The consumer protection act 1986 has been enacted to help consumers fight for their rights and speak against the injustice done by manufacturers, distributors, retailers or suppliers. But it seems that the consumer protection act cannot be used by a trust.This was stated by the Supreme Court. A recent case has shed light on this fact. What is the case and what was decided? Scroll down to find out.
The case which shed light on the fact that trust cannot file a complaint as per the consumer protection act was named Pratibha Pratisthan & Ors. Vs. Manager, Canara Bank & Ors. The decision was made by the Supreme Court of India,and the date of judgment was 07/03/2017.
During the case, the question of whether a Trust can file a complaint as per consumer protection act 1986 rose. To answer it, the supreme court judgment mentioned that a complainant means a consumer, the central government or state government, one or more consumers with the same interest or a voluntary consumer association that is registered according to the current law. It was also mentioned that in cases of the death of the original complainant, the legal heir or representative could also make a complaint. It is quite clear that a trust doesn’t fall in any of these categories and hence cannot file a consumer complaint online or offline by visiting an online consumer forum or appealing at the consumer court.
The court also had a look at what a consumer means according to the consumer protection act. A consumer is someone who buys a product or avails a service by making a complete or partial payment or promises the payment in exchange for a product. It doesn’t include people who buy products or avail a service for commercial purpose or resale.
The Consumer Protection Act further makes it clear that only a person can file an online complaint. A person includes a firmno matter whether it is registered or not, a person, a co-operative society and an undivided Hindu family. It also includes every association of persons, no matter whether it is registered according to the Societies Registration Act, 1860 or not.
After reading all this, the Supreme Court decided that a trust cannot be called a person and hence, it's not a consumer too. Thus, a trust cannot be a complainant and has no right to file a consumer dispute as per the ConsumerProtection Act 1986.
The Supreme Court backed the National Commission and agreed that the National Commission was right in saying that the complaint was not maintainable as it was filed by an appellant trust.
The Supreme Court also mentioned that as the complaint was not maintainable, it is refraining from commenting on the merits of the dispute.
What Can We Learn from It?
The essential thing consumers can learn from this judgment of the honorable Supreme Court is that a trust cannot file a complaint in a consumer court. So, if you are a consumer who has been cheated by a product or service provider, there is no point in seeking the help of a trust as the court may decline to maintain the case later on even if you have a strong position in the case and hence, all your efforts could come to nothing.
What are the Other Options?
One of the best solutions available to a consumer who has been cheated in some way is to file the complaint on his or her own and fight the case himself or herself. Unfortunately, as most citizens of India are not updated on legal matters, things can be a bit tough. In such a case, the consumer can try the option of trusting an online consumer legal help desk like Consumer Voice where consumers can get guidance on how to file and win the case. As Consumer Voice is a nonprofit organization, you will need to pay only a nominal fee for the services,and you will get expert and unbiased legal advice in exchange. What are you waiting for? Call Consumer Voice and book an appointment with one of the experts today!