Dr. S.M. Kantikar, Presiding Member
1. The present Revision Petition is against the impugned order dated 26.09.2013 of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Bhopal (for short “State Commission”) whereby the appeal by the complainant was partly allowed.
2. The issue is the determination of compensation if the consumer is victim of unfair trade practice.
3. Brief facts are that the complainant purchased a car from the M/s. Star Automobiles Ltd with an assurance that model was of year 2011 and its average will be 24 km/ltr. The complainant paid Rs. 5,65,000/- as price of the car. On verification it was noticed that the vehicle was manufactured in August, 2010 and not giving the mileage as promised. Therefore, alleging deficiency on the part of the OPs, the complainant filed a complaint in the District Forum, Katni (M.P.).
4. The complaint was resisted by the OPs by filing their respective replies and denied the allegations.
5. The District Forum, after hearing both the parties dismissed the complaint as the complainant failed to prove any deficiency in service of the OPs.
6. The complainant appealed in the State Commission. The appeal was partly allowed by the State Commission holding the OP-1 Star Automobiles, guilty of unfair trade practice and vide its Order dated 26.09.2013 directed the OP-1 to pay Rs. 5,000/- to the complainant within a month failing which it shall bear interest @ 9 % from the date of this order.
7. Being aggrieved by the order of the State Commission, the complainant approached this Commission.
8. There is a delay of 55 days in filing the present Revision Petition. For the reasons stated in the application for condonation of delay and in the interest of justice, the delay of 55 days is condoned.
9. We have heard the learned counsel for both the parties and perused the material on record.
10. This case is the glaring example of Unfair Trade Practice from the vehicle dealer. On perusal of record we are surprised to note that the dealer issued two Sale Certificates for one vehicle mentioning different month and year of manufacture. Admittedly, the vehicle was manufactured in 2010 (Model: 2010) but sold in 2011.
11. It is pertinent to note that, the complainant is 74 years old, resident of Katni. The incidence was of 2011, now we are in 2020. The complaint suffered monetary loss and mental agony due to such unfair act of OP-1, however we note the State Commission’s award of Rs. 5000/- is very meagre and is not just and adequate in the ends of justice.
12. We upheld and affirm the unfair trade practice as determined by the State Commission in its impugned order dated 26.09.2013. The unfairness is writ large committed by the OP-1 dealer and it should be dealt with stern hand.
13. In respect of the said unfair trade practice, the OP-1 dealer is put to stern advice of caution through imposition of cost of Rs. 2,00,000/- to be paid to the complainant and cost of Rs. 50,000/- to be deposited in the Consumer Legal Aid Account of the District Forum within four weeks from today, failing which it shall attract interest at the rate of 9% per annum after expiry of four weeks from today till its actual realisation.
14. Hence, disposed off.
Per Hon’ble Mr. Dinesh Singh, Member
15. In the interest of justice, considering the reasons stated in the application for condonation of delay, and in order to settle the matter on merit, the delay in filing the Petition is condoned.
16. The short point in this case is that the Complainant, the Petitioner herein, purchased a car from the Dealer, the Respondent No. 1 herein, in June 2011. The Dealer delivered a car manufactured in August 2010, after conveying and making to understand that it was manufactured in the year of sale i.e. 2011. That is to say, when payment of the entire consideration amount was made in June 2011, a car of the make 2010 was delivered to the Complainant, rather than a car of the make of the year of sale i.e. of the make 2011.
17. The District Forum dismissed the Complaint.
In Appeal filed by the Complainant, the State Commission appraised the evidence and vide its impugned Order dated 26.09.2013 conclusively determined that a car of the make August 2010 was delivered in June 2011, when it was conveyed and understood that it would be of the make 2011. The State Commission held the Dealer liable for ‘unfair trade practice’, and awarded a sum of Rs. 5,000/- to the Complainant, to be paid within one month, failing which it would carry interest at the rate of 9% per annum.
The Complainant filed the instant Petition before this Commission, seeking enhancement in compensation.
18. From the record placed before this Commission, it is noted that the Complainant made payment of a sum of Rs.5,65,000/- to the Dealer vide a demand draft dated 24.06.2011. A Retail Invoice dated 25.06.2011, issued by the Dealer, shows the total consideration amount (inclusive of all accessories) to be Rs. 5,65,000/-.
As such, the Complainant paid the entire consideration amount to the Dealer in June 2011.
