1. This order shall dispose of the application IA/1, filed by the opposite parties challenging the maintainability of this complaint and pecuniary jurisdiction of this Commission.
2. In short, the case of the complainants is that opposite parties/Builders are developing a house project viz. Noor-Us-Sabah Residency. Being impressed with the publicity made by the opposite parties, complainants booked an apartment bearing no.L-602 in the said project. The proposed area of the said apartment was admeasuring approximately 2535 sq. ft. Complainants booked the aforesaid apartment by paying booking amount Rs.5,00,000/-. The total cost of the apartment was Rs.2,19,15,150/-. Though at the time of booking of the aforesaid apartment it was promised that it would be ready very soon within a period of 3 to 3 years, but the opposite parties merely kept on making demands of payments with having no progress in the project. As per demand of the opposite parties, complainants paid Rs.5,00,000/- on 20.2.2014, Rs.15,85,700/- on 19.3.2014 and Rs.10,00,000/- on 21.9.2014. Despite payment of total amount of Rs.35,85,700/-, opposite parties remained careless and did not issue even allotment letter to complainants. The complainants, therefore, cancelled the booking and demanded refund of the amount paid by them. Since neither the amount was paid back nor the project was completed, the complainants approached to this Commission demanding refund of the amount of Rs.35,85,700/- with interest at the rate of 24% per annum and also compensation of Rs.25,00,000/- for deficiency in service committed by them.
3. The opposite parties moved an application under Section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act taking preliminary objection as to the maintainability of the complaint before this Commission. The preliminary objections have also been taken by the opposite parties in their written statement. According to opposite parties, the complainants claimed refund of the amount deposited towards booking of the flat and also further compensation and interest, totaling Rs.60,85,700/-, but the complaint is not maintainable as the total cost of the flat allegedly booked by the complainants is Rs.2,19,15,150/- and thus, the value of the services allegedly hired by the complainants exceeded the pecuniary jurisdiction of this Commission which is only Rs.1,00,00,000/-.
4. In reply to aforesaid application the complainants averred that the value of the services did not exceed the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Commission since the case of the complainants pertained to the deficiency of the service of the opposite parties in non-refund of the amount deposited by them amounting to Rs.35,85,700/- only. For refund of this amount together with interest claimed and the compensation of Rs.25,00,000/- the case would fall within the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Commission.
5. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the averments made by them in the complaint, the reply and the written statement.
6. Shri Deepesh Joshi, learned counsel for the opposite parties placing reliance on the decision rendered by the National Commission in the case of Ambrish Kumar Shukla & Ors. v. Ferrous Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd., I (2017) CPJ 1 (NC) submitted that since admittedly the value of the services hired by the complainants were for a flat worth Rs.2,19,15,150/-, the valuation of the claim for determining the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum would be the value of the service hired and not merely the relief prayed for by the complainants which may be of lesser value than the total value of the services hired.
7. The question before us has been directly dealt by the Three Judges Bench of the National Commission in the case of Ambrish Kumar Shukla, (supra). It is a case where similar question was referred by a single Member Bench of the National Commission to a larger Bench for the decision.
The issue has been decided as under :
“Reference order dated 11.8.2016
Issue No. (i)
14. It is evident from a bare perusal of Sections 21, 17 and 11 of the Consumer Protection Act that it’s the value of the goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed which determines the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum. The Act does not envisage determination of the pecuniary jurisdiction based upon the cost of removing the deficiencies in the goods purchased or the services to be rendered to the consumer. Therefore, the cost of removing the defects or deficiencies in the goods or the services would have no bearing on the determination of the pecuniary jurisdiction, if the aggregate of the value of the goods purchased or the services hired or availed of by a consumer, when added to the compensation, if any, claimed in the complaint by him, exceeds Rs.1.00 crore, it is this Commission alone which would have the pecuniary jurisdiction to entertain the complaint. For instance if a person purchases a machine for more than Rs.1.00 crore, a manufacturing defect is found in the machine and the cost of removing the said defect is Rs.10,00 lacs, it is the aggregate of the said 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. Similarly, if for instance, a house is sold for more than Rs.1.00 crore, certain defects are found in the house, and the cost of removing those defects is Rs.5.00 lacs, the complaint would have to be filed before this Commission, the value of the services itself being more than Rs.1.00 crore.”
8. It is also revelant to refer to the provision of Section 17 of the Act which reads as under :-
“17. Jurisdiction of the State Commission.—(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the State Commission shall have jurisdiction –
(a) to entertain –
(i) Complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees twenty lakhs but does not exceed rupees one crore: and ------------.”
9. Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the present case in the light of ratio of the aforesaid decision of the National Commission, we find that admittedly the complainants booked the apartment worth Rs.2,19,15,150/- and paid Rs.35,85,700/- to opposite parties. Thus, the value of the services hired by the complainants exceeded the pecuniary jurisdiction of this Commission. Merely because the complainants filed complaint for refund of the deposited amount with interest and compensation, in total valuing of Rs.60,85,700/-, it cannot be held that the services hired by them were limited to that extent only. It is the value of the goods or services and the compensation claimed which aggregately determines the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Consumer Fora. The Consumer Protection Act does not envisage determination of the pecuniary jurisdiction based upon the cost of removing of the deficiencies in the goods purchased
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or services to be rendered to the consumer. Therefore, it has to be held that value of the services hired by the complainants were, over and above, Rs.1 crore, the pecuniary jurisdiction of this Commission. It is undisputed that the complainants hired services of the opposite parties in respect to the apartment was Rs.2,19,15,150/-. In this view of the matter, this Commission has no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint even if, the complainants claimed relief of refund of money, interest and compensation under valuing the cost of services hired. 10. The complaint is, therefore, rejected with the observation that the complainants shall be at liberty to file a fresh complaint of the same cause of action before the National Commission. Complaint dismissed.