At, Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Thiruvananthapuram
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE L. MANOHARAN
By, THE HONOURABLE PROF. K. MADHURI LATHA
By, MEMBER & THE HONOURABLE MR. PROF. R. VIJAYAKRISHNAN
For the Petitioner: S. Reghukumar, Advocate. For the Respondent: None.
L. Manoharan, President:
1. Opposite party in O.P. No. 847/98 on the file of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Kollam is the revision petitioner.
2. Complainant’s case was that he had engaged the service of the opposite party for consideration for construction of his building, that the opposite party did not execute the work within reasonable time; neither did he complete the work a
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d made the building habitable. Therefore, he wanted compensation.3. In the version filed by the opposite party among other things he questioned the maintainability of the complaint on the ground that there is an arbitration clause in the agreement and in view of the same the Consumer Forum cannot take cognizance of the dispute.4. By this impugned order the District Forum over-ruled the preliminary objection raised by the opposite party and posted the case for evidence. The said order of the District Forum is under challenge at the hands of the opposite party.5. It is argued by the learned Counsel for the appellant that the view taken by the District Forum cannot be supported in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in M/s. Sundaram Finance Ltd. v. M/s. NEPC India Ltd. I (1999) SLT 179=AIR 1999 Supreme Court 565, wherein the Supreme Court observed that the provisions in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act (26 of 1996) have to be interpreted uninfluenced by the principles underlying the 1940 Arbitration Act. According to the learned Counsel in view of the said pronouncement of the Supreme Court, the decisions of the National Commission as to whether the existence of a clause of arbitration could oust the jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum on the basis of the 1940 Act cannot have any relevance. On the other hand the learned Counsel for the respondent/complainant sought to maintain that the decision of the Supreme Court cannot have application because the said decision does not consider a case under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. It is urged by the learned Counsel that inasmuch as the Supreme Court had no occasion to consider the effect of the Act 26/96 in relation to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, the decision in Sundaram Finance case (supra), cannot be taken to have been rendered in a matter arising under the Consumer Protection Act. Apart from the same it is urged that in view of the decision of the National Commission in Udaipur Cement Works v. Punjab Water Supply and Sewage, I (1999) CPJ 67 (NC), wherein, since the National Commission considered the effect of Section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act in relation to an arbitration clause, and held that mere existence of an arbitration clause will not oust the jurisdiction of the District Forum, the said decision applies and, therefore, the argument of the learned Counsel for the revision petitioner cannot be accepted.6. Section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act states that the provision of the Act is in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other Act for the time being in force. It is the said section that is interpreted by the National Commission in Udaipur Cement Worksv. Punjab Water Supply and Sewage, (supra), referred to early. In the said decision the National Commission held that “we are of the view that mere existence of an arbitration clause should not come in the way of an aggrieved party from seeking legitimate relief under the Consumer Protection Act which is a special piece of legislation to protect the interests of the consumers not withstanding the other laws in force”. As the decision of the Supreme Court in M/s. Sundaram Finance Ltd. v. NEPC India Ltd.(supra), does not consider the effect of Section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 in relation to the arbitration clause cannot be said, that the law as pronounced by the National Commission is over-ridden by the decision of the Supreme Court on that question. So long as that is the position we are bound to follow the decision of the National Commission in I (1999) CPJ 67, referred to early and consequently this revision is liable to be dismissed.7. In the result the revision petition fails and the same is dismissed.
"2001 (1) CLT 618" == "2000 (3) CPR 417" == "2001 (1) CPC 148" == "2000 (3) CPJ 298,"