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SC: Consumer Commission Can Waive Delay of Up to 15 Days in Filing Written Statement

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Supreme Court Law Insider

Sarthak Umang

Published on: 09 November 2022 at 19:34 IST

The Supreme Court noted that a Consumer Commission has no jurisdiction to condone the postponement of submission of opposite party’s written version beyond the prescribed length of 15 days as stipulated period given in the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

The opposing party filed a written statement after the 45-day deadline before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDC) addressed the matter.The Commission refused to condone the time-lapse while observing:

“Time for filing the Written Version as provided under Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 now replaced by Section 38 (2) (a) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 which is in force since 20/24.07.2020 has expired. This Commission does not have the power to condone the delay beyond 30 + 15 days as provided in the statute. Right of Opposite Party No.2 to file the Written Version stands closed.”

The other party filed a special leave petition in the Apex Court under Article 136 of the Constitution to challenge this order. The Divisional Bench comprising Justices MM Sundresh and MR Shah heard the matter and stated that –

“It is not in dispute that the written statement was filed beyond the period of 45 days. The period of limitation to file is 30 days which can be condoned up to 15 days only. As observed and held by this Court in the case of New India Assurance Co. Ltd. vs. Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage (P) Ltd. (2020) 5 SCC 757, the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to condone the delay beyond the prescribed period mentioned in the Statute.”,

Further, the Court cited the case of Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage (P) Ltd., where the constitutional bench held that the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 did not empower the consumer forum to extend the time duration after the completion of 45 days.

The stipulated period prescribed under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act is mandatory and no longer listed. It is additionally noted that the timeline will start from the time that a grievance is received and not just notice.