2021 In Review: Landmark judgments by the Supreme Court

Leading cases decided by the honourable Supreme Court in the year 2021 are going to be remembered as benchmark judgments in the evolution of consumer jurisprudence. Let us know here, what significance these hold.

Dr Prem Lata

Supreme Court (SC) is the final court of appeal in the country. As per Consumer Protection Act (CPA), cases reach the Court when judgements of the National Consumers Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) come in to appeal by the losing party. The SC has worked very well in 2021 to adjudicate consumer disputes that came before it. It also took cognizance of some vital consumer issues which were affecting the consumer rights adversely by giving a just interpretation to the law to end consumer sufferings. 

To put this into perspective, let us recap a bit. Year 2019 was a table-turning year when Consumer Protection Act 1986 was repealed with the Act of 2019. This new law came into force in July 2020. Consequently, year 2021 was full of queries, debates and implementation of issues arising from repeal of old Consumer Protection Act. As per the Indian Constitution, SC judgements are to be followed by all courts of the country and their interpretation must be observed in adjudicating the cases at various levels by courts at all levels. Here are the top 10 cases in Consumer Law decided in 2021:

CASE 1

Ireo Grace Realtech Pvt. Ltd. Vs Abhishek Khanna & Others, Civil Appeal No. 5785 of 2019 (Supreme Court)

Bench -Dr Dhananjaya, Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra, Indira Banerjee

Decided on –January11, 2021

Ref. Pioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure Ltd Vs Govindan Raghavan

SC held-

“We are of the view that the incorporation of such one-sided and unreasonable clauses in the Apartment Buyer’s Agreement constitutes an unfair trade practice under Section 2(1)(r) of the Consumer Protection Act. Developer cannot compel the apartment buyers to be bound by the one-sided contractual terms contained in the Apartment Buyer’s Agreement.”

 CASE 2

Narinder Chopra V/S Jaiprakash Associates (NC)

Consumer Complaint No 3258 0f 2017 along with IA 330 of 2021&IA 1130 Of 2021

Decided On 16.5.2021

Law point:  

  1. Whether pending matters are to be transferred to appropriate commission after enhancement of pecuniary jurisdiction 

NC held-

  • There is no provision for transfer of pending cases in the new Act of 2019
  • The transitional provisions contained in Sections 31, 45 and 56 expressly indicate that the adjudicatory personnel who were functioning as Members of the District Commission, SCDRC and NCDRC under the erstwhile legislation shall continue to hold office under the new legislation. 
  • Previous decisions of the NCDRC which had interpreted after amendments 2002, that enhanced pecuniary jurisdiction, with prospective effect. Ref. Cases Southfield Paints and Chemicals Pvt. Ltd. v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. & Premier Automobiles Ltd. v. Dr Manoj Ramachandran, where the NCDRC held that the amendments enhancing the pecuniary jurisdiction are prospective in nature.

CASE 3 

M/s Daddy’s Builders Pvt. Ltd. & Another Vs Manisha Bhargava and Another 

(Petition for Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No. 1240 of 2021)

Decided on February 11, 2021. Supreme Court of India

SC held-

  • Written statement by opposite party to complaint within 30 days or such extended period, not exceeding 15 days, should be read as mandatory
  • Commencing point of limitation of 30 days, under the aforesaid provisions, would be from the date of receipt of notice accompanied by a copy of the complaint, and not merely receipt of the notice

 CASE 4 

Ireo Grace Realtech Pvt. Ltd. Vs Abhishek Khanna & Others Civil Appeal No. 5785 Of 2019 (Supreme Court 

Bench -Dr Dhananjaya, Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra, Indira Banerjee

Decided on –January11, 2021

SC held-

  • Both the acts are equal and not conflicting or inconsistent to each other, give additional remedy to the consumers under Section 100 of CP Act 2019 & Section 88 of RERA Act 2019
  • Section 79 of the RERA Act bars any civil proceedings in real estate matters but does not bar Consumer Commissions
  • Section 71(1) of the RERA Act entitles a complainant to withdraw the proceedings under the CP Act with the permission of the Forum or Commission and file under RERA Act. 

CASE  5

Honda Cars India Limited Vs Sudesh Berry CIVIL APPEAL NO.6802 OF 2021 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.11986/2020) SC 

Decided on 12 November, 2021

SC held

  • If there be any deficiency in service by the dealer or the authorised centre in rendering assistance for repairs of the vehicle, the manufacturer of the vehicle cannot be held liable. 

CASE 6  

TATA Motors Ltd Vs Antonio Paulo Vaz & Another, 2021 SCC Online SC 125 

SC held 

  • Manufacturer and dealer have principal to principal relation and not of principal to agent. Manufacturer not held liable for the wrongs of dealer.                                                                 

CASE  7  Manohar Infrastructure and Constructions Private Ltd Vs Sanjeev Kumar Sharma & Ors.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 714]

Decided on December 2021

SC held

  • NC has discretionary power vested with it to impose any condition while giving stay and rightly ordered to pay entire amount as determined amount by State Commission
  • This condition has to do nothing with mandatory requirement of depositing 50 per cent of determined amount by State Commission. 

CASE  

M/s Sheth M L Vaduwala Eye Hospital Vs Oriental Insurance Company Limited and Others SC Judgment by J. Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J. Dt 11 Dec 2021

SC held 

An insurance policy taken by doctors for professional indemnity can’t be used to make insurance companies pay the liability of compensation to patients on behalf of the hospital which is not insured. 

CASE 9. 

M/S. Newtech Promoters And Developers Pvt. Ltd Vs State Of Up & Ors. 

Civil Appeal No(S). 6753 Of 2021 (Arising Out Of SLP(Civil) No(S). 3426 Of 2021)

SC Judgment Dt 11 Nov 2021 

SC held 

  • To ensure greater accountability towards consumers and in view of the objective of the act, ongoing projects are also brought under the provisions of the act hence retroactive application of RERA Act confirmed 
  • Section 18 confers right upon an allottee to get refund of the amount deposited with the promoter with interest if the promoter fails to give possession by the date specific
  • Single member of the authority under Section 81 of the Act authorised to order for refund and under Sec 40 can provide for collection of funds as revenue.

CASE  10 Union Bank Of India v/s Rajasthan Real Estate Regulatory 

High Court Of Judicature For Rajasthan Bench At Jaipur D.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 13688/2021 Bench: Akil Kureshi, Uma Shanker Vyas 

Decided on 14.12.2021 

H.C of Rajasthan held 

  • That pursuant to taking possession of the project, the bank enters into the shoes of the promoter and becomes the assignee of the promoter and thus, amenable to jurisdiction of RERA.
  • The RERA would prevail over SARFAESI Act‘ 
  • The rights of the real estate allottees cannot be compromised for the legal rights of Bank
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