The Dealer issued a Sale Certificate dated 25.06.2011 in which the “Month, Year of manufacturer” was written as “August, 2010”. The Dealer subsequently issued another Sale Certificate dated 25.06.2011 in which the “Month, Year of manufacture” was written as “JUNE, 2011”.
As such, it is well evinced that a car manufactured in August 2010 was delivered in June 2011, and, on the Complainant objecting, an ex facie suspicious second Sale Certificate was issued (dated the very same day as of the first Certificate) in which the month and year of manufacture were shown to be June 2011.
19. The State Commission has succinctly appraised the case in para 4 of its impugned Order:
4. However, the two certificates issued by the dealer-respondent No. 1, in respect of description of the vehicle and in both different dates of manufacturing having been mentioned, it is a clear case where the dealer tried to pass on a vehicle of old model as current model and thereafter to patch up this misconduct, he issued another certificate/invoice showing that the vehicle was manufactured in June, 2011. Thus, an old model car was passed on as a merchandise of the year 2011, which was not true. We find that the dealer-respondent No. 1-, Star Automobiles, is guilty of unfair trade practice and is liable to pay compensation to the appellant.
20. In respect of the facts of the case the State Commission has passed a well-appraised and well-reasoned Order, no palpable error in appreciating the evidence is visible.
21. It may be noted here that ‘unfair trade practice’ is a specific provision unique to The Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Section 2(1)(r) says of “a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or unfair or deceptive practice including any of the following practices, namely:-”.
The list provided in Section 2(1)(r) is illustrative and not comprehensive.
That is to say, an unfair method or unfair or deceptive practice, as is judiciously determined, on fact and reason, on fair and objective appraisal of the evidence and material on record, would qualify as ‘unfair trade practice’ within the meaning of Section 2(1)(r).
In the instant case, on obtaining the total consideration for a new car in June 2011, the selling of an old car of the make August 2010, when it was conveyed and understood that the car would be of the make of the year of sale i.e. of the make 2011, is decidedly unfair and deceptive within the meaning of Section 2(1)(r).
22. In addition to ‘deficiency in service’ within the meaning of Section 2(1)(g) & (o) of the Act 1986, ‘unfair trade practice’ within the meaning of Section 2(1)(r) is well and truly evident.
23. It may also be noted that this is one particular instance that has come to notice before the Consumer Protection Fora. The eventuality of other such instances, with other ‘consumer’(s), as an intermittent or regular practice, cannot be ruled out.
24. All this is not viewed favourably.
25. On the basis of the examination made hereinabove, the findings and Award are firmed-up as below:
[a] The State Commission’s impugned Order is modified to the extent that the Dealer is unequivocally held liable for both ‘deficiency in service’ and ‘unfair trade practice’.
It may be added that the liability qua the Complainant initiated the day he paid the full consideration amount for a new car to the Dealer, and it continues, as a continuing wrong.
[b] The Award made by the State Commission is modified to the extent that the Dealer shall pay a sum of Rs. 2 lakh to the Complainant, to compensate him for his loss and injury, within four weeks of the pronouncement of this Order.
In addition, the Dealer is put to stern advice of caution through imposition of cost of Rs. 50,000/-, which shall be deposited in the Consumer Legal Aid Account of the District Forum within four weeks of the pronouncement of this Order.
The afore shall carry interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of expiry of four weeks from the date of pronouncement of this Order till the date of actual realisation.
[c] The Manufacturer, the Respondent No. 2 herein, through its Chief Exec
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utive, is ordered under Section 14(1)(f) of the Act 1986 to most immediately pass appropriate directions to all its dealers to ensure that such unfair and deceptive acts are forthwith discontinued by its dealers, and ‘consumer’(s) are not put to such loss and injury. The Chief Executive is also advised to imbibe accountability and systemic improvements for future. The Chief Executive shall furnish a report-in-compliance to the District Forum within eight weeks of the pronouncement of this Order. 26. For failure or omission in compliance, within the respective stipulated period, the District Forum shall undertake execution, for ‘Enforcement’ under Section 25(3) and for ‘Penalties’ under Section 27 of the Act 1986, as per the law. 27. A copy each of this Order be sent by the Registry [a] to the District Forum, [b] to the Complainant, the Petitioner herein, [c] to the Dealer, the Respondent No. 1 herein, and [d] to the Chief Executive of the Manufacturer, the Respondent No. 2 herein, within three days of its pronouncement.