Pecuniary Jurisdiction of Consumer Fora

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  • #3064

      The new Consumer Protection Act, 2019 has enhanced the pecuniary limits of consumer fora. Ques: Is the enhanced pecuniary jurisdiction of the consumer fora has a retrospective effect?

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      • #3065

          The new Consumer Protection Act 2019 has enhanced the pecuniary limits of consumer fora which is provided as under:
          Section 34: District Commission’s pecuniary jurisdiction increased from 20 lacs to Rupees 1 crore

          Section 47: State commission’s pecuniary jurisdiction increased from Rupees 1 crore to Rupees 10 crores

          Section 58: Earlier, the National Commission dealt with cases where value of goods or services paid as consideration exceeded 1 crore. Under the new Act, the limit has been increased to beyond 10 crores.

          Section 107 of the Consumer Protection Act 2019 which repeals the old act saves anything done or any action taken under the old act to the extent it is not inconsistent with the new act. Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 is also relevant in this regard. It provides governing principles which are to apply in case of repeal of any enactment unless there is a different intention. Clause (c) of the section provides that the repeal shall not affect any right, privilege or obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under any repealed statute. Section 6(e) provides that any investigation or proceeding or remedy in respect of such right, liability or punishment etc. shall be done, instituted or enforced as if the repealing act has not been passed. Hence, it is clear that the legislature intended for the consumer protection legislation to be prospective and not retrospective.

        • #3677

            The 2019 Act changed the pecuniary jurisdiction for the District, State and National Commissions, respectively. The pecuniary limit for the District Commission has been increased to up to Rs.1 Crore from up to Rs.20 Lakhs; for State Commission it has been increased to up to Rs.10 Crores from up to Rs.1 Crore; and for National Commission the pecuniary jurisdiction has been increased to over and above Rs.10 Crores as against Rs.1 Crore in the 1986 Act.
            In addition to this, the 2019 Act has also changed the manner for determining the pecuniary jurisdiction for filing the Complaint. Now the pecuniary jurisdiction will be determined on the basis of the value of goods or services paid as consideration as against the 1986 Act wherein, the pecuniary jurisdiction was determined as per the value of goods and services as well as compensation claimed. This would help in doing away the practice of inflating the compensation claimed so as to bring the complaint within the jurisdiction of State or National Commission.
            Recently, a similar situation arose before the Division Bench of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in the case of Pyaridevi Chabiraj Steels Pvt. Ltd. v. National Insurance Company Ltd. & Ors. In this case, the complainant had preferred a complaint before NCDRC challenging the decision of an insurance company for wrongfully repudiating its insurance claim of INR 28.23 crore for restoration of its factory premises.
            The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 when compared with the 1986 Act shows that it provides for greater protection of consumer interests taking into consideration the current age of digitization. The 2019 Act also deals with the technological advancements in the industry, provides for easier filing of complaints and also imposes strict liability on businesses including endorsers for violating the interest of the consumers. Hence, a statute is presumed to have a prospective effect unless it is held to be retrospective.

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