Consumer Related Issues

Q. I have instituted a complaint before the Consumer Court against a Medical Practitioner. My complaint has been challenge on the ground that a Medical Practitioner cannot be sued under the Consumer Act. What does law provide?

A. Yes, a medical practitioner can be sued under the Consumer Protection Act 1986 for his or her professional negligence resulting in damage to patient. Section 2 (d) in defining a consumer in Clause (ii) uses the expression ‘hires and avails of”. The word “hire” means employ of wages or fees”. Secondly the words “any service” in s. 2 (d) (ii) in Consumer Protection Act. A eloquent to bring the delinquent medical practitioners within the ambit of Consumer Protection Act. Thirdly, s. 2 (o), Consumer Protection Act which defines service exempts only two types of services, one “service free of charge” and another “contract of personal service” postulates a relationship of master and servant. A medical man whose service is requisitioned for a patient answers the clause “contract of service” but never “a contract of personal service”. So, a negligent medical professional can be answerable under the Consumer Protection Act 1986.

Q. Does rejection of application for grant of loan by a Bank constitute deficiency in service for which I can approach the Consumer Court?

A. The Bank has a wide discretion in the matter of granting loans and advances and continuing disbursement of loans sanctioned .The Consumer Courts cannot sit in judgement over the discretion exercised by the Bank and as such you will not succeed in any such action, if taken by you.

Q. I know about Consumer Protection Act and understand that under the act a complain has to be made within 2 years from the date on which the cause of action arose. What happens in a case where the 2 year period has elapsed because the I spent the time writing(and replying to) to the manufacturer in the hope that he would replace the good? What argument can I give to the Forum in response to the plea of 2 years which I know will be taken by the manufacturer? Please guide me.

A. It is correct that the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides for a limitation period of two years for filing a complaint and the period of limitation starts from the date when the cause of action first arose. The relevant provision is provided under Section 24-A of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. However, the Consumer Forum has the power to entertain a complaint even after the expiry of the period of limitation to file the complaint and entertain the same in case it is convinced that the complaint could not be filed within the limitation period owing to sufficient cause which in its opinion would not have been possible. Thus you would have to give a good explanation in order to have the delay condoned from the Consumer Forum. In case the only ground pleaded by you is that you were corresponding with the Manufacturer and hoping to get the goods replaced, the same would not be construed as sufficient reasons for condoning the delay.

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