This is an appeal filed under section 15of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 by the Opposite party in CC No.592/2019 on the file of District Consumer Forum-II, Hyderabad feeling aggrieved by orders dated 25.06.2019 in allowing the complaint of Complainant and directing the Opposite party to pay Rs. 1,00,000/- with interest @ 12% per annum with effect from 15.09.2017 till realization; to pay Rs. 15,000/- towards compensation for mental agony and trauma caused to Complainant; Rs. 5,000/- towards costs of the proceedings granting time of (30) days for compliance, failing which, amount of Rs. 1,00,000/- interest accrues @ 18% per annum from 04.09.2018 till realization.
2. For the sake of convenience, the parties are referred to as arrayed in the complaint.
3. The case of the Complainant, in brief, is that he is a businessman and unemployed graduate. In the month of September 2017, the Opposite party contacted him and proposed to sub-franchise opportunity for laundry services and dry cleaning services. Accordingly, an agreement was entered at Hyderabad on 15.09.2017 christened as Letter of Intent and paid an amount of Rs. 1,00,000/-. Thereafter, the Complainant made efforts to find suitable premises for V' clean team of work, but could not find suitable premises. Hence, Complainant intended to discontinue the franchise which was informed to Opposite party on 10.05.2018. On seeking to refund the amount of Rs. 1,00,000/-, the Opposite party failed to respond.
4. As per clause-5 of letter of intent, the Opposite party has to repay the advance amount, but the same is not paid. Hence, the Complainant sent a notice dated 17.06.2018 with a request to refund the amount, to which, there was no response. Hence, complaining deficiency in service, filed the present complaint with a prayer to direct the Opposite party to pay Rs. 1,00,000/- with interest @ 24% per annum and to pay costs of the proceedings.
5. On receipt of notice, one Mr. Mohan Krishna Chemuduru appeared on behalf of the Opposite party on 19.10.2018 but failed to file written version, hence, its right was forfeited.
6. During the course of enquiry before the District Forum, in order to prove his case, the Complainant got filed his evidence affidavit and the documents Exs.A1 to A 11.
7. The District Forum after considering the material available on record, allowed the complaint, as stated supra, at paragraph No. 1.
8. Aggrieved by the above orders, the Appellant/Opposite party preferred this appeal contending that the forum below failed to consider the fact the Complainant is not a consumer as commercial transaction is involved. It also failed to consider the fact that the Respondent himself withdrew from the franchise. Hence, prayed to allow the appeal by setting aside the orders impugned.
9. The point that arises for consideration is whether the impugned order as passed by the District Forum suffers from any error or irregularity or whether it is liable to be set aside, modified or interfered with, in any manner? To what relief ?
10. The Opposite party in CC No.327/2018 on the file of District Consumer Forum-II, Hyderabad preferred the appeal challenging the correctness of the orders dated 25.06.2019, by and under which the consumer complaint of the Respondent/Complainant was allowed directing the Appellant/Opposite party to (a) pay Rs. 1,00,000/- with interest @12% per annum w.e.f. 15.09.2017 till its realization. (b) pay Rs. 15,000/- towards compensation for mental agony and trauma caused to the complainant (c) pay Rs. 5,000/- towards costs of the proceedings granting time of 30 days for compliance, failing which, interest shall be accrued @ 18% per annum on the amount of Rs. 1,00,000/- with effect from 4th September, 2018 i.e., from the date of filing of the complaint till its realization.
11. When the appeal came-up for hearing and in view of the fact that the consumer complaint came to be disposed of uncontested and ex-parte, the learned counsel appearing for the Appellant/Opposite party as well as Respondent/Complainant submits that in the interest of justice, the main appeal may be disposed of and accordingly the arguments are heard.
12. Manifestly, the order that is suffered by the Appellant/Opposite party is an ex-parte order and the learned counsel appearing for the Appellant/Opposite party submits that on service of notice in the consumer complaint an employee of the Appellant/Opposite party appeared before the District Forum and subsequently did not participate in the proceedings he having left the job even without informing about the case to his employer, the Opposite party.
13. In view of the above, since the order is ex-parte, the interest of justice demand that an opportunity should be afforded to the Appellant/Opposite party to get the orders on merits. For the laches on the part of the Appellant suffice it if they are mulcted with costs.
14. In the result, the a
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ppeal is allowed and the order impugned is set aside subject to condition that the Appellant/Opposite party pays the costs of Rs. 10,000/- to the Respondent/Complainant within a period of six weeks from today, failing which, the appeal shall stand dismissed. On proof of payment of the costs before the District Forum, the District Forum shall restore the consumer complaint to its original number and make endeavour to dispose of the same as expeditiously as possible preferably within a period of six months from the date of the case being taken on file afresh.