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Home > SC > Civil Law > Consumer Protection Act > HOUSING BOARD HARYANA Vs. HOUSING BOARD COLONY WELFAREASSOCIATION & ORS.



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HOUSING BOARD HARYANA Vs. HOUSING BOARD COLONY WELFAREASSOCIATION & ORS.

Posted on 01 April 2009 by jyoti

Title

HOUSING BOARD HARYANA Vs. HOUSING BOARD COLONY WELFAREASSOCIATION & ORS.



Coram

FAIZAN UDDIN (J)



Act

Consumer Protection Act



Subject

Consumer Protection Act, 1986/Haryana Consumer Protection Rules, 1988 :

Ss. 15,30(2) rr.4(10), 8(3)-Order of District Forum-Appeal against- Period
of Limitation-Order pronounced by District Forum on 22.10.1992 but not
signed by President of Forum on that date-Duly attested copies made
available to parties on 30.10.1992-Appeal filed before State Commission on
30.11.1992 as 29.11.1992 was Sunday--Held, appeal filed within limitation-
No application for condonation of delay required-Date of pronouncement of
order in open Court cannot by itself be starting point for determining
period of limitation-It has also to be shown that Forum order was duly
signed and dated by members of District Forum and was communicated to
parties free of charge.

The dispute between the appellant-Board and the respondent-allot-tees with
regard to enhancement of price of the land and the additional demand raised
by the Board was taken up to the District Consumer Forum by the allottees.
The District Forum by its order dated 22.10.1992 allowed the claim of
allottees and quashed the additional demand made by the Board. The Board
filed appeals before the State Commission on 30.11.1992. The State
Commission dismissed the appeals holding that the same were filed beyond
the period of limitation as provided under section 15 of the Consumer
Protection Act, 1986 and no sufficient cause for condonation of delay was
pleaded. The Board filed revision petition before the National Consumer
Disputes Redressal Commission, which maintained the order of the State
Commission. Aggrieved, the Board filed the appeals.

It was submitted on behalf of the appellant-Board that though the President
of the District Forum had pronounced the order on 22.10.1992 in open Court,
he did not sign the said order on that date and proceeded on leave; the
order was attested and certified on 30.10.1992 and a copy thereof was
furnished to the appellant only on 3.11.1992; since 29.11.1992 was Sunday,
the Board filed appeals before the State Commission on 30.11.1992 i.e.
within one month from 30.10.1992, the date on which the attested and
certified copy of the order was supplied to the appellant, and thus the
appeals before the State Commission were filed within the period prescribed
under section 15 of the Act.



Citation

1996 AIR 92, 1995( 3 )Suppl.SCR 219, 1995( 5 )SCC 672, 1995( 5 )SCALE89 , 1995( 6 )JT 293



Head Notes

Allowing the appeals, this Court

HELD: 1.1. The date of pronouncement of the order in the open court by
itself cannot be the starting point for determining the period of
limitation under Section 15 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. It has
also to be shown that the order of the District Forum so pronounced was
duly signed and dated by the members of the District Forum constituting the
Bench and the same was communicated to the parties free of charge. [226-B-
C]

12. Section 15 of the Act cannot be read in isolation but it has to be read
along with Rules 4(10) and 8(3) of the Haryana Consumer Protection Rules,
1988. A combined reading of section 15 of the Act, and Rules 4(10) and 8(3)
of the Rules indicates that the purpose, object and intention of these
statutory provisions is to protect the interest of the parties before the
District Forum by making it obligatory on the District Forum to provide a
copy of the order duly singed and dated by the members of the Bench and the
period of limitation prescribed with regard to the filing of an appeal
shall be computed as commencing from the date of communication of the order
in the manner laid down in sub-rule (10) of Rule 4. Since rule 4 (10) of
the Rules enjoins a duty for communicating the order of the District Forum
duly signed and dated to the parties free of charge, there will hardly be
an occasion for the parties to make an application for obtaining a
certified copy thereof. [225-G-H; 226-A-B; 225-F]

