Maruti Suzuki Ltd has been directed by the apex consumer commission to pay rupees three lakh as compensation to one of its customers for selling him a defective car 10 years ago.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) gave the direction while modifying orders of the State and District consumer fora of Karnataka, which had directed the car manufacturer to replace the WagonR car with a new one and pay compensation of Rs 17,000.
A bench headed by Justice KS Chaudhari, while observing that the vehicle in question was defective as it had to be taken for repairs several times, noted that the complainant deserves "handsome compensation" for his eight-year-long litigation to get his grievance redressed.
"Since the vehicle was taken to the workshop a number of times and every time some part or the other was changed, it leads to the conclusion that there is significant defect in the vehicle. It becomes crystal clear that the complainant has undergone a lot of mental harassment and agony, amounting to torture, because of defects in the vehicle.
"There cannot be a case of bigger mental harassment than to carry the vehicle for repairs to the workshop so many times... The complainant has also been agitating the matters in consumer courts for the last eight years and still has to get the requisite relief. He, therefore, deserves handsome compensation as he has been a victim of circumstances and he has fought a valiant struggle to get his grievance redressed," the bench said.
The order came while dismissing Maruti Suzuki and its authorised dealer's appeals against the orders of the state and district consumer fora.
Maruti and its dealer had contended that all the issues with the car were fixed whenever it was brought for repairs.
The complainant, Pravenchandra Shetty, had contended that right from the beginning the car suffered from the problem of abnormal vibrations which could not be rectified despite its parts being replaced every time it was repaired.
Shetty had also cited the reports and statements given by the experts of National Institute of Technology, Karnataka, which had said the vehicle suffered from manufacturing defects.
The NCDRC relied on the report of the institute as well as the numerous repair records of the car to conclude that the car was defective, but as it had travelled more than one lakh km during the period from 2003 till date, the bench directed that lump sum compensation of Rs three lakh be paid to Shetty.