At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE V.K. JAIN
By, PRESIDING MEMBER
For the Petitioner: Rakesh Tiku, Senior Advocate, Rashmi, Pawan Kumar, Advocates. For the Respondent: Sanjoy Kumar Ghosh, Advocate.
The consumer complaint was filed by the Government of West Bengal through its Director of Consumer Affairs and Fair Business Practices espousing the cause of as many as 18 persons to whom credit cards are alleged to have been issued by the petitioner. It was inter alia alleged in the complaint that the petitioner had been guilty of deficiency in rendering services to several credit card holders including those 18 persons and had also adopted unfair trade practices as defined in the Consumer Protection Act. It was inter alia stated that the allegations against the petitioner involved fictitious billing, imposition of unjust interest and charges, issuance of unsolicited cards and insurance policies, sending the bills after expiry of due date, withdrawal of card facility without notice and intimidating the credit card holders. It was stated in the consumer complaint that the logo of State Bank of India was being used by the petitioner company which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the said Bank.
2. Along with the consumer complaint a synopsis of the complaints received against the petitioner was filed. Some other annexures were also filed with the consumer complaint.
3. The complaint was resisted by the petitioner company as well as by State Bank of India which also had been included as a party to the consumer complaint.
4. It would thus be seen that though the complainant sought to present the grievances of as many as 18 card holders before the District Forum the complaint by itself did not contain specific grievances of all those 18 card credit card holders. The complaint did not disclose what precisely the grievances of those credit card holders were and what specific deficiencies the petitioner had committed in respect of each of them.
5. It is an admitted position that the affidavits of 18 card holders, whose cause was sought to be presented before the State Commission by Government of West Bengal were not filed. In the absence of the affidavits of the card holders the complainant cannot be said to have proved the alleged deficiencies and unfair trade practices. It was incumbent upon the petitioner to at least file the affidavits of all card holders whose grievances it was seeking to present before the District Forum and which had led to the complainant seeking not only monetary compensation but also sweeping directions against petitioner company.
6. Keeping in view all the facts and circumstances of the case including that it was a consumer complaint instituted by the Government of West Bengal and the Government was seeking to espouse the grievances of several credit card holders, I am inclined to remit the matter back to the District Forum to decide the complaint afresh after giving an opportunity to the parties to lead evidence though the consumer complaint could be dismissed solely on account of the complainant having not been able to substantiate the allegations by filing the affidavits of the individual credit card holders.
7. For the reason stated hereinabove, the impugned order is set aside and the consumer complaint is remitted back to the State Commission to decide it afresh after giving opportunity to the complainant to file affidavits of the credit card holders along with the supporting documents unless already filed. The petitioner will also be entitled to lead evidence in rebuttal.
8. It transpired during the course of hearing that an interim order, giving sweeping directions, was passed by the District Forum on 12.09.2007 which, in my opinion, ought not to have been passed at least at the interim stage. The said interim order was confirmed while deciding the complaint. The interim order dated 12.09.2007 is, therefore, set aside. The Dis
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trict Forum while deciding the consumer complaint afresh in terms of this order shall be entitled to pass such order which it is competent to pass in terms of Section 14 of the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The parties shall appear before the District Forum on 28.08.2020. The District Forum shall decide the consumer complaint afresh within six months of the parties appearance before it. The RP stands disposed of.