National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi

K S Chaudhari, Presiding Member and Suresh Chandra, Member

Shishir Vasantkumar Senjit – Petitioner

Versus

M/s Tata Motors Ltd & Anr  – Respondents

Revision Petition No 3082 of 2011                                                                         Decided on 8.3.2013

(From the order dated 05.06.2011 in First Appeal No. A/09/303 of Maharashtra SCDRC, Mumbai)

Consumer Protection Act, 1986 – Sections 15, 17, 19 and 21- Automobile - Manufacturing Defect - Complaint dismissed by State Commission in appeal - In absence of any Manufacturing Defect which would call for justifying replacement of vehicle or refund of price of vehicle by OPs, District Forum erred in awarding refund of price of vehicle by OPs to Petitioner - No case for awarding compensation to Petitioner for loss of income on account of non-availability of vehicle to him - Vehicle did have certain defects which were repaired by Respondents but vehicle again developed some fresh trouble - Petitioner was put to certain inconvenience and also suffered harassment - Lumpsum compensation of Rs. 25,000 awarded   (Para 11).

Important Point

Full price of vehicle cannot be refunded in the absence of any proven Manufacturing Defect.

 

Order

1.Suresh Chandra, Member - This revision petition has been filed by the original Complainant against the order dated 05.06.2011 passed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Maharashtra (in short, ‘the State Commission’), by which the State Commission has allowed the appeal filed by the Opposite Parties (OPs)/Respondents against the order dated 29.01.2009 passed by the Additional District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Pune (in short, ‘the District Forum’) in consumer complaint No. 81 of 2008. Respondents 1 and 2 herein were the Opposite Parties No. 2 and 1, respectively.

2.District Forum by its order had allowed the complaint of the Petitioner in terms of the following directions:

“1. Complaint is allowed. OPs No. 1 and 2 are directed to pay jointly and severally an amount of Rs.5,85,000 to the Complainant and take back the vehicle in dispute from the Complainant, within eight weeks from the date of receipt of copy of this order.

2.Opponent Nos. 1 and 2 are further directed to pay jointly and severally an amount of Rs.10,000 towards compensation within eight weeks from the date of receipt of copy of this order”.

3.As stated above, the State Commission vide its impugned order set aside the aforesaid order of the District Forum and dismissed the complaint while accepting the appeal of the Respondents. 

4.Briefly stated, the Complainant purchased a bus of 410 TATA, 16-seater make from the Respondent-2/OP-1, for the purpose of using the same as a school bus. The bus was manufactured by Respondent-1/OP-2. It was alleged by the Petitioner/Complainant that after he purchased the bus on 25.08.2007, he noticed certain defects relating to 5th gear, wiper and clutch pedal. While the problem of 5th gear was solved, the other problems remained. Thereafter, again on 18.11.2007, he gave the said vehicle for repairs with additional problems of pulling the vehicle on the left hand side and right hand side. The OP charged Rs. 150 for wheel alignment and attended the complaint. Not satisfied with the outcome of the repairs carried out by the OPs, the Petitioner/Complainant lodged a complaint in question on 16.07.2008 before the District Forum, which returned its finding in favour of the Complainant in terms of the aforesaid order. The State Commission vide its impugned order, however, reversed the order of the District Forum and accepted the appeal of the OPs and that is how the Complainant/Petitioner has come to the National Commission through the present revision petition.

5.We have heard the Petitioner, who has pleaded his case before us himself and Aditya Narain, Advocate appearing for both the Respondents. We have also perused the record placed before us.

6.It is submitted by the Petitioner that during the pendency of the appeal of the OPs before the State Commission, it was agreed by the OPs/Respondents that the vehicle would be made road worthy and they would get a certificate to this effect from the College of Engineering, Pune within a period of one and a half months i.e., by 15.01.2010. The Petitioner was, thereafter, surprised to find that the State Commission blamed him for not arranging for the inspection and roadworthy certificate of the vehicle. He, therefore, told the State Commission that OPs were trying to mislead the State Commission about the issuance of certificate of road worthiness by the College of Engineering, Pune, because it did not have an automobile section. After adjourning the matter, the State Commission again passed an order on 16.02.2010 directing that the vehicle should be taken to the workshop by the OPs and the matter was adjourned. Thereafter, on 13.04.2011, i.e., after one and a half years, the State Commission directed the OPs to send the vehicle for examination to the RTO, Pune and thereafter, the OPs submitted before the State Commission that they had got the certificate of road worthiness from the College of Engineering, Pune. His contention was that the bus was lying without use for almost two years with heavy financial loss to him and hence, he approached the National Commission which vide its order dated 06.05.2011 directed the State Commission to expedite the matter. On 05.07.2011, the State Commission disposed of the matter on production of certificate of road worthiness issued by the RTO, Pune; and even though, the OPs had not acted on the undertaking/assurances given by them on 25.11.2009, the State Commission accepted the certificate and the appeal of the OPs and dismissed the complaint. 

7.The main argument put forth by the Petitioner is that the RTO, Pune doesn't have the authority to give road worthiness certificate and they do not have any machinery to check the road worthiness of a vehicle. The Petitioner further submitted that the RTO in a written reply to an application dated 08.07.2011 filed by the Petitioner under the RTI Act, has confirmed that it does not have the authority to issue road worthiness certificate except to the manufacturer only as per the provisions of the Rule 47(g) of the CMVR. The Petitioner, therefore, contended that the certificate of road worthiness of the vehicle in question issued by the Inspector of Motor Vehicles in the office of RTO, Pune on 26.04.2011 was not correct and should not have been relied upon by the State Commission to dismiss the complaint of the Petitioner based on such a certificate. He, therefore, pleaded that the impugned order is liable to be set aside since the response now received from the RTO, Pune clearly indicates that it had no authority to issue the certificate in question (based on which the State Commission has returned its finding against the Petitioner while reversing the order of the District Forum). He submitted that in addition to the award of the District Forum, the Petitioner should also be given compensation for the loss in income suffered on account of non-availability of the bus over a long period.

