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Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 deficiency is defined in 2(1)(g) as “any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service.”

Certain services alongwith some of the case-laws are mentioned below.

TELEPHONE

Telephone services fall under the purview of the act. Complaints against delay in installation of telephone, negligent telephone disconnection, inflated bills can be compensated under the act.

INSURANCE

Maina Devi Bairlaia v. Life Insurance Corporation of India
FACTS: Here, Maina Devi’s husband took a life insurance policy for Rs.50,000. Before the second premium fell due, he died due to sudden illness. The claim made by the widow of the insured, was not entertained for 14 years. She got her miseries published in newspapers and certain MPs took up the matter in Parliament and she was sent a cheque for Rs.50,310.

HELD: On a suit before National Commission, it was held that the Corporation had been highly negligent in the performance of its services. Smt. Maina Devi, the complainant, had suffered hardship and loss on account of deficiency in service. She was held entitled to interest @ 12% p.a. from the date of expiry of 3 months from the date of death of the assured till the amount was paid to her. The Commission also awarded her compensation of Rs.15,000 for mental torture and harassment.

COURIER SERVICE

Skypack Couriers Pvt. Ltd. v. CERS and Others

FACTS: A consignment containing the complainant’s visas, air tickets, passport, etc. was not delivered.

HELD: A compensation of Rs.1,000 was awarded for the non-delivery.

POSTAL SEVICES

Presidency Post Master, General Post Office v. Shanker [1993].
FACTS: The complainant was medical director of a hospital. He had posted 600 invitations at the Central Post Office, Madras. Only 200 persons attended the function. It was found that the invitations were received by the addressees after the date of the function. The claimant claimed compensation of Rs.75,000 from postal department for deficiency of service.

The Department contended that the delay, if any, was not intentional or willful and, therefore, no liability incurred under Section 6 of the Post Office Act, 1898.

OBSERVATIONS: It was held that the Section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 clearly lays down that its provisions are in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force. This shows that the Act provides additional means of obtaining remedy for a consumer but if the remedy is barred under any other Act, then the various fora constituted under the Act cannot grant the remedy prayed for. Hence, the complaint was not entertained.

GAS CYLINDER

Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. v. Venkataraman [decided on 18.12.1992].

FACTS: In this case, a gas cylinder with a defective valve was supplied. The State Commission as well as the National Commission held that the failure of the distributor’s supply-man to check the defect at the time of delivery amounted to deficiency of service.

HELD: The Indian Oil Corporation was held liable to pay compensation of Rs.1,50,000 was awarded.

HOUSING BOARD

S.P. Dhavaskar v. Housing Commissioner, Karnataka Housing Board

FACTS: The complainant had booked a house with the Karnataka Housing Board against a deposit of Rs.1.66 lakhs. After five years, the Housing Board informed the complainant that the construction of the houses was not upto the expected level. He was given two choices that he could either take back the amount of deposit without interest or opt for a new house.

OBSERVATIONS: The State Commission held that the act of the Housing Board amounted to deficiency in service and returning deposit amount without interest was unreasonable and ordered payment of interest @ 18% p.a. In the appeal to the National Commission, the appeal went in the favour of the complainant.

MEDICAL SERVICES

Nivrutti G. More v. Dr. Vinayak Deshmukh

FACTS: The doctor had left the station without making competent alternative arrangements to attend to serious cases.

OBSERVATION: As a result, doctor was held liable for the medicine administered by an unqualified person working as compounder resulting in death of the patient.

Poonam Verma v. Ashwin Patel

OBSERVATION: It was held that a doctor qualified under the homeopathic system of medicines treats a patient with allopathic medicines, he is guilty of negligence and compensation is due if the patient dies on such account.

EDUCATION

Chairman, Board of Examinations v. Mohideen Abdul Kader

FACTS: The complainant, a student who wished to appear in the subject of production technology was denied permission to write that paper by the hall supervisor on the ground that his name appeared against Code No.2 while the paper fell under Code No. 1. He alleged that he was wrongly restrained and prevented from writing the examination on that day because of the attitude and negligence of the staff and, therefore, he claimed compensation for the inconvenience caused to him.

OBSERVATION: The National Commission in its order stated that a candidate who appeared for an examination could not be regarded as a person who had hired or availed services of the university or board for consideration. Therefore, he was not a consumer under the CPA and no compensation was awarded

PROCEDURE ON COMPLAINTS RELATED TO SERVICES

Section 13 specifies the procedure followed by the District forum when a complaint is received against goods and services.

  1. In complaints against services, the District Forum shall refer a copy of the complaint to the opposite party directing him to give his version of the case within a period of thirty days or such extended period which shall not exceed 15 days.
  2. Where the opposite party on receipt of a complaint referred to him under the above mentioned procedure 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 on the basis of the evidence brought on record.

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