I have filed a complaint before Pune District Commission against an insurance company for wrongly denying my claim. Now the company has filed its written reply 65 days after getting the notice from the commission along with a request for condonation of delay? I am party in person. Can I object to the company’s application being taken on record?
Ashish Datar, Pune
You must oppose the application of the company for condonation of delay in filing written version within the prescribed period of 30 days. Section 38 (2) (a) of the Act has mandated that the opposite party shall file its written version within 30 days. This period may be extended, at the discretion of the commission, by a further period of 15 days and no more. The Supreme Court’s five-judge bench in the New India Assurance Co vs Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage Pvt Ltd case, has clearly ruled that consumer commissions at district, state and national level do not have any power to extend the time to file the written version beyond the period of 15 days in addition to 30 days. The Supreme Court has made it clear that this is a mandatory provision in the Act and all consumer commissions are required to adhere to it. Since this is the settled law by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, the delay condonation application of the company is bound to be rejected by the district commission.
I had booked commercial space for my new hospital in Malad admeasuring 2000square feet with a well-known builder in October 2016. Proper agreement for sale was executed with promised date of possession being September 2019. I have so far paid Rs4 crore (almost 80%) to the builder. The work is now completely at standstill for the past year with almost 70% construction work complete. The builder is avoiding giving any satisfactory answers about when he will be able to give me possession. I am therefore planning to initiate legal action against him. I want to know whether I should approach consumer court or MahaRERA.
Dr MSV, Mumbai
Yours being a ‘commercial transaction’, you are not a ‘consumer’ as defined under Sec 2 (7) (i) of the Consumer Protection Act. Hence your complaint will not be maintainable before the consumer commission. In RERA Act, there is no such discrimination between the person buying property for ‘commercial purpose’ and a person buying it for personal use. Persons in both these categories are considered ‘allottees’ under RERA. Thus, since you have purchased the place for commercial purpose, you will have to file your complaint before MahaRERA. For your dispute resolution under RERA, you have two options available: Pay fee of Rs5,000 + GST and file a complaint in MahaRERA for getting interest towards delay in handing over the possession for entire period of delay along with a complaint before the adjudicating officer of MahaRERA for compensation and possession. Or, alternatively, you may file conciliation request. If the promoter/builder accepts your request, MahaRERA will ask you to pay fees of Rs1,000 + GST. Thereafter, your complaint will be referred to MahaRERA conciliation bench for dispute resolution through mutual settlement.
I purchased a fridge on March 12, 2023, and instructed the shop to deliver it on March 22 on Gudi Padwa. Accordingly, it was delivered and installed on March 22. Within two days, I found the freezer was defective and cooling was not proper. I complained to the shopkeeper, who sent a technician who certified that the cooling was not proper. As per the terms, if I report any defect within three days then I am eligible to get free replacement. But now they are refusing to replace my defective piece. Please advise.
Nitin Sontakke, Vikhroli
Available remedies for you for defective goods are National Consumer Helpline, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and mediation. It’s your contention that three days’ replacement period promised to you starts from the date of delivery, ie from March 22. Though logically this period should start from the date of delivery, some warranties start from the date of purchase, while others start from the date of delivery or installation. Thus it is recommended to carefully read the warranty terms and conditions. If your warranty starts from the date of delivery, you are eligible to get the defective piece replaced. Even if your warranty starts from the date of payment, the fact remains that the refrigerator delivered to you is defective. In such case, you have following options: Lodge a complaint before the National Consumer Helpline. You can either go to the website of NCH and file your complaint online or call on 1800-11-4000 or 1915 to lodge your complaint. NCH will help solve your complaint by approaching the party against whom you have complained. The Mumbai Grahak Panchayat has started conciliation andmediation centre called ‘SAMET’ where you can file your mediation request online at email@example.com. If your complaint is not resolved by NCH or through such conciliation/ mediation you can approach District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and file your complaint. Once you file your complaint before the commission, you may request the president to refer your complaint for mediation. Under Chapter V of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, there is a specific provision to refer a complaint to the mediation cell, annexed to the commission.
(Dr Archana Sabnis is an expert on consumer laws who is practising at consumer disputes redressal fora at district, state and national levels since 2000. She is on the panel of conciliators of Maha RERA and is associated with the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat)
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