Paramjeet Singh Dhaliwal, President
1. This order will dispose of the above noted seven revision petitions, as the questions of law and facts involved therein are the same and the same have been filed by the petitioners/opposite parties against the similar orders passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Ludhiana (in short, 'the District Forum'), whereby the applications filed by them for referring the matter to the Arbitrator for arbitration were dismissed. The facts are taken from R.P. No.37 of 2017.
2. For the sake of brevity, I do not deem it necessary to mention averments in the revision petition. However, the relevant averments are being referred to herein. Petitioner-company is in the business of real estate development and is developing a Commercial Project named 'Indian International Habitat Centre', at Ludhiana. Respondent/Complainant booked a furnished office space, vide application dated 12.12.2011. As per terms and conditions of the agreement, the possession of the unit/office space was to be delivered to the allottee approximately on 31.12.2014. But the possession was not delivered. Alleging deficiency in service the complainant filed Consumer Complaint under the Consumer Protection Act before the District Forum. The agreement was signed between the petitioners as well as the complainant. The petitioner has relied upon clause 30 of the agreement dated 12.12.2011 which reads as under:-
'30. All the disputes and differences whatsoever arising pursuant to the transaction or as a consequence of the allottee(s) entering into this transaction with the Company the same shall be referred to arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 or such enactment as may be applicable/enforcement. The venue of the Arbitration Proceedings shall exclusively be held at Ludhiana(Punjab)'.
3. In pursuance of the agreement, the complainant has paid some instalments, detail of which is not necessary for the decision of this petition. An application was moved by the petitioners/OPs before the District Forum, claiming that the provisions of the Arbitration Act are mandatory in nature and, as such, the matter should be referred for arbitration. Notice of the application was given and reply to the same was filed by the complainant, taking objection that application has been filed at very later stage. This objection was not taken in the written statement as per law. Even if there is arbitration clause in the agreement, still the complaint is maintainable under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (in short, 'the Act of 1986'). It was prayed that the application be dismissed. After hearing the counsel for the parties the District Forum dismissed application. Hence, this revision petition.
4. I have heard the learned counsel for the petitioners and perused the record.
5. Learned counsel for the petitioners vehemently contends that the terms 'Consumer' and 'Service' have been defined in Section 2(1) (d) and 2(1)(o) of the Act of 1986. For all the disputes arise between the parties out of 'buyer’s agreement' there is an Arbitration clause contained in clause 30 of the agreement and the case should be referred to the arbitration and the proceedings under the consumer complaint under the Act of 1986 does not lie. It is further contended that by the learned counsel for the petitioners that the matter is pending before the National Commission on identical issues before a larger Bench. In this regard he relies uponAshok Sadarangani and Anr. V. Union of Indiaand Ors. AIR 2012 Supreme Court 1563,Manager, National Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Saju P.Paul and Anr.AIR 2013 Supreme Court 1064 and Anr. AIR 2009 SC (Supp) 1977.
6. I have given a thoughtful consideration to the contentions advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioners.
7. In the light of the argument addressed by the learned counsel for the petitioners, the following questions arise for consideration.
1. Whether this Commission should stay the proceedings till the matter is decided by the larger Bench of the Hon’ble National Commission with regard to the identical issues that is the applicability of the arbitration provisions in the Consumer complaint?
2. Whether the Consumer Forum/fora constituted under the Act of 1986 is bound to refer the dispute raised in the complaint to arbitration, once an application under Section 8 read with Section 5 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 is filed by the opposite party(s) in view of the valid arbitration agreement between the parties?
In Re: (Question No.1)
8. In this respect, it is pertinent to mention that though the matter has been referred to the larger Bench of the Hon’ble National Commission and the decision is yet to come. Learned counsel submitted that since decision is yet to come, so the matter may be kept pending.
9. In Ashok Sadarangani (supra), Hon’ble Supreme Court in para 19 has observed that pendency of a reference to a larger Bench would not mean that all other proceedings involving a similar issue should remain stayed till a decision was rendered in the reference. It was further observed that till the decisions rendered earlier were not modified or altered in any way, they continued to hold the field. Similarly, InManager, National Insurance Company Ltd.(supra) the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that mere pendency of certain questions before a larger Bench would not mean that the particular course that was followed in earlier judgments could not be followed.
