20 January 2020


Judgments

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

Western Railway v. Vinod Sharma

MANU/CF/0019/2017

18.01.2017

Consumer

Jurisdiction of consumer fora not barred, even if, provisions to provide compensation are laid down in Railway legislation

Present first appeal has been filed under Section 19, read with Section 21(a)(ii) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, against impugned order passed by State Commission in Consumer Complaint No. 120/2012, filed by present respondent/complainant, vide which, said complaint was allowed, and compensation was ordered to be paid to complainant. Main thrust of arguments advanced on behalf of Appellant, emphasises that, consumer fora had no jurisdiction to entertain consumer complaint in question, keeping in view provisions of Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987 and Railways Act, 1989.

Provisions of Railways Act, 1989 and Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987 indicates that, an elaborate mechanism has been laid down for providing compensation in event of accidents, untoward incidents and allied matters, during course of operations, carried out by Railways and for that purpose, jurisdiction, powers and authority of Claims Tribunal have been laid down. Apex Court and this Commission as well observed that, Consumer Protection Act is a special legislation, enacted to provide better protection for the interests of consumers in diverse fields. It is true that for specific sectors such as banking, finance, insurance, supply of electricity, entertainment etc., appropriate mechanism has been laid down in respective statute, to provide suitable relief to the consumers as per requirements. However, Consumer Protection Act is a beneficial legislation, specially enacted for protection of consumers and provides an additional remedy in the shape of Section '3' of the Consumer Protection Act, which clearly lays down that provisions of Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of provisions of any other law for the time being in force. A harmonious construction of provisions contained in Consumer Protection Act and Railways Act etc. shall indicate that, jurisdiction of the consumer fora cannot be barred, even if the provisions to provide compensation are laid down in the Railway legislation.

Supreme Court in Secretary, Thirumurugan Cooperative Agricultural Credit Society v. M. Lalitha (dead) through LRs and in Trans Mediterranean Airways v. Universal Exports observed that, having due regard to scheme of the Act and purpose sought to be achieved to protect the interest of the consumers, the better provisions are to be interpreted broadly, positively and purposefully to give meaning to additional/extended jurisdiction, particularly when Section '3' seeks to provide remedy under the Act in addition to other remedies provided under other Acts, unless there is clear bar. In State of Karnataka v. Vishwabarathi House Building Co-op. Society, Supreme Court observed, that by reasons of the provisions of Section '3' of the Act, it is evident that remedies provided thereunder are not in derogation of those provided under other laws. Said Act supplements and not supplants the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts or other statutory authorities. Consumer fora do have the jurisdiction to deal with present case and hence, consumer complaint cannot be dismissed on ground of lack of jurisdiction by the consumer fora.

Regarding delay, position explained by Appellant shows that there is no intentional delay on their part in filing appeal. Delay of 67 days is, therefore, ordered to be condoned. Plea of Appellant that, complainant does not fall within definition of consumer as the Railway identity card in his possession did not bear the signatures of the complainant and also on the season ticket, there was no name and signatures of the complainant is without force. Complainant cannot be denied privileges of a consumer, based on technicality that, signatures were not there on identify card or season ticket. It is held, therefore, that for purpose of the present proceedings, complainant very much falls within definition of consumer, as his status as Railway passenger, as well as factum of accident on Railway premises had been admitted by OP Railways. State Commission rightly concluded that, as a result of the injury suffered during the accident, the complainant was not in a position to do any work and his functional disability was 100%. Method followed by the State Commission and the quantum of compensation arrived at by them, shall meet the ends of justice and there is no need for making any change.

Relevant

Secretary, Thirumurugan Cooperative Agricultural Credit Society v. M. Lalitha (dead) through LRs, MANU/SC/1025/2003
: I (2004) CLT 20 (SC), Trans Mediterranean Airways v. Universal Exports, MANU/SC/1126/2011
: IV 2011 CPJ 13(SC), State of Karnataka v. Vishwabarathi House Building Co-op. Society, MANU/SC/0033/2003
: I (2003) CPJ 1 (SC)

Tags : Complaint Compensation Jurisdiction

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