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M/s. Skipper Construction Co. (P) Ltd. v/s S.C. Munjal

    Appeal No. 50 of 1992
    Decided On, 16 October 1992
    At, Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission New Delhi
    By, MEMBER
    For the Complainant: - - - - -. For the Opposite Party: - - - - -.

Judgment Text
R.N. Mittal, President:

1.This appeal has been filed against the order dated 10.3.92 of the District Forum-I by which the opposite party appellant has been directed to pay interest @ 18% p.a. to the complainant for a period of 4 months after adjusting the sum of Rs. 100/- already paid within a period of 30 days from the date of the order.

2. Briefly the facts are that the opposite party - appellant is working as a builder. They invited applications from a specified segment of the society for the sale of Commercial spaces in their proposed multi-storeyed building situated at Jhandewalan, New Delhi. The complainant respondent applied for purchase of a commercial space and deposited an amount of Rs. 10,000/- on 14.3.1991. It was stated in the scheme that if the number of applicants were more, the space would be given to the applicants by draw of lots. As the number of applicants was more, the lots were drawn on 26.4.91.

3. The complainant was un-successful in the draw and he requested the appellant to refund the amount of Rs. 10,000/- on 28.4.91. Thereafter it is alleged that he made various requests to the respondent for refunding the amount but it was not done. On 1.7.91 one Mr. Sanjeev Gupta of the appellant company was contacted, who informed him that he should make an application for refund of the amount and submit the same with the receipt issued by the appellant. On 2.7.91 he submitted the application alongwith the receipt of Rs. 10,000/- issued by the appellant. An amount of Rs. 10,000/- was received by him vide cheque dated 29.8.91 (Rs. 100/- was on account of interest). Consequently he filed a complaint before the District Forum alleging that he was entitled to interest from the date of draw i.e. 26.4.91 till he received the payment of @ 24% p.a.

4. The complaint was contested by the opposite party appellant. They inter-alia pleaded that the complainant was not a 'consumer' and that he was not entitled to more interest than that paid by them. The learned District Forum granted the relief to the complainant as stated above.

5. The first question that arises for determination is whether the complainant is a 'consumer'. It is not necessary to dilate upon this matter as it has been settled by the National Commission in U.P. Avas Evam Vikas Parishad v.Garima Shukla, I (1991) CPJ 1 (NC) wherein it was held that under Section 2(1)(o) of the Consumer Protection Act the definition of the term service is very comprehensive, it means service of any description including banking, financing, transport, supply of electrical or other energy, entertainment etc. This leaves no room for doubt that a type of service which the board renders to the public for a consideration is clearly covered by Section 2(1)(o). In the present case the complainant had applied for a space in the building and he was declared un-successful at the time of draw. The ratio in that case is, therefore, fully applicable to the present case. Consequently, we are of the view that the complainant is a 'consumer' as defined in the Act.

6. The second contention of the learned Counsel for the appellant is, that when the complainant made an application for return of the amount, it was specifically mentioned by the officer, who received the application, that he would be paid interest @ 12% p.a. He submitted that in view of that he is not entitled to interest at a higher rate than 12% p.a. We have duly considered the argument but regret our inability to accept the same. The complainant had claimed interest @ 24% pa. in that letter. It is true that the officer of the appellant company stated that he was entitled to interest @12% p.a. w.e.f. first week of August but there is nothing on the record to show that the complainant/respondent accepted the afore said condition of the appellant company. There- fore, in our view he is not bound by any such note given on the application. It is common knowledge that the rates of interest prevailing in the market are very high therefore in our view the rate of interest given by the learned District Forum is just and proper. "

7. The last contention of the learned Counsel for the appellant is that a large number of persons applied for the plots and it took sometime to the company to refund the amount. Therefore, the complainant was not entitled to interest with effect from 26.4.91, the date of draw of lot.

8. We have considered this contention and find force in it. The scheme floated by the appellant has not been placed on record. It has also not been brought on record how many persons applied for the plots. However, we think that sometime was required by the appellant to refund the amount. It was not necessary for the applicants to have made applications for refund of the amount. It was the duty of the appellant themselves to have refunded the amount. In our view the amount should have been refunded by them within a period of one month after the draw i.e. upto 26.5.91. However, the amount has been refunde

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d by them vide cheque dated 29.8.91 i.e. after a period of three months. Consequently we partly accept the appeal, modify the order of the District Forum and direct the respondent to pay interest @ 18% p.a. on the amount of Rs. 10,000/- for a period of three months after adjusting the sum of Rs. 100/- already paid to him, within a period of 30 days from the date of the order. If they fail to refund the amount as ordered action will be taken against them under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act. No order as to costs. Order modified.