An error in procedure makes an order Null & Void
Uttar Pradesh State Consumer Forum reversed an order made by the Gautam Buddha Nagar District Consumer Forum, which had sentenced Ritu Maheshwari, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA), to one month in prison. Maheshwari was found guilty of not complying with a directive issued by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in 2014.
It was observed by State Commission that District Commission’s order “defective” because it failed to give GNIDA an opportunity to present its side of the case. Consumer Commissions to follow the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) when exercising powers under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act. I.e. issue notice, after notice bailable warrants, non-boilable warrants and then declaring absconding &punishment
Case title: Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority vs Mahesh Mitra
Appeal Execution Application No. AEA/1/2023
Decided on 24 June 2023
Other similar case of resulting into dismissal of complaint:
It’s the most painful thing for a consumer who wins the case after putting all efforts, energy and time and it becomes null and void due to an error in understanding the real person who is to be punished. It happened with a complainant in the matter of H.K. Singla vs. Avtar Singh Saini & Ors.Decided On 14th December 2018 who had filed a complaint against secretary Chandigarh State Bank of Patiala Employees Co-operative USE Thrift & Credit Society, claiming maturity amount along with interest on his deposit with the Society
As per the practice under law, in cases of suits/claims/complaints filed by the corporate, authorities or units, they are to be filed through name and person authorized by the authority under the document of power of attorney to sign the documents etc. Further it needs to be supported by resolution passed in an individual’s favour to deal with specific case by virtue of holding power of attorney from the authority.
- District consumer court passed an order in favour of consumer directing the society to pay the maturity amount with interest @10% per annum along with compensation to the tune of rupees ten thousand to the complainant
- Since society had gone in liquidation ,they went in appeal before the state commission .State commission Chandigarh dismissed the appeal finding no error in the district consumer forum order &order is to be complied
- Now complainants comes back to the consumer forum for execution of the order under section 27 of the act .and District forum in the absence of payment of decrial amount, orders two years imprisonment and rupees 5000/- fine .
- Aggrieved by this order, respondent again goes to the State commission for staying the order of imprisonment. State commission passed an interim order staying the operation of order of imprisonment subject to payment of decrial amount within eight weeks.
- Defendants failed to comply this order also and they filed appeal against the order of State commission before the National commission .National commission confirmed all the orders of lower courts below dated 08.11.2012 passed in First Appeal Nos.652/12; 653/12; 654-656/12; 657/12 It was held by the National Commission that district forum rightly ordered for imprisonment under section 27 of the act for non-compliance of its order, State commission rightly gave an opportunity to the opposite party to pay the decrial amount within specific period and conditionally stayed the operation of imprisonment. With this observation, National Commission dismissed the appeal holding all orders passed by the lower commissions correct
- Supreme Court as the case H.K. Singla Vs. Avtar Singh Saini & Ors.[Civil Appeal No. 11969 of 2018 Decided On 14th December 2018
- District court in its order fixed the liability of secretary, Chandigarh State Bank of Patiala Employees Co-operative USE Thrift & Credit Society, to repay the deposited amount with interest to the complainant but did not make secretary liable in his individual capacity. Hence he could not be imprisoned under section 27 of the act in the absence of he made party by name or on behalf of society fixing personal liability.
- State commission while staying the order of imprisonment in 2013 with condition to pay the decrial amount did nothing to correct the error though this interim order continued from time to time. It was the State commission to decide there and then as to whether any order for jail can be passed against the society for non –compliance of the order
- National commission also did not interfere in the order passed below but did not specify whom to send to jail under section 27 of the act
- Under the circumstances Supreme Court suspended the order of the district forum to the extent of imprisonment of secretary of the society
- This is also observed that society has gone in liquidation and liquidator has been appointed, complainant is given liberty to take necessary steps to recover the decrial amount as ordered by the district court in accordance with law
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