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K.J. Thomas v/s Executive Officer, Vazhoor Panchayat

    Appeal No. 713 of 1998

    Decided On, 12 February 1999

    At, Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Thiruvananthapuram

    By, MEMBER

    For the Appellant: None. For the Respondent: R.S. Kalkura, S. Reghukumar, Advocates.

Judgment Text

Prof. K. Madhuri Latha, Member:

1. The complainant in O.P. No. 1003/1994 of the District Forum, Kottayam is the appellant. The appeal is against the order of the Forum dated 5th May, 1998.

2. The complainant is the Convenor of the Consumer Vigilance Cell of Vazhur East. As the Convenor he approached the Forum seeking the following reliefs.

(i) The opposite party viz., the Executive Officer, Vazhur Panchayat should be directed to provide the complainant with a copy of the revised tax assessment register of buil

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ings of the 8th Ward.(ii) To award compensation of Rs. 1,000/- towards the loss and mental agony.(iii) Panchayat should be directed to receive petitions and acknowledgement for the receipt of the same.(iv) To direct the Panchayat to desist from taking revenge to the complainant.(v) The revised tax above 6 to 10% should be directed to be withdrawn.(vi) To allow the tax-payers to file appeal beyond the period of limitation by directing the opposite party to receive the same.(vii) To take action against the opposite party for violation of the directions of the High Court and Rule 68 of the Panchayat Manual.(viii) To declare that the Panchayat Committee is not competent as per the Panchayat Act and Rules to proclaim any document as a confidential record.3. In the complaint, the complainant elaborately described the circumstance and incidents under which he was forced to file such a complaint.4. The District Forum issued notice to the opposite party. Opposite party appeared and filed version contesting the complaint. The grounds of defence taken were that the complainant has no right to represent the people of the locality to file the petition seeking for publication of the assessment register. The revised tax register was duly published and the aggrieved tax-payers have filed revision petitions. The complainant did not file any revision or appeal. For the above reasons the complaint cannot be sustained.5. The complainant produced documents and examined witnesses in support of his case. However, without any detailed consideration of the grievance by a short order dated 6.5.1998 the Forum refused to grant all reliefs sought except directing cancellation of the tax of the complainant’s building above 6 to 10% of the earlier assessment.6. It is aggrieved by the above order that the complainant has come up in appeal.7. The appeal was posted for hearing on 13.1.1999. The appellant himself was present and argued the matter. The opposite party did not file any appeal from the portion of the order against them. Hence the scope of the appeal is limited to the remaining portion of the order. We went through the complaint, the evidence and argument note and the grounds taken in the appeal. We also heard the arguments of both the parties. We are of the opinion that the complainant had approached the wrong Forum for redressal of his grievances. The different directions requested for in the complaint are beyond the purview of the powers conferred on the Consumer FORA under the Consumer Protection Act. The complainant does not come within the definition of the term “consumer” under Section 2, Clause (d). He has neither purchased any goods nor hired any service for consideration from the opposite party. Sufficient safeguards are provided by way of appeal and revision before the superior authorities of the opposite party in case of dereliction of duty or breach of any rule of law. In case no relief is obtained from the Appellate Authorities the Forums to be approached are the regular Civil Courts including the High Court. Obviously the complainant has misunderstood the scope and ambit of the Consumer Protection Act.8. The learned Counsel for the respondent/ opposite party relied on certain decisions in support of his contention that the Consumer FORA are not competent to adjudicate tax matters. He referred to para 15 of the judgment reported in II (1994) CPJ 303, in which the Rajasthan Commission states that —“the power of taxation is a sovereign regal function then the same would stand poles apart from what is defined as a service under theAct and the hiring or availing of such a service for a consideration by a consumer - citizen. Indeed the two concepts appear to be geometrical opposites, or to use a term of art, they are antonyms”.9. The learned Counsel also referred to decisions reported in III (1993) CPJ 1526, II (1992) CPJ 396 (NC), I (1994) CPJ 99 (NC) and II (1992) CPJ 395 (NC). According to the National Commission in II (1992) CPJ 395 (NC) the payment of tax which goes into the general revenues of the State or Local Authorities will not legally constitute payment of consideration for any specific purpose. Thus the essence of the principles laid down in the above cases is that a resident of a Municipal Committee or a Local Authority paying taxes thereto is not a consumer within the meaning of the Act as regards the service rendered by the Municipal or Local Authorities.10. It is also submitted by the learned Counsel that all other aggrieved tax-payers except the complainant/appellant have filed revision petitions challenging the imposition of revised tax. We are of the opinion that there is no ground which calls our interference. The appeal is dismissed, however, without costs.

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