1. This revision petition has been filed by the petitioner-Indian Institute of Planning and Management-against the order dated 3.4.2019 of the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Delhi in FA No. 470 of 2018.
2. The brief facts of the case are that the respondent took admission in the petitioner’s institute and he was promised that the degree of BBA will be given from the Gulberga University. Due to some dispute which arose between the university and the institute, the degree from the Gulberga University could not be given to the petitioner and the degree was given from the Meghalaya University. Against this, a consumer complaint was filed by the respondent/ complainant being case No. 439 of 2013. The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum II, vide its order dated 6.5.2017 has ordered for refund of the fees along with 6% interest per annum. The petitioner institute preferred an appeal before the State Commission. The State Commission dismissed the appeal on the ground of limitation as there was a delay of about 1 years in filing the appeal.
3. Hence, the present revision petition.
4. Heard the learned Counsel for the petitioner who states that there is a delay of 24 days in filing the present revision petition. He has filed an application for condonation of delay, wherein, he has stated that the delay in filing the revision petition may be condoned.
5. Learned Counsel further states that the delay in filing the appeal before the State Commission had occurred due to the fact that the AR of the institute who was handling this case left without any instructions and without informing the pendency of cases to the institute. Hence, the institute could not take up this case in time, hence, the delay of 1 years in filing the appeal. He further states that the issue “whether the student is a consumer or not” is before a Larger Bench of this Commission, and therefore, the views taken by the District Forum that the student is a consumer cannot be considered as final, in view of this the revision petition may be accepted and decided after the decision of the Larger Bench.
6. I have carefully considered the arguments advanced by the learned Counsel for the petitioner and examined the material on record. The main issue is that whether the State Commission has rightly dismissed the appeal on the ground of limitation or not. Learned Counsel for the petitioner has not filed the application for condonation of delay along with the revision petition that was filed before the State Commission. However, as stated by him and as recorded by the State Commission that the condonation of delay was sought on the grounds that the AR of the institute has left without handing over the details of the cases and without informing the institute about the pendency of the cases. A party cannot absolve itself from monitoring the case which is pending against the party. Learned Counsel has further informed that the AR was not an employee of the institute and he was only engaged to look after these cases. It was all the more necessary for the institute to take charge from the AR and should have appointed another AR at the same time who could have taken up all the pending cases. This AR acted like an Advocate who was to take care of the case. In this regard, it is important to note that of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi at New Delhi, in the case of Moddus Media Pvt. Ltd. v. M/s. Scone Exhibition Pvt. Ltd., RFA No. 497 of 2017, decided on 18.5.2017, has held that:
“11. The litigant owes a duty to be vigilant of his rights and is also expected to be equally vigilant about the judicial proceedings pending in the Court of Law against him or initiated at his instance. The litigant cannot be permitted to cast the entire blame on the Advocate. It appears that the blame is being attributed on the Advocate with a view to get the delay condoned and avoid the decree. After filing the civil suit or written statement, the litigant cannot go off to sleep and wake up from a deep slumber after passing a long time as if the Court is storage of the suits filed by such negligent litigants. Putting the entire blame upon the Advocate and trying to make it out as if they were totally unaware of the nature or significance of the proceedings is a theory put forth by the appellant/applicant/defendant company, which cannot be accepted and ought not to have been accepted. The appellant is not a simple or rustic illiterate person but a Private Limited Company managed by educated businessmen, who know very well where their interest lies. The litigant is to be vigilant and pursue his case diligently on all the hearings. If the litigant does not appear in the Court and leaves the case at the mercy of his Counsel without caring as to what different frivolous pleas/defences being taken by his Counsel for adjournments is bound to suffer. If the litigant does not turn up to obtain the copies of judgment and orders of the Court so as to find out what orders are passed by the Court is liable to bear the consequences.”
7. Moreover Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Salil Dutta v. T.M. and M.C. Private Ltd., 1993 (SLT SOFT) 538=1993 SCR (1) 794 has held the following:
“The Advocate is the agent of the party. His acts and statements, made within the limits of authority given to him, are the acts and statements of the principal i.e. the party who engaged him. It is true that in certain situations, the Court may, in the interest of justice, set a side a dismissal order or an ex parte decree notwithstanding the negligence and/or misdemeanour of the Advocate where it finds that the client was an innocent litigant but there is not such absolute rule that a party can disown its Advocate at any time and seek relief. No such absolute immunity can be recognised. Such an absolute rule would make the working of the system extremely difficult. The observations made in Rafiq must be understood in the facts and circumstances of that case and cannot be understood as an absolute proposition. As we have mentioned hereinabove, this was an on-going suit posted for final hearing after a lapse of seven years of its institution. It was not a second appeal filed by a villager residing away from the city, where the Court is located. The defendant is also not a rustic ignorant villager but a private limited company with its head-office at Calcutta itself and managed by educated businessmen who know where their interest lies. It is evident that when their applications were not disposed of before taking up the suit for final hewing they felt piqued and refused to appear before the Court. May be, it was part of their delaying tactics as alleged by the plaintiff. May be not. But one thing is clear they chose to non-cooperate with the Court. Having adopted such a stand towards the Court, the defendant has no right to ask its indulgence. Putting the entire blame upon the Advocate and trying to make it out as if they were totally unaware of the nature or significance of the proceedings is a theory which cannot be accepted and ought not to have been accepted.”
8. From the above, it is clear that the parties are to be vigilant for monitoring the progress of their case pending in the Courts. Delay of one or two months could be understood as the AR left the institute, however, the delay of 1 years cannot be justified on this ground.
9. Moreover, special limitation periods have been provided under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 to settle the consumer disputes within a reasonable time. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Anshul Aggarwal v. New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, IV (2011) CPJ 63 (SC), has held that:
“It is also apposite to observe that while deciding an application filed in such cases for condonation of delay, the Court has to keep in mind that the special period of limitation has been prescribed under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 for filing appeals and revisions in consumer matters and the object of expeditious adjudication of the consumer disputes will get defeated if this Court was to entertain highly belated petitions filed against the orders of the Consumer Fora.”
10. In the case of R.B. Ramalingam v. R.B. Bhavaneshwari, I (2009) SLT 701=I (2009) CLT 188 (SC)=2009 (2) Scale 108, it has been observed:
“We hold that in each and every case the Court has to examine whether delay in filing the special appeal leave petitions stands properly explained. This is the basic test which needs to be applied. The true guide is whether the petitioner has acted with reasonable diligence in the prosecution of his appeal/petition.”
11. From the
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facts of the case and for the reasons in the application for condonation of delay, it is clear that the petitioner has not acted with reasonable diligence in pursuing his appeal. The above judgments are fully applicable on the petitioner and negligence, inaction and lack of bona fides are imputable to the petitioner in filing the appeal before the State Commission. 12. The reasons given in the application for condonation of delay in filing the appeal are not convincing and accordingly, I am of the view that the State Commission has rightly dismissed the application for condonation of delay. 13. Based on the above discussion I do not find any illegality, material irregularity or jurisdictional error in the order dated 3.4.2019 passed by the State Commission which calls for any interference from this Commission. Consequently, the revision petition No. 1852 of 2019 is dismissed at the admission stage. Revision Petition dismissed.