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Consumer law can put cops in order

  Police laxity is a term that most would be familiar with. But "deficiency in service" on part of the police when it comes to maintaining law and order may also enter the common lexicon soon.

When Dadumajra Colony residents Lal Bahadur and his son Rikhi Ram complained in the UT consumer forum against an insurance company and Chandigarh Police under Section 12 of Consumer Protection Act, they set a precedent that could open new doors of litigation against cops. Their motorcycle was stolen from Sector 34 on March 29, 2008. The father-son duo had approached the insurance company, which repudiated their claim, following which they complained against it and cops in the forum.

Though the forum could have dismissed the complaint against the cops terming it "in limine" (through which evidence or one of the parties can be excluded from legal proceedings), it issued a notice to the police seeking their reply. Also, in his reply, SHO of Sector-34 police station did not plead that the complaint was not maintainable and admitted that the vehicle had been stolen. The reply went, "Despite best efforts of police, the motorcycle could not be traced. In these circumstances, there is no deficiency in service on its part and the complaint deserves dismissal."

On Monday, the forum, headed by its president Lakshman Sharma, said, "The complainants have failed to make any case of deficiency in service against UT police and complaint against (them) stands dismissed."

Deciding the case on merit, the forum asked the insurance company to pay Rs 32,741 as claim amount along with Rs 15,000 as compensation for harassment. Advocate Deepak Aggarwal, who represented the father-son duo, said, "People can file cases against police force as all public authorities come under the ambit of CP Act. The tax paid by consumers is treated as a consideration."

"No functionary, according to Supreme Court, exercising statutory powers, can claim immunity except to the extent protected by the statute itself. Public authorities acting in violation of statutory provisions are accountable for their behaviour before authorities like commissions or courts entrusted with responsibility of maintaining the rule of law," added Aggarwal while citing an apex court judgment.

Member of the forum, Siddheshwar Sharma said, "Services provided by department of posts, passport offices, universities, municipal corporations and even administration fall under the ambit of CP Act."

Sources said there were other similar complaints in the pipeline as well. Jagroop Singh Mahal, president of another consumer forum, said, "Whenever there is non-performance of duty by a public authority, including police, people complain under CP Act."

UT SP Madhur Verma said, "Our job is to detect and prevent crime. We don"t charge fees to do that. However, it all depends on the court if it wants to consider our duties as a service under consumer laws


 3 Replies

Kiran Kumar (Lawyer)     26 August 2009

i dont agree with the fact that Police is covered under the definition of service under the CP Act.


police is meant to maintain law and order and maintenance of law and order is a duty of state, its a state function and a basic ingredient of state.....we dont buy police for our protection.


neither we are paying any consideration for the services of the police nor are we making any commercial agreement with the police.


if this has to be the scenario then some one dissatisfied with the order of consumer forum will drag the consumer fourm into consumer forum itself.


in order to deal with the lapses on the part of police various provisions are already contained in IPC, Cr.P.C and other relevant enactments and Services Rules.


its ridiculous to impugne the police inaction in the consumer forums.

1 Like

Prof.A.S.Dalal (Professor)     31 August 2009

 I think , I am in absolute agreement with Kiran Kumar

S.B.adil rahman (Legal Consultant )     28 October 2009

Dear Kiran Kumar Saheb,

A question then arises whether an applicant who pays a fee of Rs 10/- for obtaining information under the Right to Information Act 2005 can sue the Public Information officer and Information Commissioner for not furnishing the desired information within 30 days, terming it to be the deficiency in service in the consumer court?


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