10. In Sudhakar Rao Vs. V. Govinda Rao (2013) 8 SCC 693,the Hon’ble Supreme Court in para 55 observed as under:
'Be that as it may, the pendency of a similar matter before a larger Bench has not prevented this Court from dealing with the issue on merits. Even on earlier occasions, the pendency of the matter before the larger Bench did not prevent this Court from dealing with the issue on merits. Indeed, a few cases including Pawan Pratap Singh were decided even after the issue raised in Asis Kumar Samanta was referred to a larger Bench. ig. we, therefore, do not feel constrained or precluded from taking a view in the matter.'
11. Similarly, inState of Maharashtra Vs. Sarva Shramik Sangh, Sangli AIR 2014 SC 61a prayer for postponing consideration of the proceedings was made due to pendency of reference before a larger bench. Hon’ble Supreme Court in para 20 observed as under:
'20. As noted earlier, the reconsideration of the wide interpretation of the concept of 'industry' in Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (supra) is pending before a larger bench of this Court. However, as of now we will have to follow the interpretation of law presently holding the field as per the approach taken by this Court in State of Orissa v. Dandasi Sahu (supra), referred to above. The determination of the present pending industrial dispute cannot be kept undecided until the judgment of the larger bench is received.'12. In view of above discussion,Question No.1is answered is negative, with the observations that till the decision of the larger Bench is delivered, the matters cannot be kept pending and they are to be decided as per law existed on the date of hearing.
In Re: Question No.2
13. Before dealing with the question involved, it would be appropriate to refer to the aims and objects of Act of 1986. The Act of 1986 in its preamble states as follows:-
'An Act to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumer’s disputes and for matters connected therewith.'
14. A perusal of preamble to the Act of 1986 shows that it is meant to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and for that purpose makes provision for establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumer disputes and for matters connected therewith. The salient features of the Consumer Protection Bill were to promote and protect the rights of consumers such as:-
'(a) The right to be protected against marketing of goods which are hazardous to life and property;
(b) The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods, to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;
(c) The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to an authority of goods at competitive prices;
(d) The right to be heard and to be assured that consumers interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;
(e) The right to seek Redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers, and
(f) Right to consumer education.'
15. Section 2 of the Act of 1986 contains the definition of various terms. Clause (d) and (f) read as under:-
'2 (d) ‘consumer’ means any person who,-
(i) buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment when such use is made with the approval of such person, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for anycommercial purpose; or
(ii) hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first-mentioned person but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial purpose;
Explanation.-For the purposes of sub-clause (i), ‘commercial purpose’ does not include use by a consumer of goods bought and used by him exclusively for the purpose of earning his livelihood, by means of self-employment;
xxxx xxxx xxxx
(f) ‘defect’ means any fault, imperfection or shortcoming in the quality, quantity, potency, purity or standard which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or under any contract, express or implied, or as is claimed by the trader in any manner whatsoever in relation to any goods.'
16. The Act of 1986 for the redressal of the genuine grievances of consumers has set up an elaborate redressal mechanism at District, State and National levels to deal with the matters relating to defect in goods within the meaning of Section 2 (f), deficiency in service under Section 2(g), restrictive trade practice under Section 2 (nnn) and unfair trade practice under Section 2(r) of the Act. By establishing the Consumer Fora, the legislature has provided a special remedy for the redressal of the said wrongs, which is in addition to the remedy already provided under the Code of Civil Procedure and the MRTP Act (now known as Competition Act). The remedy provided under the Act of 1986 is a special remedy with the object of redressal of the grievance of the affected consumers in an expeditious and non-expensive manner. The Arbitration Act, 1996 has not taken away the said remedy.
17. Section 3 declares that the provisions of the Act of 1986 shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force. Section 9 provides for establishment of the Consumer Fora at the District, State and National levels. Section 11 relates to jurisdiction of the District Forum. Section 12 prescribed the manner in which the complaint can be filed before the District Forum and the procedure required to be followed for entertaining the same.
