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Max Life Insurance Company Limited v/s Naveen Gandhi


Company & Directors' Information:- MAX LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899PB2000PLC045626

Company & Directors' Information:- MAX INDIA LIMITED [Active] CIN = L85100PB2015PLC039155

Company & Directors' Information:- MAX INDIA LIMITED [Active] CIN = U85100PB2015PLC039155

Company & Directors' Information:- MAX CORPORATION LIMITED [Amalgamated] CIN = U24231PB1996PLC018766

Company & Directors' Information:- MAX INDIA LTD [Amalgamated] CIN = U24232PB1982PLC004841

Company & Directors' Information:- P G MAX PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U22219KL2012PTC031856

Company & Directors' Information:- MAX I. LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74999PB2016PLC045450

    Revision Petition No. 21 of 2014

    Decided On, 30 May 2014

    At, Union Territory Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission UT Chandigarh

    By, THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE SHAM SUNDER (RETD.)
    By, PRESIDENT & THE HONOURABLE MR. DEV RAJ
    By, MEMBER

    For the Petitioner: Rajneesh Malhotra, Advocate. For the Respondent: Anil Mehra, Advocate.



Judgment Text

Sham Sunder (Retd.), President:

1. This Revision petition is directed against the order dated 04.04.2014, rendered by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum-I, U.T., Chandigarh (hereinafter to be called as the District Forum only) vide which, the Opposite Party (now Revision-Petitioner), was proceeded against exparte.

2. The facts of the Consumer Complaint bearing No.41 of 2014, are that the Agent of the Opposite Party contacted the complainant, and allured her, to get her money invested, in the Insurance Policy, namely Life Partner Plus Limited Pay Endowment to Age 75 Plan, for which she would have to pay only one premium, to the tune of Rs.33,232/-. On such allurement of the Agent of the Opposite Party, the complainant took the said Policy, and paid premium to the tune of Rs.33,232/-. It was stated that the terms and conditions of the Policy, were neither shown nor explained to the complainant, by the Opposite Party, at the time of obtaining the same. It was further stated that, after a year of issuance of the same (Policy), it was found by the complainant that the said Policy, did not meet her requirement. It was further stated that even the Agent of the Opposite Party made numerous cuttings, in the proposal form, for which the consent of the complainant was never taken. It was further stated that the complainant made a request to the Opposite Party, to cancel the said Policy, and refund the amount of premium, paid by her, towards the same, but it refused to do so. It was further stated that letter dated 28.09.2011, in this regard was also sent by the complainant, to the Opposite Party, but except vague reply dated 27.06.2012, no positive response was given. It was further stated that the Policy, in question, was sold to the complainant, by way of misrepresentation of facts, and, as such, the Opposite Party was liable to cancel the same, and refund the premium amount, to her, but it did not do so, thereby causing mental agony, physical harassment, and financial loss to her (complainant). It was further stated that the complainant approached the Opposite Party, through every possible means, for redressal of her grievance, but to no avail. It was further stated that the aforesaid acts of the Opposite Party, amounted to deficiency, in rendering service, as also indulgence into unfair trade practice. When the grievance of the complainant, was not redressed, left with no alternative, a complaint under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (hereinafter to be called as the Act only), was filed, claiming various reliefs.

3. The complaint was admitted, by the District Forum, on 04.02.2014, whereafter, notice was issued to the Opposite Party, through registered A.D. cover, for 20.03.2014. On 20.03.2014, Ms. Jamini Tiwari, Advocate, put in appearance, and filed her memo of appearance, on behalf of the Opposite Party. The Consumer Complaint was adjourned to 04.04.2014, for filing vakalatnama,written version, and evidence, by way of affidavit, on behalf of the Opposite Party, as also for reply and consideration, on the application, moved by the Counsel for the complainant, for production of certain documents, on record. However, on 04.04.2014, none put in appearance, on behalf of the Opposite Party, as a result whereof, it was proceeded against exparte, and the Consumer Complaint was adjourned to 23.04.2014, for exparte arguments of the complainant.

