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Judge defends consumer courts

delhi Updated: Jan 05, 2009 00:09 IST
Harish V Nair
Harish V Nair
Hindustan Times
Judge defends consumer courts

For the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, upset over the manner in which the Delhi High Court has been staying many of its “consumer-friendly” orders, this particular ruling by a judge of the very same court is bound to bring cheer.

A single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court has said the legislative measure of setting up a three-tier consumer disputes redressal mechanism in the form of District Forum, State Commission and the National Commission will be rendered meaningless if the high court sets aside orders pronounced by consumer courts.

“Once a specialised body and tribunals have been provided, it is not fit for the High Court to assume jurisdiction where an alternative remedy is provided.... The whole purpose of creation of Tribunals stands defeated if the high court usurps jurisdiction of other tribunals,” Justice S.N. Dhingra said.

The observations came while the court refused to set aside an order passed by the state consumer commission asking tour operator Cox and Kings to pay a compensation of Rs 82,000 to 10 customers whose 10-day pleasure tour to Europe had turned into a nightmare owing to “multifarious deficiencies” on the part of the company.

Thanks to haphazard flight schedule, an incompetent tour leader and a bus driver who did not know English, the tourists missed a cruise on Sienna River, shopping in Paris and a visit to Disneyland and many other famous tourist spots. The tour operator contended that the state commission, by imposing such exorbitant penalties, had acted beyond its jurisdiction.

In a note forwarded on January 10, 2008, to the Delhi High Court following a series of stay on its orders, president of the State Consumer Commission Justice J.D. Kapoor accused lawyers representing various MNCs and companies in the high court of misleading the judges about the power and jurisdiction of the commission.