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Law Case Study

In: Business and Management

Submitted By sunil24
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Mahan submitted certain documents before the Sub-Registrar for Registration claiming these as will. These documents were found to be a deed of conveyance and also improperly stamped. The Sub-Registrar impounded the documents and forwarded these to the collector of stamps. The Collector of Stamps asked Mahan to appear before him. He neither appeared before the Collector of Stamps nor submitted any other documents. Mahan has instead filed a complaint before the Consumer Forum that he has been harassed for three years and that there has been deficiency in service on the part of Sub-Registrar and the Collector of Stamps. Will he succeed. Explain.

Ans: Mahan will not succeed. Section 2(1) (g) of the Consumer protection Act, 1986 provides that, “deficiency” means any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service.”

Section 2(1)(o) of the Consumer protection Act, 1986 provides that “service” means service of any description which is made available to potential users and includes the provision of facilities in connection with banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, board or loading or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service.

In the given case Mahan was asked to present himself before the Collector of Stamps for the matter of improperly stamped deed of conveyance. In spite of repetitive reminders Mahan neither presented himself nor gave any written clarification for non appearance in front of Collector of Stamps instead he filed complaint before the Consumer Forum that he has been harassed for three years and that there has been deficiency in service on the part of Sub-Registrar and the Collector of Stamps.

“Spurious goods and services” mean such goods and services which are claimed to be genuine but they are actually not so.
Section 2(1)(g) of the Act provides that, “deficiency” means any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service.
From this definition it can be said that
(i) “Deficiency” means any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance
(ii) Such quality and manner of performance of service should have been required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise.
(iii) The deficiency must be in relation to a service
Deficiency in service due to circumstances beyond control - In normal course, if the service is found deficient as per the above criteria, it is held deficient and the compensation is awarded. However there may be abnormal circumstances beyond the control of the person performing service. If such circumstances prevent a person from rendering service of the desired quality, nature and the manner, such person should not be penalised for the same.

From the definition we can conclude that there is no deficiency in services on the part of the sub-registrar and controller of stamps. On the contrary Mr. Mahan is guilty for contempt of summon of sub-registrar and controller of stamps. Hence Mahan will not succeed.

Apart from Consumer Protection Act 1986, other legal enactments will also attract in the given case such as Indian Evidence Act 1872, Limitation Act 1963, Indian Registration Act 1992, Rules of contempt of court and Principles of Natural law such as natural justice & Equity

Section 2(1)(f) of the Act provides that, “defect” means any fault, imperfection or shortcoming in the quality, quantity, potency, purity or standard which is required to be maintained by or under any law of the time being in force under any contract, express or implied or as is claimed by the trader in any manner whatsoever in relation to any goods.
This definition clearly tells that Any type of defect not mentioned here will not be entertained by Consumer Forums. Moreover the defect has to be in relation to goods only, i.e., if an item does not fall within the definition of ‘Goods’, no defect can be complained therein.
Section 2(1)(o) of the Act provides that “service” means service of any description which is made available to potential users and includes the provision of facilities in connection with banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, board or loading or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service.
The definition provides a list of eleven sectors to which service may pertain in order to come under the purview of the Act. The list of these sectors is not an exhaustive one. Service may be of any description and pertain to any sector if it satisfy the following criteria:
1. service is made available to the potential users, i.e., service not only to the actual users but also to those who are capable of using it.
2. it should not be free of charge, e.g., the medical service rendered free of charge in Government hospital is not a service under the Act;
3. it should not be under a contract of personal service.
When we talk about ‘service’ under the Consumer Protection Act, we take it as a regular commercial transaction. Thus the services rendered under the contract of personal service are specifically excluded from the definition.
The expression ‘contract of personal service’ is not defined under the Act. In common parlance, it means - a contract to render service in a private capacity to an individual. For example, where a servant enters into an agreement with a master for employment, or where a landlord agrees to supply water to his tenant, these are the contracts of personal service. The idea is that under a personal service relationship, a person can discontinue the service at any time according to his will, he need not approach Consumer Forum to complaint about deficiency in service.
It does not make a difference whether the service provider is a Government body or a Private body. Thus even if a statutory corporation provides a deficient service, it can be made liable under the Act.
Some other sectors/professionals/services which are not specified in the definition of service but which have been considered by the Consumer Forums as service sectors from time to time are listed below:
Advocates, Airlines, Chartered Accountants, Courier, Chit Fund, Education, Gas Cylinder/LPG, Medical services, Postal services, Railways, Investment related services, and Telephone services.

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