In a landmark judgement, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has stated that consumers seeking compensation worth Rs 1 crore and more or a group of consumers with similar grievances against a builder can now approach the national commission.
This judgement will help expedite justice delivery as now consumers can get together and appeal directly to the national commission instead of going through the long-drawn, three-tier process of district and state commissions before reaching the national commission.
A larger bench of the national commission was interpreting Section 12 (1) (c) of the Consumer Protection Act on a reference to an order by a smaller bench in August this year. Although the judgement has been delivered in the context of a real estate case, experts say it will certainly have implications in class action cases.
Interpreting the relevant section, in reference to a consumer case – Ambrish Kumar Shukla versus Ferrous Infrastructure, a three-judge bench of NCDRC said that “a complaint under Section 12 (1) (c) of the Consumer Protection Act is maintainable before this commission where the aggregate of the value of the goods purchased or the services hired or availed of by all the consumers on whose behalf or for whose benefit the complaint is instituted and the total compensation, if any , claimed in respect of all such consumers exceeds Rs 1 crore. The value of the goods purchased or the services hired and availed of by an individual consumer or the size, or date of booking/allotment/purchase of the flat would be wholly irrelevant in such a complaint where the complaint relates to the sale/allotment of several flats/plots in the same project/building.”
At present, consumers have to move the district forum, followed by the state commission and then the national commission.