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Consumer fined for frivolous complaint

By Adv. Jatin Ramaiya 

The Consumer Protection Act was enacted for the purpose of summary and speedy disposal of consumer disputes. However some persons with oblique motives exploited the mechanism in the Act by filing false, frivolous and vexatious complaints. The Parliament taking note of such false and meritless cases being filed amended the Consumer Protection Act empowering the Consumer Foras to impose fine on such persons.

In a recent case the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission exercised its powers under Section 26 of Act and imposed costs of Rs 5000 on complainants. One Kandalgaonkar and other approached the Commission complaining against the Goa Urban Co-operative Bank.

The complaint pertained to the deed of partition dated July 22 1990 which according to the Kandalgaonkar  and other complainants were deposited with the bank for the purpose of availing loan vide the Loan Account No. MS/13/1989 and which had not been returned by the bank.

Therefore, in their complaint they asked for a direction to the bank to return to the  said deed of partition and to pay to them compensation of Rs 45.24 lakh on account of failure of the

bank to return the document and for damages of Rs five lakh  on account of mental torture and trauma.

The bank on receipt of the notice of the Commission filed its defense and stated that the original deed of partition is in the office of the sub-registrar and produced a letter issued by the Civil Registrar, Tiswadi, as proof. In pursuance of the evidence produced by the bank, the complainants sought to withdraw the complaint filed by them. However, the bench comprising of Justice (Retd) UV Bakre, president and Vidya Gurav, senior member whilst taking into consideration the conduct of the complainants, observed that, the complainants were aware of the fact that the said deed of partition was registered in the office of the sub-registrar on December 30 1994 and hence it was their duty to have verified from the sub-registrar if the same is still lying in the office of the sub-registrar.”

The Bench whilst terming the complaint as frivolous or vexatious observed, “Even after the filing of affidavit-in-evidence by the opposing party and production of the letter dated May 24 2018 on November 16 2018, the complainants on the next date of hearing i.e. on December 14 2018 prayed for time to file written arguments and again on January 18 prayed for time to withdraw the complaint.”

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