I filed a case before the Maharashtra State Consumer Commission in 2018 against a doctor and hospital for causing my wife’s death. Unfortunately, my case is not moving further despite my completing all formalities. Every time the matter gets adjourned due to some reason or the other. In such circumstances can I request the state commission to refer the matter for mediation?
Pravin Joshi, Andheri
As per the Mediation Rules under the Consumer Protection Act, cases of medical negligence involving death cannot be referred for mediation. However, the Mediation Act, 2023 recently passed by Parliament has proposed deletion of these rules under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. Henceforth all mediation proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Mediation Act, 2023. As such even medical negligence cases resulting into death can also be referred for mediation if the parties so desire or if the Consumer Commission directs such matter for mediation. However, at present the Mediation Act has come into effect only partly and this particular provision is yet to come into effect. Once it comes into force, you can request the State Commission to refer your case for mediation. The advantage of mediated settlement is it has a finality and there is no scope for further appeal and second appeal since whatever the settlement it is arrived with conscious consent of both the parties.
A friend of mine, a foreign national, had recently visited India and stayed in a hotel in Mumbai where he had a lot of issues from the time of check-in till departure after four dlater ays. When he, with his family including a small two-year- old child, checked in at 3pm the room was not ready and the family had to wait for almost an hour in the lobby. As per the booking the checking in time was 1pm but the room was not ready even at 3pm. Room service was pathetic. Laundry delivery was delayed. On complaining, the management only apologised. He wants to file a case against under the Consumer Protection Act. Can a foreign national do that?
Pooja Joshi, Thane
The Consumer Protection Act defines ‘complainant’ and it includes ‘consumer’. The Act also defines ‘consumer’ as ‘any person’ who buys goods or hires any service for consideration. The Act does not say that the complainant or consumer has to be an Indian national. Hence your friend can indeed file the complaint. He can do that online through government’s e-daakhil portal.
I read with interest in this column your answer on noon check-in / checkout and how hotels overcharge customers. Even I had the same experience. I checked into a hotel in Delhi last month at 7.30am and checked out at 6pm the same day, but was charged for two days. Can I file a complaint in Consumer Court?
Alok Hardikar, Vile Parle
Any consumer who is overcharged can always approach Consumer Court. As such, technically it may not amount to ‘overcharging’ and hence not advisable to move the Consumer Court. However, it is prima facie unfair on the part of hotels to charge customers for two days when his stay is hardly for 12 hours. Hence you can complain to the Central Consumer Protection Authority at email id: firstname.lastname@example.org. by giving details of your booking and hotel bill / receipt.
(The author is the chairman of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat)