Party Has Right To Address Final Arguments Before NCDRC Despite Not Filing Written Version : Supreme Court

Gyanvi Khanna

10 Sep 2023 3:57 AM GMT

  • Party Has Right To Address Final Arguments Before NCDRC Despite Not Filing Written Version : Supreme Court

    A Division Bench of the Supreme Court set aside the decision of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi (NCDRC), while upholding the principles of natural justice. The Court opined that although the opposite party had not filed its written version and may not have participated in the proceedings before the NCDRC, it nevertheless had the right to address final arguments...

    A Division Bench of the Supreme Court set aside the decision of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi (NCDRC), while upholding the principles of natural justice. The Court opined that although the opposite party had not filed its written version and may not have participated in the proceedings before the NCDRC, it nevertheless had the right to address final arguments before the NCDRC.

    While remanding the matter, the Court found that refusing to hear the opposite party while considering the complainant’s case on its merits amounted to a violation of the principles of natural justice.

    The Bench comprised of Justices B.V. Nagarathna And Ujjal Bhuyan.

    Brief Background

    The opposite party (appellant herein) filed the present appeal, challenging the NCDRC’s impugned order. The NCDRC had refused to grant an adjournment sought by the appellant’s counsel on behalf of the opposite party and proceeded to consider the case on its merits, ultimately ruling in favor of the complainant and directing the return of the entire deposited amount.

    It is worth mentioning that a Miscellaneous Application was subsequently filed in the case, seeking to recall the impugned order. However, the said application was also rejected. Hence, the present appeal.

    Court’s observations

    The Apex Court, while addressing the facts of the case, observed that a proxy counsel appeared for the counsel for the appellant/opposite party herein before the NCDRC, seeking an adjournment of the case to address final arguments. However, the NCDRC refused to grant the adjournment for the reason that the appellant/opposite party had filed no written version before the NCDRC.

    To this, the Court emphasised that the opposite party had engaged the counsel to address the arguments on merits.

    However, the fact remains that the counsel was engaged to seek an adjournment in order to address arguments on merits. The opposite party had the right to do so even in the absence of filing its written version against the complaint.”

    In light of these observations, the Court set aside the impugned order solely on the ground of violation of principles of natural justice.

    Since the request for adjournment was refused and only the complainant was heard on merits, we find that there has been a violation of the principles of natural justice. On that short ground alone the impugned orders are set aside.”

    Subsequently, the matter was remanded to the NCDRC in order to grant a reasonable opportunity to both sides to address arguments on merits in the said complaint. The Court held:

    Since both parties are represented by their respective counsel, they shall appear before the NCDRC on 20.09.2023 without expecting any separate notices from the NCDRC. On the said date or on any other convenient date, the NCDRC shall hear the learned counsel for the respective parties on the merits of the complaint and dispose of the same in accordance with law.”

    Advocate-on-Record Ms.Amrita Sarkar appeared for the appellant.

    Case Title: ARN INFRASTRUCTURE INDIA LIMITED v. HARA PRASAD GHOSH, CIVIL APPEAL Diary No(s). 31182/2023

    Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 763

    Click Here To Read/Download Order

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