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Neena Aneja vs Jai Prakash Associates Ltd. - (Supreme Court) (16 Mar 2021)

Consumer complaints filed before coming into effect of Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (CPA, 2019) should continue in the fora in which they were filed as per pecuniary jurisdiction

MANU/SC/0190/2021

Consumer

The Appellants instituted a consumer case before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 18 June 2020. The consumer case was instituted under the provisions of the erstwhile legislation, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (Act of 1986). The NCDRC by its order dismissed the consumer case on the ground that, after the enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (Act of 2019), its pecuniary jurisdiction has been enhanced from rupees one crore to rupees ten crores. The Appellants’ review petition was also dismissed by the NCDRC. In the present case, the claim of Rs. 2.19 crores is below the enhanced pecuniary jurisdiction of the NCDRC. The complainants in the consumer case are in appeal.

The issue which arises in the appeals is whether a complaint which was filed and registered under the Act of 1986, before the new Act of 2019 came into force, has to be entertained under the provisions of the erstwhile legislation.

In considering the expression of intent in the repealing enactment in the present case, it is apparent that, there is no express language indicating that all pending cases would stand transferred to the fora created by the Act of 2019 by applying its newly prescribed pecuniary limits. In deducing whether there is a contrary intent, the legislative scheme and procedural history may provide a relevant insight into the intention of the legislature.

The Act of 2019, as indicated by its long title, is enacted to provide "for protection of the interests of consumers". The Statement of Objects and Reasons took note of the tardy disposal of cases under the erstwhile legislation. Thus, the necessity of inducing speed in disposal was to protect the rights and interests of consumers. The Act of 2019 has taken note of the evolution of consumer markets by the proliferation of products and services in light of global supply chains, e- commerce and international trade. New markets have provided a wider range of access to consumers. But at the same time, consumers are vulnerable to exploitation through unfair and unethical business practices.

Proceedings instituted before the commencement of the Act of 2019 on 20 July 2020 would continue before the fora corresponding to those under the Act of 1986 (the National Commission, State Commissions and District Commissions) and not be transferred in terms of the pecuniary jurisdiction set for the fora established under the Act of 2019. The impugned judgment and order of the NCDRC dated 30 July 2020 and the review order dated 5 October 2020, directing a previously instituted consumer case under the Act of 1986 to be filed before the appropriate forum in terms of the pecuniary limits set under the Act of 2019, shall stand set aside. The National Commission shall continue hearing the consumer case instituted by the Appellants. Appeals allowed.

Tags : PECUNIARY JURISDICTION   COMPLAINTS   FILING OF  

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