At, Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Thiruvananthapuram
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. T.S.P. MOOSATH
By, JUDICIAL MEMBER
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. R. RANJIT
By, MEMBER & THE HONOURABLE MR. K.R. RADHAKRISHNAN
For the Appellant: R. Chandrapraveen, C.S. Rajmohan, Advocates. For the Respondents: V.S. Bimal, Advocate.
K.R. Radhakrishnan, Member
First opposite party in C.C.No.221/2017 on the file of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Thiruvananthapuram (CDRF for short), has filed this appeal against the order dated 30.05.2018 passed by the District Forum. The respondent is the complainant before the District Forum. As per the order appealed against, the opposite parties are directed to pay Rs.40,790/- along with costs of Rs.5,000/- within one month of receipt of the order, failing which the amount of Rs.40,790/- shall carry interest @9% from the date of default till payment. The opposite parties 1 and 2 were set exparte by the District Forum. Aggrieved by the order, the 1st opposite party has filed this appeal.
2. The case of the complainant is as follows:
The complaint pertains to non-receipt of refund of excise duty for purchasing a vehicle under taxi quota. 1st opposite party is the manufacturer of the vehicle and the 2nd opposite party is the authorised dealer. The complainant, a driver by profession, purchased a new Honda Amaze car from the 2nd opposite party. They assured him that if the car is registered as a taxi and the certificate is produced within three months, excise duty of 6% would be refunded after registration of the vehicle. Accordingly he purchased the car availing loan from Sundaram Finance Pvt. Ltd. The on-road price was Rs.8,26,518/- and he paid an amount of Rs.7,78,400/- after deducting year back discount. The vehicle was delivered on 09.01.2017 and registered as a taxi bearing registration No.KL-01-CA-1541 and the certificate was issued by the RTA on 23.01.2017, noting the hypothecation. The complainant submitted the required documents to the 2nd opposite party within the time limit for getting refund of Rs.40,790/- (i.e. 6% of the basic price of Rs.6,79,825/-). Despite regular follow up there was no response from the 2nd opposite party. Hence this complaint was filed alleging deficiency in service on the part of the opposite parties, claiming Rs.40,790/- towards refund with 12% interest, Rs.2,00,000/- towards compensation and Rs.5,000/- as costs.
3. The complainant filed affidavit in lieu of chief examination and marked Ext.P1 to P4 on his side. The opposite parties accepted notice. But they did not file vakalath or version. Since they failed to appear and contest the case they were set exparte. On the basis of the materials on record, the District Forum found deficiency on the part of the opposite parties and allowed the complaint in part and passed the impugned order. This order is challenged in appeal by the 1st opposite party. Despite notice to 2nd respondents, there is no appearance.
4. We heard the learned counsel on both sides. The learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the notice was issued to their Regional Office and it was misplaced there. Hence this was not forwarded to their registered office where cases are handled; and so they were unable to take appropriate action to defend the case. The complainant was informed that the limitation period for claiming excise duty refund was about to be over and hence heavy discount in lieu of the excise duty was offered to him. The appellant is only the manufacturer of the car in question and is neither privy nor a party to the transaction of sale carried out between the respondents. Allegations in the complaint are against 2nd respondent and no cause of action arose against the appellant and hence prayed for setting aside the order of the District Forum. The learned counsel for the 1st respondent/complainant submitted that the appellant intentionally avoided appearance and had chosen not to contest the case and hence prayed for dismissal of the appeal.
5. We have examined the contentions on both sides and carefully gone through the relevant records. It is submitted on behalf of the appellants that there was no wilful negligence or laches on their part in not appearing before the District Forum and prays to give an opportunity to file the version and to raise their contentions. Even though we are not fully satisfied with the reasons stated by the appellant for not contesting the case before the District Forum, we consider that in the interests of justice an opportunity has to be given to the appellant/1st opposite party to file version raising their contentions for enabling to decide the complaint on merits. For this purpose, the order passed by the District Forum has to be set aside and the matter has to be remanded for fresh disposal. However setting aside order by the District Forum and remission of the case can be allowed only on terms, taking into account the fact that the first respondent/complainant has been put to undue hardships by the delay in culmination of the proceedings. We consider that the appeal is to be allowed on condition that the appellant pays an amount of Rs.10,000/- as costs to the 1st respondent/complainant. The appellant has deposited an amount of Rs.22,895/- at the time of filing this appeal. The 1st respondent/complainant is permitted to obtain release of Rs.10,000/- ordered as costs from the said am
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ount and the balance amount in deposit may be refunded to the appellant on filing proper application by them. In the result this appeal is allowed and the order dated 30.05.2018 passed by the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Thiruvananthapuram in C.C.No.221/2017 is set aside. The matter is remanded to the District Commission for fresh disposal on the merits after giving an opportunity to the appellant/1st opposite party to file version and adduce evidence, if any. The District Commission shall dispose of the case as expeditiously as possible.