18. The scope and reach of the Act of 1986 has been considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in catena of judgments, some of the important ones are:Lucknow Development Authority v. M.K. Gupta(1994) 1 SCC 243,Fair Air Engineers (P) Ltd. vs. N. K. Modi(1996) 6 SCC 385,Skypay Couriers Limited v. Tata Chemicals Limited(2000) 5 SCC 294,State of Karnataka vs. Vishwabharathi House Building Cooperative Society(2003) 2 SCC 412,CCI Chambers Cooperative Housing Society Limited Vs. Development Credit Bank Limited(2003) 7 SCC 233,Secretary, Thirumurugan Cooperative Agricultural Credit Society Vs. M. Lalitha(2004) 1 SCC 305, H.N. ShankaraShastry Vs. Assistant Director of Agriculture, Karnataka(2004) 6 SCC 230.
19. InM.Lalitha’s case (supra),Hon'ble Supreme Court noticed the background, the object and reasons and the purpose for which the Act of 1986 was enacted. After referring to its earlier judgments inM.K. Gupta’s case (supra)andN.K. Modi’s case (supra), the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed as under:-
'11. The preamble of the Act declares that it is an Act to provide for better protection of the interest of consumers and for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of Consumer Councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumer disputes and matters connected therewith. In Section 3 of the Act in clear and unambiguous terms it is stated that the provisions of the 1986 Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.
12. From the Statement of Objects and Reasons and the scheme of the 1986 Act, it is apparent that the main objective of the Act is to provide for better protection of the interest of the consumer and for that purpose to provide for better redressal, mechanism through which cheaper, easier, expeditious and effective redressal is made available to consumers. To serve the purpose of the Act, various quasi-judicial forums are set up at the district, State and national level with wide range of powers vested in them. These quasi-judicial forums, observing the principles of natural justice, are empowered to give relief of a specific nature and to award, wherever appropriate, compensation to the consumers and to impose penalties for non-compliance with their orders.'
20. InKishori Lal Vs. Chairman, Employees’ State Insurance Corporation2007(5) Recent Apex Judgments (R.A.J.) 68, the Hon'ble Supreme Court held as under:-
'17..........The trend of the decisions of this Court is that the jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum should not and would not be curtailed unless there is an express provision prohibiting the Consumer Forum to take up the matter which falls within the jurisdiction of civil court or any other forum as established under some enactment. The Court had gone to the extent of saying that if two different fora have jurisdiction to entertain the dispute in regard to the same subject, the jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum would not be barred and the power of the Consumer Forum to adjudicate upon the dispute could not be negated.'
21. The definition of ‘consumer’ contained in Section 2 (1) (d) of the Act of 1986, which is reproduced in the earlier part of the judgment, is very wide. Sub Clause (i) of the definition takes within its fold any person who buys any goods for a consideration paid or provided to be paid or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment. It also includes any person who uses the goods though he may not be buyer thereof, provided that such use is with the approval of the buyer. The last part of the definition contained in Section 2 (d) (i) excludes a person from the definition of ‘consumer’ who obtains the goods for resale or for any commercial purpose. By virtue of the explanation which was added by Amendment Act 62 of 2002, it has been clarified that the expression ‘commercial purpose’ used in sub clause (i) does not include use by a consumer of goods bought and used by him for the purpose of earning his livelihood by means of self-employment.
22. I will now notice some of the relevant Sections of the Arbitration Act, 1996 which read as under:-
'5.Extent of judicial intervention.-
Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, in matters governed by this Part, no judicial authority shall intervene except where so provided in this Part.
(1) In this Part, "arbitration agreement" means an agreement by the parties to submit to arbitration all or certain disputes which have arisen or which may arise between them in respect of a defined legal relationship, whether contractual or not.
(2) An arbitration agreement may be in the form of an arbitration clause in a contract or in the form of a separate agreement.
(3) An arbitration agreement shall be in writing.
(4) An arbitration agreement is in writing if it is contained in:-
(a) a document signed by the parties;
(b) an exchange of letters, telex, telegrams or other means of telecommunication which provide a record of the agreement; or
(c) an exchange of statements of claim and defence in which the existence of the agreement is alleged by one party and not denied by the other.
