A Bench comprising Justices L S Panta and B Sudershan Reddy stayed the ruling of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which was challenged by a large number of advocate bodies after lawyers raised a hue and cry over the prospect of being sued by clients for deficient service.
The appeals were filed by Bar of Indian Lawyers, Delhi High Court Bar Association and Bar Council of India. One of the lawyers' bodies represented by advocate Jasbir Malik argued that lawyers rendered legal assistance and not service to the clients. One Devender Kumar Gandhi had filed a complaint before District Consumer Redressal Forum alleging deficiency of service against his lawyer M Mathai. The district forum on June 1, 2000, held the lawyer liable and asked him to pay Rs 3,000 as compensation for mental agony and another Rs 1,000 as cost.
On the appeal filed by the lawyer, the state commission reversed the finding and said that lawyers were not liable to be proceeded against as the services rendered by them did not come within the ambit of the consumer law.
However, the NCDRC set aside the state commission's verdict and held that if there was deficiency in service rendered by lawyers, complaint under Consumer Protection Act was maintainable against them.