The Section 2 (42) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 says
(42) “service” means service of any descripttion which is made available to potential users and includes, but not limited to, the provision of facilities in connection with banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, supplying electrical or other energy, telecom, boarding or lodging or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service.
As one can see, the Act does cover services rendered free of charge. A co-operative housing collects funds from its members to defray various expenses on behalf of the members. Excess amount, if any, collected should be credited back to the account of the members or adjusted against future expenditure. The Society cannot make any profit. The term 'profit' is used to mean any excess collected from the members. Hence a Co-operative Housing Society is not a service provider under the Consumer Protection Act.
Actually the lawyer of the Co-operative Housing Society can file a writ of prohibiton in the High Court against the Consumer court. But the lawyers are not generally that knowledgeable..
If leakage happens from an upper floor to a lower floor either the upper floor member or the Society or both may be responsible. It is necessary to sue both of them. The consumer court will say that the upper floor member is not a service provider and that the court cannot issue orders against him.
Actually such cases should go to the cooperative court which can issue orders to both the Society and the upper floor member.
The complaint of the member is that the Society is asking him to defray its legal expenses of the Society. If the case is dimissed with costs, the complainant will have to pay the costs. Otherwise the Society will have to pay. What is the source of income of the Society? The Society will have to recover the cost from all the members including the complainant member. If the complainant has to complain against the General Body resolution, he will have to complain to the registrar or to the co-operative court.
In a similar case in Mumbai 10 years back, the consumer court ordered the Society to pay and let off the upper floor member. The Society held a General Meeting to ask the members to contribute. The resolution could not be passed as the members refused to pass it. Only co-operative courts can handle such cases.