Status as on- 13/03/21
Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (“Act”) talks about the “Procedure on admission of complaint”. Further, Section 13(1)(a) of the Act talks about the limitation of filing the reply before the Consumer Fora, which states as follows:
“(1) The District Forum shall on admission of a complaint, if it relates to any goods-
(a) refer a copy of the admitted complaint, within twenty-one days from the date of its admission by to the opposite party mentioned in the complaint directing him to give his version of the case within a period of 30 days or such extended period not exceeding 15 days as may be granted by the District Forum….”
It pertinent to note from the above-mentioned discussion that limitation for filing a reply of the complaint before any Consumer fora (District/State/National) is maximum of 45 days (30+15 days).
Recently, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has reiterated the view of Constitution Bench of Supreme Court taken in the case of J.J. Merchant vs Shrinath Chaturvedi and has again in the case of Daddy’s Builders Pvt. Ltd. vs. Manisha Bhargava [SLP (Civil) No. 1240 of 2021], has held that Consumer fora has no jurisdiction and/or power to accept the written statement beyond the period of 45 days. Further, the Supreme Court was of the view that in some of the cases, the State Commission might have condoned the delay in filing the written statement filed beyond stipulated time of 45 days and all those orders condoning the delay and accepting the written statements shall not be affected and shall be applicable prospectively.
Moreover, in the case of Reliance General Insurance Co. Ltd. vs. M/S Mampee Timbers & Harwares Pvt. Ltd.(2017), the Supreme Court had directed the Consumer fora to accept the written statement beyond the stipulated time of 45 days in an appropriate case.
From the above discussion, it is crystal clear that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has followed the strict approach while dealing with the issue of limitation period of 45 days in filing reply for the complaint as stipulated under the Section 13(1)(a) of the Act. Also, the true picture related to same will be clear after the judgment passed by the Constitutional Bench of Supreme Court in the case of Reliance General Insurance Co.
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