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Pritam Dass v/s The New India Assurance Co. Ltd. & Others

    Appeal No. 29 of 2021

    Decided On, 27 September 2021

    At, Union Territory Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission UT Chandigarh

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE RAJ SHEKHAR ATTRI
    By, PRESIDENT & THE HONOURABLE MR. RAJESH K. ARYA
    By, MEMBER

    For the Appellant: Devinder Kumar, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1 & R2, Dr. (Mrs.) Swatantar Kapoor, Advocate.



Judgment Text

Rajesh K. Arya, Member

1. This appeal has been filed by the complainant, namely, Sh. Pritam Dass (appellant herein) seeking modification of order dated 22.02.2021 passed by District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum-II, U.T., Chandigarh (now District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission-II, U.T., Chandigarh) [in short ‘District Commission’] vide which his consumer complaint No.68 of 2020 was allowed and opposite parties No.1 & 2 (respondents No.1 & 2 herein) were directed to pay Rs.7,500/- to the complainant on account of compensation for mental agony and physical harassment as well as litigation expenses within 30 days from the date of receipt of copy of the order failing which, they were made liable to pay interest @9% per annum on the awarded amount from the date of the order till payment.

2. It may be stated here that in this appeal, the appellant/complainant has sought enhancement of awarded amount by the District Commission vide the order under challenge. Firstly, the appellant has sought interest @12% on the amount of Rs.99,883/- from 27.12.2018 till January 2021; secondly, he has sought compensation of Rs.1,00,000/- as compensation towards harassment, mental tension faced by him on account of arbitrary attitude of respondents No.1 & 2 and thirdly, litigation expenses of Rs.33,000/- has been claimed by him. Enhancement has been sought on the ground that the treatment of the appellant started on 27.12.2018 and he spent the amount in hospital in the year 2018 but respondents No.1 & 2 paid the claim amount in the month of January & February, 2021 i.e. after three years from the date of treatment and withheld the claim amount without any reason.

3. The claim in appeal was contested by respondents No.1 & 2, by filing written arguments, on the ground that claim has been fully satisfied and this fact is admitted in the impugned order. It was further stated that in the absence of any claim against the opposite parties regarding injury or loss, the appeal is not maintainable and is not legally tenable. It was further stated that as per Section 39 of Consumer Protection Act, 2019, it is entirely the discretion of the District Commission to award adequate cost and the appellant cannot challenge the order as being legally untenable, which has been passed after due consideration taking cognizance of the pleadings of the parties and documentary evidence on record. It was further stated that the compensation is always commensurate with the amount of claim and the prayer clauses in the complaint as well as appeal asking for exorbitant compensation of Rs.1 Lakh and Rs.33,000/- for litigation expenses and 12% interest exposes the intent to abuse the process of law for unjust enrichment. Lastly, prayer for dismissal of the appeal has been made.

4. We have also heard the Counsel for the parties and have also gone through the record and written arguments carefully.

5. So far as the claim of the appellant qua interest @12% per annum on the amount of Rs.99,883/- is concerned, it is very much clear from perusal of order dated 29.01.2021 passed by the District Commission in Consumer Complaint No.68 of 2020 that on the said date, Counsel for the complainant admitted that the complainant had received the amount of Rs.1,09,854/- and he contested his claim qua compensation and costs only. This contention of the Counsel for the complainant was also recorded by the District Commission in Para No.5 of its order. Therefore, once the appellant/complainant, through his Counsel, had given up his prayer in the complaint qua 12% interest on the amount of Rs.99,883/-, during the course of arguments, now in appeal, he cannot seek the said relief. Moreover, both of his claims i.e. (Rs.84,914/- + Rs.15,330/-), amounting to Rs.1,00,244/- (wrongly claimed as Rs.99,883/-) were duly paid by respondents No.1 & 2 by making payment of Rs.95,998/- on 17.11.2020 to opposite party No.3. Not only this, it is on record, that respondents No.1 & 2 did not deny the claim but the same was pending disposal for want of information/documents from the complainant. However, against the claimed amount of Rs.99,883/-, respondents No.1 & 2 paid the amount of Rs.1,09,854/- as admitted by the Counsel for the appellant before the District Forum on 29.01.2021. Therefore, the demand of interest by the appellant @12% per annum is totally unsustainable and arbitrary in the eyes of law and more particularly, in view of the fact that on receipt of aforesaid amount, the appellant restricted his claim only to compensation and cost.

6. Now coming to the second limb of argument that the compensation and cost awarded by the District Commission, being on the lower side, should be enhanced to Rs.1,00,000/- and Rs.33,000/-, it may be stated here that no doubt, Consumer Fora is established for better protection of consumers but on the other hand, Consumer Courts are not meant for enriching the consumers. We are of the view that there was no illegality in the impugned order passed by the District Forum. Award of Rs.7,500/- as compensation is totally just and fair as appellant failed to establish by way of any documentary proof or any evidence that how he had suffered the harassment and mental tension, for which, he claimed compensation amount of Rs.1,00,000/- and litigation of Rs.33,000/-. Firstly, the appellant cannot pray for unjustified amount of compensation and secondly, even if he demands for enhanced amount of compensation then he has to justify his plea on the basis of documentary and other relevant evidences in the case. In Surendra Kumar Tyagi Vs. Jagat Nursing Home and Hospital and Another, IV (2010) CPJ 199 (N.C.), the principle of law, laid down, by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi, was to the effect that the compensation should be commensurate with loss and injury, suffered by the complainant. The compensation is required to be fair, just and not unreasonable and arbitrary. The Consumer Foras are not meant to enrich the Consumers, at the cost of the service provider, by awarding unfair, unreasonable and highly excessive compensation. The principle of law, laid down, in Surendra Kumar Tyagi`s case (supra), is fully applicable to the facts of the instant case. We would also like to state here that compensation should neither be excessive, nor unfair, but, on the other hand, it should be adequate, fair and reasonable.” The word ‘just’ to qualify compensation encompasses “equita

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bility, fairness and non-arbitrariness”. A consumer claim must be for relief and not a bonanza. Therefore, in our considered opinion, the District Commission, vide the impugned order, awarded just, fair and adequate amount of compensation to the appellant. Since the appellant has miserably failed to make out any case for enhancement in the award amount, therefore, the impugned order passed by the District Forum does not warrant any interference. 7. For the reasons recorded above, the appeal, being devoid of any merit, is dismissed, with no order as to costs. 8. Certified copies of this order be sent to the parties, free of charge. 9. The file be consigned to Record Room, after completion.
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