MANU/SC/1025/2003

True Court CopyTM English

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Civil Appeal No. 92 of 1998

Decided On: 11.12.2003

Appellants: The Secretary, Thirumurugan Co-operative Agricultural Credit Society
Vs.
Respondent: M. Lalitha (Dead) through Lrs. and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Shivaraj V. Patil and D.M. Dharmadhikari

JUDGMENT

Shivaraj V. Patil, J.

1. The respondents, being the members of the appellant-society, had pledged paddy bags for obtaining loan. The appellant-society issued notices to the respondents demanding payment of loan amount with interest thereon. The respondents filed petitions in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Thiruchirapally seeking direction to the appellant to release the paddy bags pledged on receipt of the loan amount or in the alternative to direct the appellant to pay the market values of the paddy bags with interest thereon from the date of pledging till the date of release and also to pass an order for compensation for mental agony and suffering. The appellant contested the claims of the respondents before the District Forum raising a preliminary objection that Consumer Forum had no jurisdiction to decide the dispute between members and cooperative society in view of Section 90 of the Tamil Nadu Cooperative Societies Act, 1983 (for short 'the Act'). The District Forum, in the light of the pleadings of the parties, raised the following points for determination:-

"1) Whether the complainants are consumers and whether there is any consumer disputes within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act and whether this Forum has no jurisdiction to entertain the complaints of this nature and decide the issue?

2) Whether there is any deficiency in service and negligence on the part of the opposite party in all the complaints?

3) Whether the complainants in all the complaints are entitled to the reliefs prayed for?"

2. The District Forum answered the points 1 and 2 in favour of the respondents and granted relief.

3. The appellant took up the matters in appeal before the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The respondents also filed appeal to the extent they were aggrieved in regard to payment of interest from 14.9.1992. The State Commission, by the common order, allowed the appeals filed by the appellant and dismissed the appeals filed by the respondents. The State Commission held that complaints filed by the respondents were themselves not maintainable having regard to Section 90 of the Act. Hence, the State Commission did not deal with the other contentions.

4. Aggrieved by the order of the State Commission, the respondents approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission by filing revision petition. The National Commission, after hearing the learned counsel for the parties and dealing with the contentions advanced by them, found fault with the order of the State Commission. Consequently, the revision petition was allowed. The order of the State Commission was set aside restoring the order passed by the District Forum. Hence, this appeal.

5. The learned counsel for the appellant urged that (1) Section 90 of the Act impliedly ousts the jurisdiction of all courts and tribunals including that of a civil court under Section 9 CPC and the Consumer Forum created under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (for short 'the 1986 Act') from adjudicating upon the issues falling within the scope of said Section; on the facts of the prese........