4. Later on, an application for setting aside the exparte order dated 04.04.2014, was filed by the Counsel for the Opposite Party, which was, ultimately, dismissed on 09.05.2014, by the District Forum, holding that it (District Forum), was not vested with the power to review/recall its own order.

5. Feeling aggrieved, the instant Revision-Petition, was filed by the Revision-Petitioner/Opposite Party, against the order dated 04.04.2014.

6. We have heard the Counsel for the parties, and have gone through the record of the case, carefully.

7. Sh. Rajneesh Malhotra, Counsel for the Revision-Petitioner/Opposite Party, who was also the main Counsel, in the Consumer Complaint, submitted that, no doubt, on 20.03.2014, the same (Consumer Complaint) was adjourned to 04.04.2014, for filing vakalatnama, written version, and evidence, by way of affidavit, on behalf of the Opposite Party, as also for reply and consideration, on the application aforesaid. He further submitted that he (Sh. Rajneesh Malhotra, Advocate) could not put in appearance, in the District Forum, on 04.04.2014, on account of the reason that he had to appear, in a case, titled as NIC Vs. Ajay Mehra, First Appeal No.905 of 2013, listed before the Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh, which took some time. He further submitted that when he (Sh. Rajneesh Malhotra, Advocate), reached the District Forum, after attending the case, aforesaid, the Reader of the District Forum informed him that the Opposite Party had been proceeded against exparte, as none put in appearance, on its behalf, when the case was called. He further submitted that, later on, an application for setting aside the exparte order dated 04.04.2014, was filed by the Opposite Party, in the District Forum, which was dismissed on 09.05.2014, holding that it (District Forum), was not vested with the power to review/recall its own order. He further submitted that his absence, on behalf of the Opposite Party, on the date fixed, in the District Forum, was neither intentional, nor deliberate, but for the reason, aforesaid. It was further submitted that, in case, the order impugned is not set aside, irreparable injury is likely to occasion, to the Revision-Petitioner/Opposite Party, as, in that event, it would be condemned unheard. He further submitted that, thus, the order of the District Forum, in proceeding exparte against the Opposite Party, being illegal, is liable to be set aside

8. On the other hand, the Counsel for the respondent/complainant, submitted that the absence of the Counsel for the Revision-Petitioner/Opposite Party, on 04.04.2014, in the District Forum, was intentional and deliberate. He further submitted that, no cogent and convincing material was produced, on record, by the Counsel for the Revision-Petitioner (Counsel in the complaint also), to establish, that he had to appear, in the case aforesaid, before the Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, on the date fixed i.e. 04.04.2014, which prevented him, from causing his appearance, in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (I), U.T., Chandigarh, on the said date. He further submitted that the order of the District Forum, being legal, is liable to be upheld.

9. Perusal of the record of the District Forum reveals that the complaint was admitted, vide order dated 04.02.2014, and notice was ordered to be issued to the Opposite Party, for 20.03.2014, by it (District Forum). On 20.03.2014, memo of appearance, on behalf of the Opposite Party was filed. The complaint was adjourned to 04.04.2014, for filing of vakalatnama, written reply and evidence, on behalf of the Opposite Party, as also for reply and consideration, on the application, moved by the Counsel for the complainant, for production of certain documents, on record. However, on 04.04.2014, none put in appearance, on behalf of the Opposite Party, as a result whereof, it was proceeded against exparte, and the Consumer Complaint was adjourned to 23.04.2014, for exparte arguments of the complainant. However, as stated above, later on, an application for setting aside the exparte order dated 04.04.2014, was filed by the Opposite Party, which was, ultimately, dismissed on 09.05.2014, by the District Forum, holding that it (District Forum), was not vested with the power to review/recall its own order.

