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New Delhi dated 29 May, 2024: A new term ‘Artistic Justice’ needs an entry into our law dictionary, basing its strength on the intrigue line of Mr. Daniel Pink that, “Artists give people something they didn’t know they were missing”. The recent order dated 21 May, 2024 Tuesday), as found to have been uploaded on 27 May, 2024 (Monday), passed by the bench presided over by Sh. Suresh Kumar Gupta, Ld. President along with Ms. Harshali Kaur and Sh. Ramesh Chand Yadav, Ld. Members of the Hon’ble District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, South-West District, Delhi leaves much to be desired from a quasi-judicial body to have entered into such an area of electing to adjourn matter in a judicial proceedings on account of too much heat leading to sweating due to non-availability/non-provisioning of Air-Conditioner or Cooler in light of temperature being more than 40 degree Celsius and no water supply being there in the washrooms to ease themselves by recording such a state of affairs in their order. Adding apathy to it, the Hon’ble commission directed that a copy of its order be also sent to the Secretary-cum-Commissioner, Head of Department, Food Supplies & Consumer Affairs Dept., Government of NCT of Delhi ‘for information’ only. The order, which undoubtedly a precedent and not for good reasons though, has more to it, besides the plain black and white, which has perpetuated the injustice against the complainant consumers and indirectly assisted the opposite businesses in defeating the saying that, ‘Consumer is a King’, while giving the justice seekers a taste of their own choice to have elected to fight against the illegal practices of the businesses with unabated and unreasoned wait of time with money and efforts being spent to long for a paltry sum of compensation as a win, which is generally found to an actual lost battle, when analyzed in terms of economics and logic.

Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum VII

The story of a Delhi Police Inspector, now retired, Sh. Sanjay Goswami, has his own set of reasons to boil after reading this order, for the case in which he fought for his self-respect having its basis in the issue of ‘Contact Identity’. Taking an excerpt from the order dated 23.02.2018 itself, his story is that he was having two mobile numbers, first mobile number is 98100XXXXX which was initially issued by M/s Bharti Airtel Limited to him and he was using the same number for very long time. The second number i.e. XXXX000700 was also in his name which was initially issued to him by M/s Idea Mobile Services (not a party) which was subsequently ported with the Bharti Airtel later. He had a grievance alleging that the second number was never activated by the Bharti Airtel after porting; however, the Bharti Airtel subsequently had raised the demand of INR 890/- (approx.) which according to him was not the correct bill amount. Hence, he did not make the payment of the said amount and raised the dispute with the Bharti Airtel at different levels. However, he alleged that in order to persuade him to make the payment of the said bill amount, the Bharti Airtel had disconnected the services of the first number as well. Although he got an interim relief, he still struggled to get it activated after a few days besides having to defend the maintainability of his consumer petition before the Hon’ble Commission, but having got the pleadings, including filing of written final arguments, completed way back in the middle of the year 2019, his matter is being repeatedly adjourned for ‘Arguments’ despite protesting it one after another. He believes that his fight for ‘Contact Identity’ is an important issue, which needs an immediate decision, and the following extract of his written arguments delves into that issue head-on:

“8. That the complainant being a public servant with Delhi Police has suffered ignominy of the departmental officers, besides severe embarrassment from the senior officials when faced with explanation for non-functioning of the mobile number having been deactivated by the opposite party. Further, the regular police duties were immensely affected due to disconnect established between members of the public and other stakeholders who perpetually relied upon the belief of establishing contact with the complainant through the said mobile number for both official and non-official needs. That further, it is of general outlook and perception that deactivation of mobile number of a police official proves his inefficiency and lack of authority which caused irreparable loss of respect, image and stature besides emotional hardships consisting of loss of peace of mind in the limited personal life and extended public life while suffering mental harassment and loss of focus during tumultuous time only by reason of actions and inactions of the opposite party. Additionally, the complainant was devoid of contact with the rest of the world, primarily established through the medium of cellphone and there was total loss of ‘contact identity’ which is inherent in a particular mobile number being used and retained for long period of time, which in this case, has been for over a decade or so.  It is significant to note the opposite party is a large organization handling crores of subscribers across the nation and worldwide and therefore has always been in a dominant position as against the gullible consumers.”

