The Himachal Pradesh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on May 9, 2019, in the case of Bharti Airtel Ltd. & Ors. v. Rohit Sharma has observed that complaints for wrongful deduction of the amount by mobile operators can be filed in consumer forums.
The state commission was hearing an appeal filed by Bharti Airtel against the judgment passed by the District Forum wherein the forum had allowed the complaint of Rohit Sharma.
In this case, the complaintant, Rohit Sharma moved the District Forum pleading that Airtel deducted an amount of Rs.200 in an illegal manner from his main account. It was alleged that, thereafter an amount to the tune of Rs.148 was credited by the mobile operator in the account of the complainant, however, the balance Rs.52 was not credited thus the company committed deficiency in services.
The District Forum allowing the said complaint ordered the mobile operator to pay Rs.52 to the complainant along with interest @ 9% per annum. The forum also awarded a punitive compensation of Rs. 2000 to complainant and further ordered the company to pay a litigation cost of Rs. 4000 to the complainant.
In the appeal, Airtel sought the dismissal of consumer complaint on the ground that a special remedy is provided under section 7-B of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and jurisdiction of consumer Fora is prohibited.
However, the Bench rejected the said contention and observed that “It is well settled law that under section 3 of Consumer Protection Act 1986 remedy under Consumer Protection Act 1986 is additional remedy. It is well settled law that Consumer Protection Act 1986 is enacted to protect the interest of consumer. It is also well settled law that there is no provision under Consumer Protection Act 1986 which bars filing of consumer complaint by consumer on the concept of alternative remedy. Opposite parties have received consideration amount from complainant for service rendered and present matter falls within definition of consumer as defined under section 2(d) of Consumer Protection Act 1986.”
The State Commission said that present matter could be disposed of in proper and effective manner under Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and it is not expedient in the ends of justice and on the principle of natural justice to relegate complainant to civil court.
With this view, the Commission dismissed the appeal filed by Airtel and confirmed the order passed by the District Forum.