Are Chartered Accountants or Chartered accountant firm service providers under Consumer Protection Act 2019
To understand the context, we first need to understand the definition of ‘services’ under Consumer Protection Act. Under the Act Services’ means service of any description which is made available to potential users and includes, but not limited to, the provision of facilities in connection with banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, board or lodging or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service.
If one goes by this definition of ‘services’ when CA or CA firm charges fee for its special advise or expert opinion or services related to its/his profession ,it is considered rendering services under the Consume Protection Act
Interpretation by the Courts
Jacob Mathew V State Of Punjab Sc 2005, three judges bench
Every professional including advocates, charted accountants, doctors, etc who provide professional services by receiving payment is a service provider under Consumer Protection Act”
Lucknow Development Authority v M K Gupta (1994) 1 SCC 243 SC
This court order held that statutory authorities are amenable to jurisdiction of consumer courts if there is deficiency in services.
“If the statutory authority, other than the core sovereign duties, is providing service, which is encompassed under the Act, then, unless any Statute exempts, or provides for immunity, for deficiency in service, or specifically provides for an alternative forum, the Consumer Forums would continue to have the jurisdiction to deal with the same.”
The legislative intent of Section 2(42) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 was to make ‘services’ as inclusive as possible. In the Dr.Vijil & Others V/S Ambujakshi .T.P 7 Others High Court of Kerela, the Court specified that
“A reading of the inclusive part in Section 2(42) would show that the Parliament intended to specifically underline that certain services like Banking, Financing, Insurance, Transport, etc., which are in the nature of public utility services, would come within the purview of ‘services’. The definition is inclusive and not exhaustive. Therefore, all services which are made available to potential users would fall under Section 2(42), except those services rendered free of charge or under a contract of personal service.”
The words “but not limited to” appearing in Section 2(42) clarifies the intention of the Parliament. The medical services therefore would indeed fall within the ambit of Section 2(42), unless of course the service is free of charge or is under a contract of personal service,” the Court noted in its order.
From the above discussion, it is clear that all services by individuals, by traders or business entities or professionals are covered under Consumer Protection Act whether word specified or not
The purpose and Intention of the Law is the most important factor when judiciary gives its interpretation. In other words, judiciary is to give explanation and help the law to be implemented in its proper spirit.
By Dr Prem Lata
Legal Head VOICE