By Adv. Jatin Ramaiya
Convergence Builders, approached the Goa State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, and challenged the two orders passed by the North Goa District Forum at Porvorim, vide which the application filed by Convergence Builder for extension of time to file written version and another application for dismissal of complaint for lack of pecuniary jurisdiction had been dismissed. As per the Consumer Protection Act, a District Forum has jurisdiction to hear and decide complaint wherein the reliefs claimed are upto Rs 20 lakh and other complaint depending upon the reliefs claimed may be filed before State Commission or National Commission.
Peter Lobo, resident of Lobowaddo, Parra, had originally approached the North Goa District Forum, complaining about the purported deficiency in service by Convergence Builders. In his complaint Lobo had prayed that Convergence Builder be directed to direct the opposing party to complete incomplete work and hand over the possession of the flat in the building ‘Ambiance’ and execute a deed of sale as also pay compensation for a sum of Rs 20 lakh as damages towards deficiency in service. The Commission presided by President Justice (Retd) U V Bakre and member Vidya Gurav heard the appeal filed by the builder and perused the records as well. The Commission whilst relying on the Judgement passed by the National Commission held that “therefore, adding the compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the consideration agreed between the parties in respect of the said flat which was Rs 15 lakh the total becomes Rs 35 lakh-. In terms of Section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 the District Forum has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and the compensation does not exceed Rs 20 lakh. In the present case the said value of the goods and compensation exceeds Rs 20 lakh and the Forum has no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint.”
Furthermore, the Commission held that “application raising objection to the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Forum, the Forum ought to have dealt with the said application first and thereafter the application for extension of time in filing the written version. Since the Forum did not have jurisdiction to entertain and decide the complaint, the order dismissing the application for extension of time in filing the written version is without jurisdiction and hence liable to be set aside.
Moreover, the members of the Commission deemed fit to partly allow the appeal of the builder and held that the Forum has no pecuniary jurisdiction to entertain and decide the complaint filed by Lobo as the total value of the relief claimed was beyond Rs 20 lakhs and further quashed the order dismissing the application extension time to file written statement. However, keeping in mind the object of the Act, the Commission directed that the complaint shall be returned back to Lobo and granted liberty to file new complaint on the same cause of action or to file the same complaint, after suitably amending the same, before appropriate Forum having pecuniary jurisdiction.