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In class action suits, oneness of the interest is akin to a common grievance against same person: Supreme Court.

Anjum Hussain Vs Intellicity Business Park Pvt Ltd
Civil Appeal No. 1676 Of 2019
Bench:Justices Arun Mishra & Uday Umesh Lalit
Decided On: 10th May, 2019

Brief facts of the Case:
 
Oneness of the interest is akin to a common grievance against the same person, said the Supreme Court upholding a view of full bench of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in Ambrish Kumar Shukla and ors. Vs. Ferrous Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.

In this case, 44 persons including Anjum Hussain had booked an office space admeasuring about 440 sq.ft in a project consisting of residential units, shops and offices launched by Intellicity Business Park Pvt. Ltd. The Builder – Buyer Agreement was executed between Anjum Hussain and the Builder on 02.12.2013, whereunder the builder was to deliver possession of the office unit within four years. The builder failed to honour its commitments of delivering possession in four years, 44 persons including Anjum Hussain approached the Consumer Commission seeking refund of the amounts paid by them to the builder along with interest and compensation.

An application seeking permission in terms of Section 12(1)(c) of the Consumer Protection Act, to institute the complaint on behalf of all such buyers of commercial units, was also filed. This application was dismissed by the National Consumer Commission, holding that the class action under Section 12(1)(c) of the Consumer Protection Act on behalf of not only the complainants but all the allottees of the shops/commercial units in the project is not maintainable.

The National Commission stated that that it is not even alleged that all the allottees of the commercial units/shops in the said project had booked the said shops/units solely for the purpose of the earning their livelihood by way of self-employment. In the absence of such an averment in the complaint, no evidence can even be led to prove that not only the complainants but all the allottees of the shops/commercial units had booked the same solely for the purpose of the earning their livelihood by way of self-employment. The Commission was of the view that the complainants cannot know the purpose for which the allottees, other than the complainants had booked the shops, commercial units in the aforesaid project. The said purpose can be in the knowledge only of the concerned allottees. Therefore, the Commission held that class action under Section 12(1)(c) of the Consumer Protection Act on behalf of not only the complainants but all the allottees of the shops/commercial units in the aforesaid project is not maintainable.

In appeal, the bench comprising of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, referring to, Chairman, Tamil Nadu Housing Board, Madras vs. T. N. Ganapathy, observed that these persons need not have the same cause of action and all that is required for application of said provision is that the persons concerned must have common interest or common grievance. What is required is sameness of interest.

The bench also referred to the judgment of full Bench of the National Commission in Ambrish Kumar Shukla and ors. Vs. Ferrous Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. It said that it was observed by the Court in T.N. Housing Board that the provision must receive an interpretation which would sub-serve the object for its enactment. It is in this light that the Full Bench of the National Commission held that oneness of the interest is akin to a common grievance against the same person.

The Supreme Court said that approach in the instant case taken by the National Commission was totally erroneous and it completely lost sight of the principles so clearly laid down in the decisions referred to above.

Top ten List of Judgement

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Divya Patwal

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