Sanjay Goswaml Vs Bharti Airtcc ltd

He exasperatedly questions the stand of the Hon’ble Commission, as reflected in the order passed, by which means he believes that, every policeman on duty in scorching heat must recede and return, and does not shy away in stating that if there are in fact certain problems, then those should sought to be taken up at the right level, but he ponders as to why the pen always writes against the weak complainants only. Another argument sought to be put forth by him is that if it is a case of ambient temperature to be so maintained for hearing the final arguments, for which he has already got a letter written to be detailed hereinafter, the concept of Virtual Hearing should have been explored, rather than choosing to suspend the judicial work altogether, which has allowed the businesses to have the merry-making. He largely harps on the belief that if an employment carries the burden of an inappropriate working atmosphere, the choice is always on the person to continue it or drop it, but having elected to enjoy the salary and perks on one hand and not doing the work in a justice delivery system, is a double whammy for all the connected stakeholders, whatsoever be the genuine reason(s) underlying that. He says but at the same time find himself reluctant from attempting to rent out an AC or Cooler along with purchasing a 20 Litre Water Can to be put up there for the days when the arguments in his case are made by his counsel, if at all found to be so necessary by the Hon’ble Commission, although he has already conveyed his submissions for the decision to be made on the basis of pleadings only.

The infrastructural woes at the Hon’ble Consumer Commissions is not new to hear, after a spell of a few years every time something happens, and despite the initiation of Suo-Moto Civil Writ Petition No. 2/2021 in the matter of “Inaction of the governments in appointing President and Members/staff of Districts and State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and Inadequate infrastructure across India” by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the year 2021, nothing major change has been felt in the national capital till date, with this Hon’ble Commission providing non-functional lifts to cater to the disabled, clogged washrooms, no drinking water, and what not.

non-functional lifts to cater to the disabled, clogged washrooms, no drinking water

The question of judicial propriety does come into picture, leaving this order aside, which led to writing of a letter dated 16 May, 2024 (Thursday) to this Hon’ble Commission, which challenged the wrong practices followed, and as expected, nothing came on record. The said letter, having been delivered to the Hon’ble Commission on 20 May, 2024, questioned the incorrect recording of the daily proceedings, non-sitting of the Ld. President and one (1) Ld. Member during hearing although recording their attendance and having their signatures, not seeking compliance of its own order, mentioning “Hon’ble” as prefix before the names of the President and Members and that too twice in the order, and not deciding the matter by causing delay on the pretext of written arguments.

Errors in order dated 18 May,2023 and other issue(s) related thereto

Whose fault can it be attributed to in light of such patent revelations coming to notice? Not only the mandate of sub-section (7) of Section 37 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 that;

(7) Every complaint shall be disposed of as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall be made to decide the complaint within a period of three months from the date of receipt of notice by opposite party where the complaint does not require analysis or testing of commodities and within five months if it requires analysis or testing of commodities:

Provided that no adjournment shall ordinarily be granted by the District Commission unless sufficient cause is shown and the reasons for grant of adjournment have been recorded in writing by the Commission:

Provided further that the District Commission shall make such orders as to the costs occasioned by the adjournment as may be specified by regulations:

Provided also that in the event of a complaint being disposed of after the period so specified, the District Commission shall record in writing, the reasons for the same at the time of disposing of the said complaint

is facing its own testing times, the government seems to be enjoying its slumber in addressing the obvious. It may not be ironical that the other offices in the same Pandit Deep Chand Sharma Sahakar Bhawan at Sector-20, Dwarka, Delhi might be having the required paraphernalia for the officers of the executive arm of the State namely the Assistant Commissioner (Food and Supplies), GNCTD and Zonal Officer (South West Zone), Weights and Measures Department, GNCTD, while the justice delivery system waits for its due to cater to the people of this country. Well, a consumer may not leave the notion that he is not a king, but one needs to come to terms with the unsaid reality that he was never such and will never be, even in his fairy autumn tales, until businesses straighten their path and drastic changes happen in the coming years to his rescue to seek justice in an effective as well as efficient manner.

efficient manner


[The author ‘Mohit Kumar Gupta’ is a practising Advocate-on-Record at the Supreme Court of India and non-practising Chartered Accountant based at NCT of Delhi. He can be reached at contact@mkgprofessional.com for any questions or feedback concerning the write-up. The views expressed herein are personal in nature which do not constitute legal advice as such and is not intended to be understood as solicitation of work.]


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July 2024