13. In the instant case, though the order was pronounced by District Forum
in the open Court on 22.10.1992, it was not singed and dated, as the
President had proceeded on leave soon thereafter. It was also the case of
the appellant that the counsel for the appellant-Board was informed that
the order would be dictated and typed after the return of the President and
that the copy would be made available to the parties only on 30.10.1992
under the signature of the President; and the copy was in fact made
available to the counsel for the appellant only on 3.11.1992. The counsel
appearing for the appellant-Board before the National Commission had filed
his own affidavit affirmed these facts which have not been controverted by
the respondents. On the contrary, in the reply filed in this Court on
behalf of the respondents it has been admitted that copies of the order of
the District Forum were ready with the office on 30.10.1992 which were
collected by the counsel for the respondent on 30.10.1992 and by the
counsel for the Board on 3.11.1992. [226-E-G]

1.4. From the facts of the case it is abundantly clear that the copies were
duly singed and dated by the members of the Forum on 30.10.1992. That being
so, the period of limitation will commence from the date on which the
copies of the order were ready and made available i.e., 30.10.1992. The
appeals were filed before the State Commission on 30.11.1992 and since
29.11.1992 was Sunday, the appeals were prima facie within time. There was,
thus, no question of making any application for condonation of delay in
filing the appeals as there was no delay at all. [227-B-C]

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal Nos. 7849-51 of 1995.