(5) The reference in a contract to a document containing an arbitration clause constitutes an arbitration agreement if the contract is in writing and the reference is such as to make that arbitration clause part of the contract.
8. Power to refer parties to arbitration where there is an arbitration agreement.-
(1) A judicial authority before which an action is brought in a matter which is the subject of an arbitration agreement shall, if a party so applies not later than when submitting his first statement on the substance of the dispute, refer the parties to arbitration.
(2) The application referred to in sub-section (1) shall not be entertained unless it is accompanied by the original arbitration agreement or a duly certified copy thereof.
(3) Notwithstanding that an application has been made under sub-section (1) and that the issue is pending before the judicial authority, an arbitration may be commenced or continued and an arbitral award made.'
23. I have noticed in brief from some of the important judgments of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, wherein Section 3 of Act of 1986 and Section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1940, which is analogous to Section 8 of Arbitration Act, 1996, have been taken into consideration.
24. InN.K. Modi’s case (supra),the Hon'ble Supreme Court after taking into consideration the provisions of the Act of 1986, Arbitration Act, 1996 and Arbitration Act, 1940 held as under:
'15. Accordingly, it must be held that the provisions of the Act are to be construed widely to give effect to the object and purpose of the Act. It is seen that Section 3 envisages that the provisions of the Act are in addition to and are not in derogation of any other law in force. It is true, as rightly contended by Shri Suri, that the words 'in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force' would be given proper meaning and effect and if the complaint is not stayed and the parties are not relegated to the arbitration, the Act purports to operate in derogation of the provisions of the Arbitration Act. Prima facie, the contention appears to be plausible but on construction and conspectus of the provisions of the Act we think that the contention is not well founded. Parliament is aware of the provisions of the Arbitration Act and the Contract Act and the consequential remedy available under Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, i.e., to avail of right of civil action in a competent court of civil jurisdiction. Nonetheless, the Act provides the additional remedy.
16. It would, therefore, be clear that the legislature intended to provide a remedy in addition to the consentient arbitration which could be enforced under the Arbitration Act or the civil action in a suit under the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure. Thereby, as seen, Section 34 of the Act does not confer an automatic right nor create an automatic embargo on the exercise of the power by the judicial authority under the Act. It is a matter of discretion. Considered from this perspective, we hold that though the District Forum, State Commission and National Commission are judicial authorities, for the purpose of Section 34 of the Arbitration Act, in view of the object of the Act and by operation of Section 3 thereof, we are of the considered view that it would be appropriate that these forums created under the Act are at liberty to proceed with the matters in accordance with the provisions of the Act rather than relegating the parties to an arbitration proceedings pursuant to a contract entered into between the parties. The reason is that the Act intends to relieve the consumers of the cumbersome arbitration proceedings or civil action unless the forums on their own and on the peculiar facts and circumstances of a particular case, come to the conclusion that the appropriate forum for adjudication of the disputes would be otherwise those given in the Act.'
25. InSkypay Couriers Ltd.’s case (supra),the Hon'ble Supreme Court again in the context of Arbitration Act, 1940 observed as under :-
'2......... Even if there exists an arbitration clause in an agreement and a complaint is made by the consumer, in relation to a certain deficiency of service, then the existence of an arbitration clause will not be a bar to the entertainment of the complaint by the Redressal Agency, constituted under the Consumer Protection Act, since the remedy provided under the Act is in addition to the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.'26. InTrans Mediterranean’ Airways vs. M/s. Univeral Exports and another2011(1) SCC 316, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed as under:-
'32.In our view, the protection provided under the CP Act to consumers is in addition to the remedies available under any other statute. It does not extinguish the remedies under another statute but provides an additional or alternative remedy.......'
27. InN.K. Modi’s case (supra)andSkypay Courier’s Case (supra), the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the context of the provisions of the Act of 1986 and in particular Section 3 of the Act of 1986 and Arbitration Act of 1940 has held that the Consumer Fora created under the Act of 1986 are at liberty to proceed with the matter in accordance with the provisions of the Act, rather than relegating the parties to the arbitration proceedings pursuant to an agreement entered into between the parties. Learned counsel appearing for the opposite parties submitted before the Hon'ble Supreme Court that these judgments would not be applicable as they are in the context of the Arbitration Act, 1940 and that the Arbitration Act, 1996 has brought out fundamental changes and in view of the Arbitration Act, 1996, it is mandatory on the part of the Judicial Authorities to refer the parties to the arbitration. The mandate of Section 8 of Arbitration Act, 1996 would be defeated if the matter is not referred to arbitration in the cases where the parties have agreed to refer the dispute to the Arbitration.
