Rekha Gupta, Member:
1. The present revision petition has been filed against the judgment dated 09.12.2016 of the West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Kolkata (‘the State Commission’) in First Appeal no. A/1211/2015.
2. The brief facts of the case as per the petitioner/complainant are that he obtained a pay order of Rs.100/- from the respondent/opposite party bank towards application fee for another complaint case filed by him, but the same was dishonoured. The issuing branch of the respondent/OP then reissued another pay order on 10.06.2014. Allegedly this pay order too got dishonoured. Thereafter, the District Forum asked him to deposit the requisite fees in cash. Taking strong exception to such repeated deficiency in service, the petitioner/complainant filed the case before the District Forum for exemplary compensation.
3. The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, South 24 Parganas, Alipore, Kolkata vide its order dated 8th October 2015 while dismissing the complaint for non-prosecution passed the following order:
'The day is fixed for filing show-cause by the complainant as to why the case shall not be dismissed for non-prosecution. But, complainant is absent on repeated calls nor any step is taken. OP appears through Advocate.
It appears from record that complainant on last two days, i.e., 21.08.2015 and also it appears that complainant is reluctant to proceed with the instant case.
The case be and the same is dismissed for non-prosecution without cost'.
4. Aggrieved by the order of the District Forum, the petitioner filed an appeal before the State Commission. The State Commission vide its order dated 9th June 2016 while dismissing the appeal has observed as under:
'It appears from the impugned order that the instant complaint case was dismissed for non-prosecution. It is alleged by the respondent that the appellant did not attend the proceedings before the District Forum on 14.07.2015 and 21.08.2015. There is no explanation from the side of the appellant as to why he did not attend the proceedings before the District Forum on those dates. Proper explanation from the side of the appellant about his absence on those days assumes significance given that on 08.10.2015, he was supposed to file show cause reply in respect of his absence for two consecutive days on the aforesaid dates. Wittingly, or otherwise, the appellant has not filed copy of any show cause reply that he was supposed to file before the District Forum on 08.10.2015.
Although, it is argued by the appellant that due to some communication gap, he could not attend the forum in time on 08.10.2015 no explanation has been assigned as to why he did not toured through the cause list of that day after court proceedings got over to find out the next date of the case, particularly, when he admittedly visited the District Forum on the very same day, albeit belatedly. Significant to note here that although misfortune struck hard the appellant, who allegedly could not attend the proceedings before the District Forum on 08.10.2015 due to some communication gap, the respondent did not find any difficulty in reaching the right place at the appropriate time.
It is argued by the appellant that neither the District Forum intimated him about the next date nor did he receive any SMS as per practice. To call a spade a spade, we are not aware of any such convention being followed by a court of law anywhere in India where litigants are personally contacted outside the ejlas to apprise them about the next dates of court proceedings.
Further, the denial from the side of the appellant as regards non-receipt of SMS notwithstanding, it appears the CONFONET website, where details of consumer cases across the country are uploaded on a daily basis, has been devised in such a manner that the moment next date of the case is put into the system, an automated SMS is instantaneously sent to the registered mobile numbers of the concerned parties informing them the next date. Be that as it may, if the appellant was indeed serious, he could have easily tracked down the next date from the Confonet website itself.
For all these reasons, the alibi as advanced by the appellant behind his non-appearance before the District Forum to puruse his case, is not at all sustainable. Save and except during the initial period, the appellant has all along been found to be sluggish in his approach in dealing with the case. It must be strongly emphasised that one cannot take Consumer Fora for granted and pursue cases as per one’s own sweet will. While Consumer Fora across the country are reeling under tremendous workload, in order to enforce discipline, they are fully justified to ruthlessly deal with casual litigants.
The present appeal is without any merit or substance. As such the same stands dismissed.
5. Hence, the present revision petition.
6. We have heard the petitioner/complainant in person. He has contended that he could not attend the court proceedings on 08.10.2015 as he was under the impression that the District Forum had shifted from Kolkata to Baruipur and by the time he realised his mistake and reached the District Forum it was 12.30 p m and the District Forum had passed the order for dismissal of the complaint. The State Commission erred in dismissing the appeal without going into the merits of the complaint.
7. We have gone through the record. It is seen that the complaint was filed on February 2015. On 14.07.2015 the District Forum passed the following order:
'Complainant is absent on repeated calls. OP is present through Advocate. OP files the copy of a receipt from where it reveals that OP has deposited Rs.500/- towards Consumer Legal Aid Fund and Advocate for OP submits that OP is ready and willing to pay Rs.500/- to the complainant as per direction of this Forum dated 18.06.2015 but could not do the same due to absence of the complainant. However, ex parte order against OP is vacated and W/V is accepted.
8. Thereafter on 21.08.2015, the District Forum passed the following order:
'Complainant is absent on call. Ld Advocate of OP is present. Fix on 08.10.2015 for show cause by the complainant.'
9. It was thereafter on 8th October 2015 the District Forum had dismissed the case for non-prosecution.
10. In the memo of appeal which is on record, the petitioner in paragraph 3 has stated that 'the case no. CC 86 of 2015 was admitted on 04.03.2015 and OP was absent and irregular for which penalty cost on OP was imposed by Ld Forum on July 15. Thereafter, the case was for argument on 08.10.2015 when your petitioner who is appearing in person went to Baruipur as the office gave notice for shifting on September but when on reaching to Baruipur it came to light that time for shifting has been extended. Your petitioner came back to Alipore at about 12.30 noon when Ld Bench closed for the day.'
11. The explanation for the non appearance on hearing date on 08.10.2015 is not acceptable for the reason that the petitioner has failed to produce the notice allegedly issued by the Registry of the Commission regarding shifting of Bench to Baruipur. It is pertinent to note that, there is no explanation regarding his absence on 14.07.2015 and 21.08.2015. Even in the revision petition the petitioner has failed to explain the absence on three consecutive dates before the District Forum.
12. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Mrs Rubi (Chandra) Dutta vs M/s United India Insurance Co. Ltd., 2011 (3) Scale 654 has observed:
'Also, it is to be noted that the revisional powers of the National Commission are derived from Section 21 (b) of the Act, under which the said power can be exercised only if there is some prima facie jurisdictional error appearing in the impugned order, and only then, may the same be set aside. In our considered opinion there was no jurisdictional error or miscarriage of justice, which could have warranted the National Commission to have taken a different view than what was taken by the two Forums. The decision of the National Commission rests not on the basis
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of some legal principle that was ignored by the Courts below, but on a different (and in our opinion, an erroneous) interpretation of the same set of facts. This is not the manner in which revisional powers should be invoked. In this view of the matter, we are of the considered opinion that the jurisdiction conferred on the National Commission under Section 21 (b) of the Act has been transgressed. It was not a case where such a view could have been taken by setting aside the concurrent findings of two fora.' 13. Thus, no jurisdictional or legal error has been shown to us to call for interference in the exercise of powers under Section 21 (b) of Act. The order of the State Commission does not call for any interference nor does it suffer from any infirmity or erroneous exercise of jurisdiction or material irregularity. Thus, the present revision petition is hereby, dismissed with no order as to cost.