10. It may be stated here, that it is settled principle of law, that every lis should normally be decided, on merits, than by resorting to hyper-technicalities. When hyper-technicalities, and the substantial justice, are pitted against each other, then the latter shall prevail over the former. The procedure, is, in the ultimate, the handmaid of justice, meant to advance the cause thereof, than to thwart the same. In State of Punjab and another vs. Shamlal Murari & Anr., AIR 1976 SC 1177, the principle of law, laid down, was to the effect, that procedure, is, in the ultimate handmaid of justice, and not its mistress and is meant to advance its cause, and not to obstruct the same. The procedural Rule, therefore, has to be liberally construed, and care must be taken, that so strict interpretation be not placed thereon, whereby, technicality may tend to triumph over justice. It has to be kept in mind, that an overly strict construction of procedural provisions, may result in the stifling of material evidence, of a party, even if, for adequate reasons, which may be beyond its control. We must always remember that procedural law, is not an obstruction, but an aid to justice. Procedural prescriptions are the hand-maid, and not the mistress, a lubricant, not a resistant, in the administration of justice. If the breach can be corrected, without injury to the just disposal of a case, regulatory requirement should not be enthroned into a dominant desideratum. The Courts and the quasi-Judicial Tribunals, have been set up, with the sole purpose of dispensing justice, and not to wreck the end result, on technicalities.

11. No doubt, there was negligence, on the part of the Counsel for the Opposite Party, as it was required of him, to reach the District Forum, when the complaint was called. On the other hand, if on 04.04.2014, he was busy in the Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh, in some case, and was unable to come present, on the date fixed, in the alternative, he could have instructed his Junior Counsel, to put in appearance, and file his (Sh. Rajneesh Malhotra, Counsel)vakalatnama, written version and evidence, on behalf of the Opposite Party, or request the District Forum, to give a short date, for the purpose, but he failed to do so. Since, the Counsel for the Opposite Party, did not take the requisite measures, referred to above, negligence was attributable to him. It is settled principle of law, that for the negligence or inadvertence of the Counsel, the party should not suffer. In our considered opinion, an opportunity should be afforded to the Opposite Party, for filing vakalatnama, written version, and evidence, by way of affidavit(s), so that the complaint could be decided, on merits, and the rights of the Parties, are finally determined, by one Forum, one way or the other. In this view of the matter, the order impugned is liable to be set aside. No doubt, for, whatsoever, the reason may be, by not filing vakalatnama, written version, alongwith evidence, by way of affidavit, the Opposite Party/Revision-Petitioner, certainly caused delay, in the disposal of the complaint, on merits.

12. According to Section 13 (3A) of the Act, every complaint is required to be decided, within three months, from the date of service of the Opposite Party, except the one, in which the goods are required to be sent to the Laboratory for examination. In that event, the complaint is required to be decided, within a period of 5 months, from the date of service of the Opposite Party(s). The complaint was filed, in the District Forum, on 17.01.2014. A period of three months has already lapsed, much earlier. The Revision-Petitioner, is, thus, required to be burdened with costs, to meet the ends of justice.

13. No other point, was urged, by the Counsel for the parties.

14. Fo

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r the reasons recorded above, the Revision- Petition is accepted. The order dated 04.04.2014, rendered by the District Forum, is set aside, subject to payment of costs of Rs.2000/-, by the Revision-Petitioner/Opposite Party, to the complainant/respondent. The District Forum shall grant only one reasonable opportunity to the Opposite Party, for filing vakalatnama, written reply, alongwith evidence, by way of affidavit(s), and, thereafter, decide the complaint, on merits, in accordance with the provisions of law. The payment of costs to the tune of Rs.2000/-, referred to above, to the complainant/respondent, shall be a condition precedent. In other words, the payment of costs, shall be made, before filing vakalatnama, written reply, alongwith evidence, by way of affidavit(s). 15. The parties are directed to appear, before District Forum (I) on 04.06.2014 at 10.30 A.M., for further proceedings. 16. The District Forum record, alongwith a certified copy of the order, be sent back to it, immediately, so as to reach there, well before the date and time fixed i.e. 04.06.2014 at 10.30 A.M. 17. Certified Copies of this order, be sent to the parties, free of charge. 18. The Revision Petition file be consigned to the Record Room, after due completion.
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