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Judiciary

NCDRC Should Not Return Complaint Unadjudicated For Misjoinder Of Parties : Supreme Court

By Vaibhav Gattani      25 February, 2022 10:52 PM      0 Comments
NCDRC Should Not Return Complaint Supreme Court

The Supreme Court recently in the case Brahmaputra Biochem Private Ltd v New India Assurance Company & Anr set aside an order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission which returned a complaint unadjudicated due to misjoinder of parties.

Terming the approach of the NCDRC "erroneous", the Supreme Court observed that the if there was misjoinder of parties, the unnecessary parties should be deleted, instead of returning the complaint. 

A bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V Ramasubramanian observed that the complaint cannot be returned unadjudicated with liberty to file fresh complaint as the issue of limitation will also arise.

"We find that the approach of the NCDRC is erroneous as if the NCDRC was of the opinion that the Surveyor was an unnecessary party or the pleadings are contradictory, it should have struck down the said party. The striking of surveyor from the array of parties would not make the complaint disjoined, as it was duty of the NCDRC to strike of an unnecessary party.

The complaint cannot be returned unadjudicated with liberty to file fresh complaint. The complaint can be filed within the period of limitation. Once the period of limitation has expired, the appellant cannot file the second complaint".

The Bench has therefore set aside the order passed by the NCDRC dated 27.09.2021 and remitted the matter for fresh decision in accordance with law.

The issue was relating to a complaint against an insurance company. The NCDRC took objection to the complainant adding the insurance surveyor also as a party in the case.

The NCDRC in its order stated that while a complaint ought not be defeated by reason of misjoinder of parties alone, in the present case the contents and articulation of the complaint is such that the insurance co. and its surveyor and loss assessor have been inextricably conjoined together.

According to NCDRC, in the wake of such confounding overlappings, a mechanical deletion of the opposite party no. 2 surveyor and loss assessor from the array of the parties would make the complaint disjointed and askew, as may occasion to cause embarrassment to its adjudication on merit.

The Supreme Court however observed that the appellant has impleaded Surveyor and the loss assessor for the reason that there are allegations against the Surveyor in the complaint. Therefore, as a part of principles of natural justice, if there are allegations against the Surveyor and the loss assessor, an opportunity should have been given to such person to rebut the allegations.

Further according to the Apex Court, the surveyor was not impleaded to claim compensation but as a proper party in view of the allegations leveled against it. Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the Surveyor and the loss assessor was in fact the necessary party, however it is upon the Surveyor to appear or not to appear before the NCDRC.

 



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