Judgment Made On

09/01/1995

JUDGMENT:
J U D G M E N T
Faizan Uddin, J.
1. Delay condoned.
2. Leave granted.
3. The appellant Housing Board is a statutory body
constituted for the purposes of providing cheap and
economical housing facilities. The land for construction of
tenements is provided by Haryana Urban Development Authority
(hereinafter HUDA) which is also a statutory body. The land
is acquired by the appellant-Board from HUDA under
stipulation with regard to enhancement in the price of the
land consequent upon judicial pronouncement. The appellant-
Board invited applications for allotment of houses/flats
from the economically weaker section, belonging to LIG/MIG
category. The appellant -Board issued allotment letters to
various appellant specifically mentioning in clause (9) of
the allotment letters that as a result of the land award or
arbitration proceedings, etc. if there is an increase in the
cost, the Board may enhance the price of the dwelling
houses/flats allotted to them. This condition was reiterated
in Clause 2 (W) of the Hire Purchase Tenancy Agreement (Form
A) entered into under Section 11 (4) of the Housing Board,
Haryana (Allotment, Management & Sale of Tenements )
Regulations. 1972. It was also provided that there shall be
no enhancement in the price after a period of 7 years from
the date of allotment. According to the appellant - Board,
this Clause 2(W) of Form 'A' of the Regulations was,
however, amended by a notification dated 26.5.1985 whereby a
proviso was inserted to the effect that the restriction of 7
years shall not be applicable when the escalation in the
price is due to judicial pronouncement or award of an
arbitrator.
4. Consequent upon the judicial pronouncements enhancing the
compensation granted to the land owners, HUDA also raised an
additional demand on 5.3.1992 on the appellant-Board
demanding a sum amounting to Rs. 27,96,011.80
(approximately) for the land given to the appellant-Board.
In pursuance of this demand by HUDA, the appellant-Board in
turn, issued additional demand letters to its various
allottees of the houses/flats towards the enhanced price of
the land as per terms of the agreement and the regulations.
In order to avoid payment of interest on the demand by HUDA
the appellant-Board paid the entire amount to HUDA in May,
1992 including the interest that had accrued till the date
of said payment.
5. Three complaints were made before the District Consumer
Forum, Kurukshetra by the respondents herein in the three
appeals against aforementioned additional demand raised by
the appellant-Board by contending that in view of Clauses 2
(W) of the agreement the additional demand was barred by
time having been made after more than 7 years of the
allotment of houses/flats. The appellant-Board defended the
said complaints by disputing the jurisdiction of the
Consumer Forum to entertain such a complaints besides other
grounds of attack. The appellant-Board took the stand that
there was no 'service' rendered within the meaning of clause
'O' of sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Consumer
Protection Act, 1986 (hereinafter the Act) nor there was nay
'deficiency' in the service within the meaning of clause (g)
of Section 2 (1) of the Act. According to the appellant the
dispute, if any, related to an alleged breach of the terms
of contract for which the remedy lies in the Civil Court and
not in the Consumer Forum.
6. The District Forum by its order dated 22.10.1992
rejected the objections and defence set up by the appellant-
Board, allowed all the three complaints and quashed the
additional demand made by the appellant-Board. The
appellant-Board filed three separate appeals on 30.11.1992
before the State Commission against the aforementioned order
dated 22.10.1992 quashing the additional demands. The State
Commission took the view that all the three appeals as were
filed beyond the prescribed period of limitation under
Section 15 of the Act and as no sufficient cause for
condonation was pleaded, dismissed all the three appeals as
barred by time. Being aggrieved by the aforementioned order
of the State Commissions passed in First Appeals Nos. 389,
390, and 391 of 1992, the appellant-Board preferred Revision
Petitions before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal
Commission, New Delhi (hereinafter 'National Commission')
being Revision Petition Nos. 66 to 68/1993. The National
Commission maintained the order of State Commission and
dismissed all the three revisions by a common order dated
7.1.1993 impugned in these appeals.
7. Learne counsel for the appellant-Board submitted that
the President of the District Forum had pronounced the order
dated 22.10.1992 in open Court and after such pronouncement
of the order he proceeded on leave. Since the President had
not signed the said order before proceeding on leave, the
same was not made available to the appellant. The said order
was however, attested and certified on 30.10.1992 a copy
whereof was furnished to the appellant only on 3.11.1992.
Since 29.11.1992 was a Sunday the appeals before the State
Commission were filed on 30.11.1992. According to the
learned counsel for the appellant the appeals were filed
within one month from 30.10.1992, the date on which the
attested and certified copy of the order was supplied to the
appellant. Learned counsel for the appellant venemently
urged that according to sub-rule (10) of Rule 4 of the
Haryana Consumer Protection Rules, 1988 it was obligatory on
the part of the District Forum to furnish signed and dated
copy of the order free of charge to the appellant and that
such a copy was furnsihed to the appellant on 30.10.1992
and, therefore, the appeals filed before the State
Commission on 30.11.1992, would be within the prescribed
limitation under Section 15 of the Act and there was no
question or making any application for condonations of delay
in filing the appeals. He further submitted that the
appellant-Board could not have filed the appeals against the
order of the District Forum on the basis of mere
pronouncement thereof in the open Court unless the contents
of the order were made available to the appellant for the
purposes of preparing the appeal and challenging the same in
the higher Forum. Learned counsel for the appellant,
therefore, urged that the State Commission as well as the
National Commission both committed a serious error in
dismissing the appeals and the revisions on the ground that
the same were barred by time and no sufficient cause for
condonation of delay was pleaded.
8. Before considering the merits of the submissions made
by the learned counsel for the appellant it would be
appropriate first to look into the relevant provisions
relating to the limitation. Section 15 of the Act makes a
provision for appeal and prescribes the limitation for the
same. It reads as under:
15. Appeal.-- Any person aggrieved by an
order made by the District Forum may
prefer an appeal against such order to
the State Commission within a period of
thirty days from the date of an order,
in such form and manner as may be
prescribed.
Provided further that the State
Commission may entertain an appeal after
the expiry of the said period of thirty
days if it is satisfied that there was