28. The Hon’ble Supreme Court inMadhusudhan Reddy’s case (supra)noticed the above submissions as under:-
'10...........The Ld. Counsel relied upon Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and argued that in view of the arbitration clause contained in the agreements entered between the appellant and the growers, the latter could have applied for arbitration and Consumer Forums should have non-suited them in view of Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.....'
and held that the complaint filed under the Act of 1986 would be maintainable and the consumer cannot be denied the relief by invoking the jurisdiction of Section 8 of the Arbitration Act, 1996. Section 3 of the Act of 1986 makes it clear that remedy available is in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force. The relevant observations of the Hon'ble Supreme Court read as under:-
'29. The remedy of arbitration is not the only remedy available to a grower. Rather, it is an optional remedy. He can either seek reference to an arbitrator or file a complaint under the Consumer Act. If the grower opts for the remedy of arbitration, then it may be possible to say that he cannot, subsequently, file complaint under the Consumer Act. However, if he chooses to file a complaint in the first instance before the competent Consumer Forum, then he cannot be denied relief by invoking Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 Act. Moreover, the plain language of Section 3 of the Consumer Act makes it clear that the remedy available in that Act is in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.....'
29. InM. Madhusudhan Reddy’s case(supra), the Hon'ble Supreme Court had taken into consideration the background, aims, objectives and reasons behind the enactment of the Act of 1986, and considered Section 3 of the Act of 1986 and Section 8 of Arbitration Act, 1996. It has been held that complaint would be maintainable and relief cannot be denied by invoking Section 8 of the Arbitration Act.
30. It would be pertinent to notice that the builders insist upon the buyer to sign the agreement on dotted lines else they would not enter into agreement. Clause 6 (c) of the agreement refers to dispute resolution by arbitration. Under Clause 6 (c) of the agreement, the opposite parties reserved the right to appoint sole Arbitrator who may be his employee or advocate of the company etc.
31. In this regard, it would be appropriate to refer to the following passages from the book titled'Mustil & Boyd Commercial Arbitration, Second Edition', Page No. 149 & 151 &152, which read as under:-
'In practice therefore, the question has not been whether a particular dispute is capable of settlement by arbitration, but whether it ought to be referred to arbitration or whether it has given rise to an enforceable award. No doubt for this reason, English law has never arrived at a general theory for distinguishing those disputes which may be settled by arbitration from those which may not. The general principle is, we submit, that any dispute or claim concerning legal rights which can be the subject of an enforceable award, is capable of being settled by arbitration. The principle must be understood, however, subject to certain reservations.'
'In Soleimany V Soleimany (1999) QB 785, the Court of Appeal suggested that there may be cases where on grounds of public policy disputes under certain types of contract cannot be referred to arbitration, e.g., trading with the enemy or a partnership in crime.'
32. Further Hon’ble Supreme Court, while interpreting the provisions of Section of the Act of 1986 inRosedale Developers Private Limited Vs. Aghore Bhattacharya and others, (Civil Appeal No.20923 of 2013) etc., came to a conclusion that the remedy provided under Section 3 of 1986 Act, is an independent and additional remedy and existence of an arbitration clause in the agreement, to settle disputes, will not debar the Consumer Foras, to entertain the complaints, filed by the consumers.
