A five-judge bench of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has opined that additional evidence/ documents can be allowed to be presented before the Consumer Commission at the stage of appeal and revision but only if the parties presenting the same prove that the documents or evidence was not in its knowledge or that despite exercise of due diligence could not be produced at the time when the decree appealed against was passed.
A bench of President Justice R K Agrawal and members Justice V.K.Jain, Deepa Sharma, M Shreesha and Anup K Thakur said so while deciding a reference sent to it by a three-jugde bench.
The question in reference was whether in Appeal Cases or the Revision Cases, the State Commission and/or the National Commission can exercise the powers of Order 41 Rule 27 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and permit the parties to adduce/bring on record the additional documents.
In deciding the reference, the five-judge bench referred to the recent judgement of the Supreme Court of India in Jiten K. Ajmera & Anr. Vs. Tejas Cooperative Housing Society wherein it was held that under Order 41 Rule 27 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, a party can produce additional evidence at appellate stage.
The Supreme Court had in that case noted that the documents sought to be brought on record came into existence only after filing of the appeal before the State Commission and observed, "Under Order 41 Rule 27 CPC a party can produce additional evidence at the appellate stage, if it establishes that notwithstanding the exercise of due diligence, such evidence was not within its knowledge, or could not even after the exercise of due diligence, be produced by it at the time when the decree appealed against was passed".Taking note of the decision of the apex court, the NCDRC five-judge bench held, "In view of the law laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Jiten K. Ajmera, either of the parties are entitled to produce additional evidence in the Appeal and/or Revision Petition at any stage if it establishes that notwithstanding the exercise of due diligence such evidence was not in its knowledge and could not, even after exercise of due diligence, be produced by it at the time when the Consumer Complaint was decided. We, therefore, answer the reference accordingly".
The reference reached the five-judge bench from a two-member bench of NCDRC comprising President R K Agarwal and Member M Shreesha which was hearing a batch of revision petitions moved by insurance companies against the order of the Chhattisgarh State Commission relating to insurance claim.
Companies' advocates Rajat Khattry and Debopriya Pal sought to bring on record additional documents which were not part of the record before the State Commission like the true copy of the Miscellaneous Vehicle Package Policy along with Terms & Conditions of the Policy, true copy of the Claim form etc.
The bench, while holding that the provisions of Order 41 Rule 27 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 has not been made applicable in the proceedings under the Act, referred the matter to three-judge bench saying, "This question is of great importance as a large number of cases are pending before the District Consumer Forum, the State Commission as also before this Commission, where any of the parties may seek to bring additional documents on record which were not part of the record".
The three-judge bench was of the opinion that "there is absolutely no bar in the provision of the Act that any additional evidence cannot be brought on record before the State Commission while hearing appeal" but referred the matter to the five-judge bench.
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