumer in the Amending Act held- amending Act is in prospective in nature - held also that provisions of Section 25 and 27 shall apply to the proceedings even though complaints decided prior to 15.3.2003.
For the complainant in OP No.172/95 :Mr. B.V. Desai & Sanjeev K. Singh, Advocates
For the Opposite Party in OP 172/96 :Mr. Kishore Rawat, Advocate
For the Complainant in OP 57/96 : Mr. Prateek Jalan, Advocate
For the Opposite Party in OP 57/96 : Mr. K.L. Nandwani, Advocate
For the complainant in OP 164/96 :Mr. Sudhir Chandra, Sr. Advocate and Mr. Bhagabati Prasad Padhy,
Mr. Achuitya Dwivedi, Mr. Raju & Mr. Trideep Paid, Advocates with.
For the Opposite Party Nos.1to 5: Mr. R.P. Vats, Advocate
For the Opposite Party No.6 : Mr. B.R. Narang, Avocate.
O R D E R
DATED THE 29th MAY, 2003.
A common issue has been raised in these complaints by Mr. Nandwani, learned counsel for the insurance Company to contend that after the amendment to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 which amendment came into force on 15th March, 2003, this Commission ceases to have jurisdiction to try the complaints where the complainant is not a consumer. The issue arises in the definition of consumer as contained in clause (d) of Section 2 of the Consumer Protection Act. After the amendment the following words added to the definition of consumer:
but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial purpose.
Commercial purpose has also been defined in the explanation added to the definition which reads as under:
Explanation For the purposes of this clause, commercial purpose does not include use by a person of goods bought and used by him and services availed by him exclusively for the purposes of earning his livelihood by means of self-employment.
In all the aforesaid matters if we examine the definition of consumer, Mr. Nandwani is right that the complainants do not satisfy the definition of consumer. But these complaints are pending for the last many years. That according to Mr. Nandwani is not material inasmuch as if the Commission ceases to have jurisdiction to try a complaint, complaints have to be dismissed with liberty to the parties to go to Civil Court or to any other forum. Earlier in the case of Smt. Babita Aggarwal & Ors. vs. Dr. S.K. Goel ( Original Petition No.379/2002) decided on 26.3.03 we held that the Amendment Act is not retrospective In that case question raised was that since pecuniary jurisdiction of the National Commission is over and above Rs.1.00 crore the complaints where claim is less than that amount and were pending before the coming into force the Amending Act this Commission will ceases to have jurisdiction. We rejected this contention and held that the Amendment Act was prospective in nature.
The question now raised is to the inherent jurisdiction of the National Commission. We issued notice in the matter and requested Mr. C.S. Vaidyanathan, Senior Advocate to assist us on the issue so raised. We have heard Mr. Nandwani, Mr. Kishore Rawat, Mr. C.S. Vaidyanathan, Mr. Prateek Jalan, and Mr. Suri. While Mr. Nandwani and Mr. Kishore Rawat supported the stand of the Insurance Company, other learned counsel opposed the same. After hearing the learned counsel for the parties we are of the view that as regards the definition of consumer which came into force w.e.f. 15.3.2003 the Amending Act is nevertheless prospective in nature.
An ancillary issue was also raised as regards the procedure to be adopted in the case falling under Section 25 and 27 of the Act as amended by the Amending Act of 2002 coming into force on 15.3.2003. In this regard After hearing Mr. C.S. Vaidyanathan, Senior Advocate we are of the view that even though complaints were decided prior to 15.3.2003 procedure for enforcement of the orders will have to be as per the amended provisions of Section 25 and 27 of the Act.
Since the issue raised is of importance we are giving this short order and detailed reasons will follow.
(JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA)