Revisional Jurisdiction Of NCDRC Extremely Limited, Reiterates Supreme Court
The Supreme Court observed that the revisional jurisdiction of the National Commission under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act is extremely limited.It should be exercised only in case as contemplated within the parameters specified in the said provision, namely when it appears to the National Commission that the State Commission had exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law,...
The Supreme Court observed that the revisional jurisdiction of the National Commission under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act is extremely limited.
It should be exercised only in case as contemplated within the parameters specified in the said provision, namely when it appears to the National Commission that the State Commission had exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or had failed to exercise jurisdiction so vested, or had acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity, the bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi observed.
In this case, the complainant had filed the consumer case before the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Purba Medinipur alleging inter-alia that the opposite party i.e., Sunil Kr. Maity had a saving account number in a bank since January, 2000. On 24.02.2010, the said account number was changed. On 15.09.2012, the complainant went to deposit a sum of Rs. 500/- in the said account, when a staff of bank informed him that the account number had again been changed and wrote a different account number on his passbook. The said amount was deposited in the said account number. Thereafter, on 16.01.2013, the complainant deposited a cheque for Rs. 3,00,000/- drawn on SBI of the said Branch issued by one Prabir Pradhan having an SBI account number 030608507950. When the complainant went to update his passbook on 11.12.2013, he noticed that his passbook showed the balance of Rs. 59/- only, though he had not made any transaction between 16.01.2013 to 11.12.2013. On the enquiry having been made, the bank informed the complainant that there was another customer by the name Sunil Maity whose account number account number was wrongly given to the complainant whose name. The said Sunil 3 Maity withdrawn the sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- and Rs. 2,00,000/- respectively from the said account number.
The complainant therefore wrote letters to the bank and thereafter filed the complaint before the Consumer Forum against the SBI and the said Sunil Maity. This complaint was allowed by the Consumer Forum against which an appeal was preferred by the bank before the State Commission (SCDRC). The SCDRC upheld the order of the Consumer Forum except to the extent of fine imposed. Therefore, the bank approached the NCDRC by filing revision petition. Allowing the petition, the NCDRC dismissed the complaint with liberty to the complainant to approach a competent civil court as per the law. Challenging this order, the Complainant approached the Apex court.
In appeal, the Apex court bench noted the following:
-The National Commission had called for a report on the whole matter from the SBI. Accordingly, a report was filed by the Regional Manager of the SBI.
- It was relying upon the said report, the Commission allowed the revision petition.
Disagreeing with this approach, the bench observed as follows:
" This court is at a loss to understand as to how the National Commission could have sought for a report at the revisional stage, that too from an officer of the party which already had an opportunity to submit all the documents necessary for the purpose of defending itself before the Consumer Forum, and as to how such a report in the form of an additional 6 evidence produced at the revisional stage could be relied upon, in respect of which the two fora below had no opportunity to deal with. It is needless to say that the revisional jurisdiction of the National Commission under Section 21(b) of the said Act is extremely limited. It should be exercised only in case as contemplated within the parameters specified in the said provision, namely when it appears to the National Commission that the State Commission had exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or had failed to exercise jurisdiction so vested, or had acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity. In the instant case, the National Commission itself had exceeded its revisional jurisdiction by calling for the report from the respondent-bank and solely relying upon such report, had come to the conclusion that the two fora below had erred in not undertaking the requisite in-depth appraisal of the case that was required." (Para 8,9)
The court added that though a party can produce additional evidence at the appellate stage, the same has to be within the four corners of law, that is as contemplated in Order 41 Rule 27 of Code Of Civil Procedure.
"The party has to establish that notwithstanding the exercise of due diligence, such evidence was not within its knowledge or could not even after due diligence, be produced by it at the time when the decree appealed against was passed. Apart from the fact that there is a vast difference between the exercise of appellate jurisdiction and the revisional jurisdiction, no such application was filed by the respondent-bank before the National Commission. Under the circumstances, calling for the report by the National Commission on its own from the officer of the bank was absolutely unwarranted. Further, it is also well settled legal position that requirement of leading detailed evidence could not be a ground to shut the doors of any forum created under the Act like the Consumer Protection Act. The anvil on which entertainability of a complaint by a forum under the Act is to be determined, is whether the questions, though complicated they may be, are capable of being determined by summary enquiry."
The court also observed that the NCDRC grossly erred in observing that the complainant would be at liberty to seek remedy in the competent Civil Court and that if he chooses to bring an action in a Civil Court, he is free to file an application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963, recording the statement of Ld. Counsel for the SBI that it will not press the issue of limitation if action is brought by the complainant in a Civil Court. "Such an observation/order passed by the National Commission is in utter ignorance of the provisions of the Limitation Act, in as much as Section 5 of the Limitation Act does not apply to the institution of civil suit in the Civil Court.", the court added while restoring the order passed by State Commission.
Sunil Kumar Maity Vs State Bank Of India
2022 LiveLaw (SC) 77
CA 432 OF 2022 | 21 Jan 2022
Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi observed.
Revisional Jurisdiction Of NCDRC Extremely Limited.