K.K. Srivastava, President:
1. This appeal is directed against order dated 13.8.2001 passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum-II, U.T., Chandigarh [for short hereinafter referred to as the District Forum-II] dismissing Complaint Case No. 455 of 2001 filed by the appellant Shri Rajesh Kumar s/o Shri Anand Singh r/o 28-P, C.G.H. Complex, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi against World Wide Immigration Consultancy Services Limited, Chandigarh and World Wide Immigration Consultancy Services, Canada through Chandigarh Office. The District Forum-II has dismissed the complaint in limine on the ground that the complainant has not paid second instalment of 700 U.S. Dollars to the opposite party No. 2 and has violated the agreement. It has further held that the complainant cannot justifiably urge deficiency in service on the part of opposite party No. 2. Apart from it, it has been held that the points in controversy involved appraisal of voluminous evidence regarding the compliance or otherwise of the terms of the contract between the parties and such a type of detailed inquiry could not be gone into by the Forum in summary method. The complainant was left free to avail the remedy available to him under the general law.
2. The notice of the appeal was issued to the respondent who put in appearance through Mr. Gurpal Singh, Advocate. The record of the complaint file was summoned. We have heard the learned Counsel for the appellant Mr. Rohit Khanna, Advocate and the learned Counsel for the respondents Mr. Gurpal Singh, Advocate.’
3. The District Forum-II has dismissed the complaint in limine mainly on taking into consideration the merits of the complaint case and the statement of the Counsel for the complainant regarding the non-payment of the second instalment of 700 US Dollars. However, it appears from perusal of para 5 of the impugned order that this statement was made subject to the condition that the instalment of 700 US Dollars was to be paid only after the receipt of the interview letter. The District Forum-II has on one had taken into consideration the allegations on merit and dismissed the complaint in limine without following the mandatory procedure laid down in Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 [for short hereinafter referred to as the C.P. Act] and on the other hand has dismissed the complaint on further ground that the complaint involved intricate questions of fact and law relating to the terms of the agreement entered into between the complainant and the opposite parties. The impugned order is thus passed both on consideration of merit as well as on the ground that it involved intricate questions of facts and leading of voluminous evidence into the pleas taken in the complaint case. Section 13(2) of the C.P. Act provides as under:
'13(2). The District Forum shall, if the complaint received by it under Section 12 relates to goods in respect of which the procedure specified in Sub-section (1) cannot be followed, or if the complaint relats to any services-
(a)refer a copy of such complaint to the opposite party directing him to give his version of the case within a period of thirty days or such extended period not exceeding fifteen days as may be granted by the District Forum;
(b)where the opposite party, on receipt of a copy of the complaint, referred to him under Clause (a) denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint, or omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time given by the District Forum, the District Forum shall proceed to settle the consumer dispute,
(i)on the basis of evidence brought to its notice by the complainant and the opposite party, where the opposite party denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint, or
(ii)on the basis of evidence brought to its notice by the complainant where the opposite party omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time given by the Forum.'
4. If the complaint is maintainable under the provisions of the C.P. Act, the same has to be taken on board and decided by following the procedure as laid down under Section 13 of the C.P. Act. Section 2(1)(e) of the C.P. Act defines 'consumer dispute' as under:
'2(1)(e). ‘consumer dispute’ means a dispute where the person against whom a complaint has been made, denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint.'
5. The learned Counsel appearing for the respondent was unable to make any submission on the ground that the copy of the complaint case had not been sent to the opposite party for any reply to the averments made in the complaint case. Even the statement of the Counsel for the complainant regarding the non payment of the second instalment of 700 US Dollars was subject to the condition which was not taken into consideration by the District Forum-II. In our considered view, the District Forum-II was legally not justified in taking into consideration the merit of the complaint case while dismissing the complaint in limine, without following the mandatory procedure laid down under Section 13(2) of the C.P. Act. It may be pointed out that it is not in every case of breach of the terms of the agreement that the complainant has to necessarily go to a Civil Court for redressal of his grievances. In a case where there is an agreement to provide service to the complainant, the complainant can file and maintain a complaint alleging deficiency in service on the part of the provider of the service. The District Forum-II also considered this fact and has recorded a finding in this regard in para 6, which reads, inter alia, as under:
'...In such circumstances, the complainant cannot justifiably urge deficiency in service on the part of O.P. No. 2.'
6. The Hon’ble National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi in the case of Synco Textiles Pvt. Ltd. v. Economic Transport Organisation and Others, I (1991) CPJ 40 (NC), held that ordinarily a case involving breach of the terms of the contract would lie before a Civil Court of competent jurisdiction though in case services of the opposite party are hired and allegation regarding the deficiency in service is made, the same can be maintained before a Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies.
7. In view of the foregoing discussion, we are of the considered opinion that the District Forum-II was in error in not following the mandatory procedure laid down under Section 13(2) of the C.P. Act and in not issuing notice of
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the complaint case to the opposite parties and decide the complaint case on merit. The District Forum-II could not consider the merit of the case at the preliminary stage of taking the complaint for hearing on merit and dismissed the same in limine. Resultantly, this appeal is allowed. The order passed by the District Forum-II, U.T., Chandigarh is set aside. The complaint case is remanded to the District Forum-II, U.T., Chandigarh for decision afresh according to law and on merits of the case after following the mandatory procedure laid down under the C.P. Act. The parties are directed to appear before the District Forum-II, U.T., Chandigarh on 15.1.2002. Copies of this order be supplied to the parties free of charges.