sufficient cause for not finding it
within that period.
9. Further the State Government made Rules under Sub-
Section (2) of Section 30 of the Act known as the Haryana
Consumer Protection Rules, 1988 (hereinafter referred as
Rules). Sub-rule (10) of Rules 4 and Sub-rule (3) of Rule 8
which are relevant for purposes of these appeals are
reproduced hereunder:
Rule 4 (10). -- "Orders of the District
Forum shall be signed and dated by the
members of the District Forum
constituting the Bench and shall be
communicated to the parties free of
charge."
Rule 8 (3). -- "Each memorandum shall be
accompanied by the certified copy of the
order of the District Forum appealed
against and such of the documents as may
be required to support grounds of
objection mentioned in the Memorandum."
10. Reading of the provisions of Section 15 reproduced
above goes to show that any person aggrieved by an order
made by the District Forum may prefer an appeal to the State
Commission within a period of 30 days from the date of the
order. But under the proviso the State Commission is
enjoined with the discretion to entertain the appeal even
after the expiry of the period of 30 days if it is satisfied
that there was sufficient cause for not filing the appeal
within 30 days from the date of order. Section 15 does not
prescribe any other requirement for the purposes of filing a
proper and valid appeal to the State Commission. The other
requirements for a properly constituted appeal are
contained in Sub-rule (3) of Rule 8 which contemplates that
each Memorandum of Appeal shall be accompanied by a
certified copy of the order of the District forum appealed
against and such other documents as may be required to
support the grounds of objection mentioned in the Memorandum
of Appeal. Sub-rule (10) of Rule 4 further makes it
obligatory that the order of the District Forum shall not
only be signed and dated by the members of the District
Forum constituting the Bench but it enjoins a duty to
communicate the order so passed signed and dated by the
members of the District Forum, to the parties free of
charge.
11. From the scheme of the Act it becomes apparent that the
Consumer Protection Act 1986 has been enacted with the
object to provide for better protection of the interest of
the consumers, as a measure for economical and speedy remedy
for the settlement of their disputes and matters connected
therewith. It is with this object in view that Rule 4 (10)
has also been made. It provides for communication of the
order of the district Forum to the parties free of charge in
order to avoid the delay as well as to save the parties from
the burden of expenses that may be incurred for obtaining
the certified copy. If the rule itself enjoins a duty for
communicating the order of the District Forum duly signed
and dated to the parties free of charge, there will hardly
be an occasion for the parties to make an application for
obtaining a certified copy thereof. Thus, Section 15 of the
Act cannot be read in isolation but it has to be read
alongwith Rules 4 (10) and 8 (3) of the Rules and a
combined reading of Section 15 and the Rules reproduced
above gives an impression that the purposes, object and
intention of these statutory provisions is to protect the
interest of the parties before the District Forum by making
it obligatory on the District Forum to provide a copy of the
order duly signed and dated by the members of the Bench and
the period of limitation prescribed with regard to the
filing of an appeal shall be computed as commencing from the
date of communication of the order in the manner laid down
in sub-rule (10) of the Rule 4.
12. In the facts and circumstances stated above. The date
of pronouncement of the order in the open Court by itself
cannot be the starting point of determining the period of
limitation under Section 15 of the Act. It has also to be
shown that the order of the District Forum so pronounced was
duly singed and dated by the members of the District Forum
constituting the Bench and the same was communicated to the
parties free of the charge. That being so, it has to be
appreciate that mere pronouncement of an order in the open
Court will not be enough but under the scheme of the Rules a
copy of the said order has also to be communicated to the
parties affected by the aid order so that the party
adversely affected therefrom may have a fair and reasonable
opportunity of knowing that text, reasons and contents
thereof so as to formulate grounds of attack before the
appellant or higher forums. In the absence of such
communication of signed and dated order, the party adversely
affected by it will have no means of knowing the contents of
the order so as to challenge the same and get it set aside
by the appellate authority or the higher Forums.
13. In the present case as aid before the State Commission
the appellant contended that the order was pronounced by the
District Forum in the open Court on 22.10.1992, it was not
signed and dated as the President had proceeded on leave
soon thereafter and therefore, neither the reasons on which
the said order was based were known nor a copy thereof was
furnished to the appellant-Board so as to know the reasons
and contents of the order. It was also the case of the
appellant that on an enquiry by the counsel for the
appellant-Board he was informed by the Stenographer of the
President that the order would be dictatated and typed after
the return of the President and that the copy would be made
available to the parties only on 30.10.1992 under the
signature of the President and the copy was in fact made
available to the counsel for the appellant only on
3.11.1992. It may be pointed out that Shri Tirath Singh,
learned counsel appearing for the appellant-Board before the
National Commission had filed his own affidavit affirming
these facts which have not been controverted by the
respondents. On the contrary the reply filed in this Court
by Shri K.C. Chug, President, Housing Board Colony Welfare
Association, Kurukshetra on behalf of the respondents has
admitted that in the present case free copies were ready
with the office on 30.10.1992 which were collected by the
counsel for the answering respondent on 30.10.1992 whereas
the counsel for the petitioner got the same on 3.11.1992.
From these facts it is abundantly clear that the copies were
duly signed and dated by the members of the forum on
30.10.1992. That being so the period of limitation in view
of the above discussion will commence from the date on which
the copies of the order were ready and made available i.e.
30.10.1992. In the present case the appeals were filed
before the State Commission on 30.11.1992 and since
29.11.1992 was Sunday, the appeals were prima facie within
time. In these facts and circumstance there was no question
of making any application for condonation of delay in filing
the appeals as there was no delay at all.
14. For the reasons stated above the appeals succeed and
are hereby allowed. The impugned orders of the National
Commission and the State Commission are set aside. The
appeals are remitted back to the State Commission for
disposal on merits in accordance with law. No order as to
costs.






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