33. Hon’ble National Commission inLt. Col. Anil Raj & Anr. Vs. M/s. Unitech Limited, and another, Consumer Case No.346 of 2013, decided on 02.05.2016, also held as under:-
'In so far as the question of a remedy under the Act being barred because of the existence of Arbitration Agreement between the parties, the issue is no longerres-integra. In a catena of decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, it has been held that even if there exists an arbitration clause in the agreement and a Complaint is filed by the consumer, in relation to certain deficiency of service, then the existence of an arbitration clause will not be a bar for the entertainment of the Complaint by a Consumer Fora, constituted under the Act, since the remedy provided under the Act is in addition to the provisions of any other law for the time being in force. The reasoning and ratio of these decisions, particularly in Secretary, Thirumurugan Cooperative Agricultural Credit Society Vs. M. Lalitha (Dead) Through LRs. & Others - (2004) 1 SCC 305; still holds the field, notwithstanding the recent amendments in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1986. [Also see:Skypak Couriers Ltd. Vs. Tata Chemicals Ltd.- (2000) 5 SCC 294 and National Seeds Corporation Limited Vs. M. Madhusudhan Reddy & Anr.- (2012) 2 SCC 506.] It has thus, been authoritatively held that the protection provided to the Consumers under the Act is in addition to the remedies available under any other Statute, including the consentient arbitration under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1986.'
34. Identical issue again arose before the Hon’ble National Commission in F.A. No.127 of 2016 (MAHINDRA HOLIDAYS & RESORTS INDIA LTD.Vs.ADNAN SAMOON RASSIAWALA & OTHERS)decided on 18.03.2016, in which it was held as follows:
'Though Mr. Pattjoshi, learned Senior Counsel, has made valiant attempt to convince us that in the light of the decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in HDFC Bank Ltd. v. Satpal Singh Bakshi, 2013 (1
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34) DRJ 566 (FB) , the parties were bound by the Arbitration Agreement and in view of the clear provision of Section-8 of the said Act, the dispute, subject matter of the Complaint, ought to have been referred to arbitration, yet we are unable to persuade ourselves to agree with the learned Senior Counsel. The issue sought to be raised is no more res integra as stands concluded by a number of authoritative pronouncements by the Hon’ble Supreme Court (seeSecretary, Thirumurugan Cooperative Agricultural Credit Society v. M. Lalitha (dead) through LRs & Ors., (2004) 1 SCC 305; Skypak Couriers Ltd. v. Tata Chemicals Ltd., (2000) 5 SCC 294 ; and National Seeds Corporation Ltd. v. Madusudan Reddy, (2012) 2 SCC 506). In light of the said decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, directly on the point, decision of the High Court cannot be relied upon, particularly when none of the afore-noted decisions have been noticed in the High Court’s decision, on which reliance has been placed by the learned Senior Counsel. We do not find any illegality in the impugned order, warranting our interference. Consequently, the Appeal fails and is dismissed in limine.' 35. Still further inUnited India Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs M/s Pushpalaya PrintersI (2004) CPJ 22 (SC) andLIC of India & Anr. Vs. Hira LalIV (2011) CPJ 4 (SC), while keeping in view the applicability of section 8 (amended) of the Act of 1996, it was specifically held that the consumers are always in a weak position and in cases where two interpretations are possible, the one beneficial to the consumer needs to be accepted. 36. State Commission, U.T. Chandigarh in Complaint Case No.484 of 2016 decided on 15.12.2016 (Surjit Singh Thadwal Vs. M/s Emaar MGF Land Pvt. Ltd. & Anr.)has also rejected the objection raised by the opposite parties that the Commission has no jurisdiction to decide the matter, in the face of existence of arbitration clause in the agreement to settle the disputes between the parties through arbitration in terms of provisions of Section 8 (amended) of the Act of 1996. 37. The authority relied upon by the learned counsel for the opposite parties can be distinguished in view of the latest law laid down above by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and Hon’ble National Commission. 38. Accordingly, it is held that this Commission, constituted under the Act of 1986, is not bound to refer the dispute raised in the complaint, on an application under Section 8 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 filed by the opposite parties. Section 3 of the Act of 1986 makes it clear that remedy available is in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force. The question is answered accordingly. 39. In view of the settled law, as laid down in the above authorities by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and Hon’ble National commission, I hold that the complaints under the Act of 1986 are very much maintainable, despite there being an arbitration clause in the agreement. Therefore, the second issue is decided against the petitioners. 40. Accordingly, the second issue is also answered in negative. 41. Resultantly, all the above noted Revision Petitions are dismissed and the impugned order is upheld.