At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE AJIT BHARIHOKE
By, PRESIDING MEMBER
For the Complainant: S. Gupta, Advocate. For the Opposite Parties: Abhishek Kumar, Advocate.
1. Instant complaint has been filed by M/s Qualitat Products India Ltd. alleging deficiency in service on the part of the opposite parties seeking following reliefs: -
1. Admit the present complaint and issue notice thereof to all the respondents;
2. Allow the complaint and directing the respondents jointly and severally to pay the claim amount of Rs.45.20 lakhs to the complainant alongwith the interest at 18% p.a. from the date of loss till actual payment and;
3. Directing the respondents to pay compensation for mental agony and harassment amounting to Rs.10,00,000/-
4. Directing the respondents to pay Rs.2,00,000/- towards the cost of litigation;
5. Pass any other order/direction in the peculiar circumstances of the present complaint.'
2. On perusal of the relief clause the complaint prima-facie appears not to be within the pecuniary jurisdiction. I have, therefore, heard arguments on maintainability.
3. On perusal of the prayer clause it transpires that the complainant is seeking claim amount of Rs.40.20 lakhs alongwtih 18% interest p.a. from the date of actual loss of the insured goods besides Rs.10 lakhs as compensation for mental agony and harassment. It is the stand of the complainant that insured goods were stolen on the night intervening 16/17 September, 2015. The complaint has been filed on 2.6.2018. As the complainant has claimed 18% interest p.a. from the date of loss the interest component claimed would be somewhere around 46% of the claim amount. Thus, if the interest component is added to the claim of Rs.44.20 lakhs, the claim of the complainant would not exceed Rs.66 lakhs. Further, if sum of Rs.10 lakhs claimed as compensation for harassment is added to the value of the claim including the interest claimed, value of the relief would amount to Rs.76 lakhs (approximately) which is much less than Rs.1 crore. Thus, in my view, in view of Section 21 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 this Commission does not have jurisdiction to entertain this complaint and the case falls within the pecuniary jurisdiction of the State Commission.
4. It may be argued on behalf of the complainant that since the value of the policy is Rs.2,25,00,000/-, the value of the service which is claimed to be deficient is more than Rs.1 crore.
5. The above issue is no more res integra. The Coordinate Bench of this Commission in RP No. 1794 of 2017 M/s Maharani of India through Yudhishthira Kapur, Partner Vs. Branch Manager, United India Insurance Co. Ltd., while dealing with the same issue has observed as under:
'The question which arises for consideration in this petition is as to what would be the value of the service hired or availed by the petitioner/complainant. In CC No.97 of 2016 Ambrish Kumar Shukla & Ors. Vs. Ferrous Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. dated 7.10.2016, a three-Members Bench of this Commission observed that if for instance a person purchases a machine for more than 1 crore a manufacturing defect is found in the machine and the cost of removing the said defect is Rs.10 lakhs, it is the aggregate of the sale consideration paid by the consumer for the machine and compensation if any claimed in the complaint which would determine the pecuniary jurisdiction of the consumer forum. It was further observed that if, for instance, a house is sold for more than Rs.1 crore, certain defects are found in the house and the cost of removing those defects is Rs.5 lakhs, the complaint would have to be filed before this Commission, the value of the service itself being more than Rs.1 crore. Thus this Commission took the view that the consideration agreed to be paid by the consumers should be taken as the value of the goods or the services as the case may be and for the purpose of determining the pecuniary jurisdiction the amount of compensation as claimed in the complaint needs to be added to the agreed consideration.
When an insurance policy is taken by a person he pays a premium to the insurer for hiring or availing its services. It is the premium paid by the insured to the insurer and not the extent of the sum insured which constitutes the agreed consideration and therefore in my opinion, it is the premium paid to the insurer which when added to the compensation claimed in the complaint would determine the pecuniary jurisdiction of this Commission. The extent of the sum assured would have no bearing on determi
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nation of the pecuniary jurisdiction of a consumer forum.' 6. I do not find any reason to differ with the aforesaid judgment. In view of the reasons discussed above, I am of the opinion that the instant case falls within the pecuniary jurisdiction of the National Commission. Complaint is accordingly rejected making it clear that this order, however, will not come in the way of the complainant to avail of its remedy by filing consumer complaint in a Fora of competent jurisdiction.