8.Per contra, learned counsel for the Respondents submitted that the defects, whenever experienced and pointed out by the Complainant/Petitioner, had been attended to and the Petitioner could not establish any manufacturing defect in the vehicle. In such a situation, it was wrong on the part of the District Forum to have allowed the complaint by directing to refund the price of the vehicle and compensation. He submitted that it is well settled legal position that refund of the price or replacement of the vehicle cannot be directed unless manufacturing defects calling for such a direction are proved by the Complainant. He pointed out that even at the appellate stage, an opportunity was given to the Complainant regarding the alleged defects in the vehicle and it was only after the State Commission fully satisfied itself with the vehicle being without such defects, it accepted the appeal by its well-reasoned order. He, therefore, pleaded that there is no merit in the revision petition and the same is liable to be dismissed.

9.We have given our anxious thought to the rival contentions. Keeping in view the submissions made by the parties, the controversy in the present dispute seems to revolve around the hand written certificate dated 26.04.2011 stated to have been issued by one Mr Austin Remedios, Motor Vehicle Inspector in the office of RTO, Pune. We accordingly, summoned the concerned Motor Vehicle Inspector or responsible person from the office of RTO, Pune. In response to our directions, Mr Austin Remedios who had issued the certificate appeared before us on 10th October 2012. He confirmed before us that the certificate in question was issued by him and it is in his own hand writing. However, he denied the top two lines, which read that “(Certificate of Road Worthiness of Vehicle MH 12EF 1711 from RTO, Pune)” were not written by him and appeared to have been added by somebody else since the same were not in his hand writing. He further submitted that he had tested the vehicle in question as per the directions of his RTO given to him on 25.04.2011 and found that the defects noted in his certificate had actually been rectified and the vehicle was found to be road worthy and accordingly, he gave his opinion and submitted the matter to the RTO. In response to another query from us, he clarified that it was not a ‘road worthiness certificate’ as such under Rule 47(g) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, but only a test report submitted by him pursuant to the directions given by the RTO, after testing the vehicle regarding removal of defects and its being in proper running condition and fitness. He further submitted that it is a fact that the RTO does not issue road worthiness certificate as such except to the manufacturer under Rule 47(g) and hence, there is no contradiction between the information stated to have been obtained by the Petitioner under the RTI Act from the office of RTI and the test report submitted by him.

10.We have examined the aforesaid clarificatory statement given by the Inspector of Motor Vehicles with reference to the controversy vis-a-vis the circumstances in which the report was given by the official concerned. In this context, we consider fair and just to reproduce the following observations of the State Commission recorded by it in the impugned order:

“4. We heard both the sides. We made specific enquiry with the learned counsel of the Appellant as to whether the inspection report of vehicle of R B Nagane and Associates is tendered in evidence as per provisional of Section 13(4) of the CPA, 1986. The answer came in negative. Said report is not substantiated by the affidavit of the maker and, hence, cannot be taken into consideration. There is no other evidence to substantiate the case of alleged defects in the vehicle. No manufacturing defect in vehicle is shown or established. The vehicle already had running of 10,490 kms.

5.From the statement of the Respondent/Original Opponent itself, it is seen that whatever complaints were made, were duly attended by the dealer. Therefore, no deficiency in the service on the part of the dealer, M/s Pandit Auto Ltd, could be alleged.

6.It may not be out of place to mention that during the pendency of the appeal, report of the condition of vehicle was obtained from the RTO and said authority as per its report dated 26.04.2011, referring to alleged defects found that the defects were already rectified and the vehicle is in road worthy condition.

7.For the reasons stated above, we find that the Complainant failed to substantiate its case for alleged deficiency in service or in respect of defect in the vehicle. In absence of proof of any manufacturing defect, it is per se erroneous to direct to refund the price of the vehicle as the compensation.”

11.We agree with the view taken by the State Commission. We do not find any substance in the claim made by the Petitioner in respect of genuineness or the legality of the test certificate regarding removal of defects or the road worthiness of the vehicle issued by the Motor Vehicle Inspector. In the absence of any manufacturing defect, which would call for justifying the replacement of vehicle or refund of the price of the vehicle by the OPs, the District Forum erred in awarding the refund of the price of the vehicle by the OPs to the Petitioner. After perusing the interim orders dated 25.11.2009, 15.01.2010, 16.02.2010 and 13.04.2011 of the State Commission (placed on paper-book), we find that the Respondent alone cannot be held guilty of dilly-dallying with a view to delay the resolution of the dispute by the State Commission. Therefore, we do not find any case for awarding compensation to the Petitioner for loss of income on account of non-availability of the vehicle to him. Having said that we do find that admittedly the vehicle did have certain defects, which were repaired by the Respondents but the vehicle again developed some fresh troubles, which were also rectified. But in the process, even though it was a new vehicle, the Petitioner was put to certain inconvenience and also suffered harassment. It cannot be denied that when a person purchases a new vehicle from a reputed manufacturer, one would expect that it would give him trouble-free service for a reasonable period of time. In view of this and keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, which are not in dispute, we consider it appropriate to modify the impugned order and partly accept this revision petition in terms of the following directions:

The Respondents shall jointly and severally pay to the Petitioner a lumpsum compensation of Rs.25,000 in respect of the expenses incurred by him and for the inconvenience, mental agony and harassment suffered by him while using the vehicle.

In the given facts and circumstances, there shall be no other order as to cost.

12.The revision petition stands disposed of in terms of the aforesaid directions.

 

 

 

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