Jago Grahak Jago

Jago Grahak Jago Logo

A Company Can File Complaint Under Consumer Protection Act: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court observed that a consumer complaint filed by a company is maintainable.

The court rejected the contention that the word ‘company’ is not covered within the definition of ‘person’ under Section 2(1)(m) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The Court observed thus in an appeal under Section 67 of 2019 Act preferred by Kozyflex Mattresses Private Limited (KMPL) against the final order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) by which it rejected the consumer case against the SBI General Insurance Company Limited.

The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta noted that the Consumer Protection Act of 2019, has brought a body corporate within the definition of ‘person’, and said: “This by itself indicates that the legislature realized the incongruity in the unamended provision and has rectified the anomaly by including the word ‘company’ in the definition of ‘person’.Hence, the first preliminary objection raised by learned counsel for the respondent regarding ‘company’ not being covered by the definition of ‘person’ under Act of 1986 has no legs to stand and deserves to be rejected.”

Advocate Krishna Kumar Singh represented the appellant while Advocate D. Vardhrajan represented the respondents.

In this case, the appellant company (insured) prayed for the direction to the insurance company (insurer) to indemnify it for the loss caused by fire in the insured premises being the manufacturing unit of the insured. The insured was engaged in the business of manufacture and sale of coir foam mattresses, pillows, cushions, and other coir by-products. It obtained a ‘Standard Fire and Special Perils Policy (Material Damage)’ and by an endorsement, the sum insured for stock was further enhanced. It was claimed that a massive fire incident took place in the manufacturing unit of the insured and an immediate action by way of informing the police and fire service station was taken and fire tenders were sent to the spot.

The insured submitted an insurance claim for a sum of Rs. 3.31 crores i.e. Rs. 40,11,152/- for building, Rs.1,08,47,435/- for plant and machinery and Rs.1,87,72,489/- for stock. The insured made a representation to the Grievance Redressal Manager against the repudiation of its claim and the same did not meet the desired result, upon which the insured filed a complaint before the National Commission. The complaint was dismissed as withdrawn with the liberty to file a fresh complaint and thereafter, the subject complaint was filed, alleging deficiency in service on the part of the insurer. The National Commission upheld the repudiation letter, rejecting the complaint and hence, the insured approached the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case noted, “The insured-appellant has taken a pertinent plea in the instant civil appeal that the copies of the surveyor’s report and the investigators’ report were not provided timely and thus, the insured-appellant did not get proper opportunity to rebut the same. This pertinent plea taken by the insured-appellant in the memo of appeal has not been specifically refuted and only a formal denial was offered in the counter-affidavit filed by the insurer-respondent.”

The Court further said that the ends of justice require that the insured should have been provided proper opportunity to file its rebuttal/objections to the affidavit/reports submitted by the insurer before the National Commission and consequently, the complaint should be reconsidered on merits after providing such opportunity to the appellant.

“… the appellant shall be permitted to file its rebuttal/rejoinder affidavit before the National Commission limited to the contents of the reports referred to supra. Thereafter, the matter shall be reheard and decided on merits afresh”, it directed.

Accordingly, the Apex Court disposed of the appeal, set aside the impugned order, and remitted the matter to National Commission for considering and deciding the complaint afresh.

Cause Title- M/s. Kozyflex Mattresses Private Limited v. SBI General Insurance Company Limited and Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 234)

Appearance:
Appellant: Advocate Krishna Kumar Singh, AOR Sravan Kumar Karanam, Advocates Tayade Pranali Gowardhan, Mamatha Ralla, Rudroji Rakesh Kumar, and Shaik Sohil Akthar.
Respondents: Advocates D. Vardhrajan, Rajat Khattry, Shagun Ruhil, and AOR Abhay Kumar.

Source: Verdictum

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *