SC in Dilemma For Protecting Consumer Over Procedural Compulsions

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Whether the District Forum has power to extend the time for filing of response to the complaint beyond the period of 15 days, in addition to 30 days, as envisaged Under Section 13(2) (a) of the Consumer Protection Act.

New Delhi (ABC Live India):  The Supreme Court of India on December 6, 2021 in civil appeal no(s). 73-74 of 2021case titled Bhasin Infotech and Infrastructure Private Limited Vs Neema Agarwal & Ors referred the case to larger bench for deciding the question, Whether the District Forum has power to extend the time for filing of response to the complaint beyond the period of 15 days, in addition to 30 days, as envisaged Under Section 13(2) (a) of the Consumer Protection Act?  And what would be the commencing point of limitation of 30 days Under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986

It is pertinent to mention that on 4 March, 2020 the apex court in case titled New India Assurance Company Limited vs. Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage Pvt. Ltd ruled that the District Forum has no power to extend the time for filing the response to the complaint beyond the period of 15 days in addition to 30 days as is envisaged under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act; and the answer to the second question is that the commencing point of limitation of 30 days under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act would be from the date of receipt of the notice accompanied with the complaint by the opposite party, and not mere receipt of the notice of the complaint.

Further, the Supreme Court of India in case titled Reliance General Insurance Co Ltd. & Another Vs M/s. Mampee Timbers & Hardwares Pvt. Ltd. & Another allowed the National Commission to accept written reply after speculated time line with costs of Rs 50,000/- to be paid to the opposite party, and referred the case for larger bench for answering the above mentioned two questions .

It is public domain that despite in the name of procedural rules, the substantial justice has been delayed as case is not be referred  to the larger bench  since 2020.

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