By Adv. Jatin Ramaiya
Consumers need not be physically present at the hearing and can post the defense by courier, declared the Goa State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission recently in response to a plea filed by JTB Travels (Pvt) Ltd., a Mumbai based company.
The Commission struck down the order passed by the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Porvorim, which had earlier rejected the statement of defense of JTB Travels and refused to take it on record as it was sent by courier.
A consumer complaint was filed against the JTB Travels in the Consumer Forum, Porvorim alleging deficiency in service. Upon perusal of the complaint and hearing the complainants the Forum had issued notice to JTB Travels and others on their Mumbai and Goa address. However on February 25 2019, one day prior to the date of hearing, the Forum office received through courier the written version of JTB’s defense along with three sets of copies und the same was sought to be placed in the file of the complaint for record.
But the Forum on the date of the hearing refused to take the defense on record as it was sent without any document demonstrating the authority of the person signing the written version. “The written version was filed by courier service and no person appeared for travel company,” ruled the Forum.
The ruling was subsequently quashed and set aside by State Commission through its bench comprising Justice UV Bakre, president and Vidya Gurav , senior member, who observed, “There may not be a specific provision in the Act permitting the opposite party to send written version by post but there is also no provision not to take on record and to discard the written version sent by post.”
The Commission further held that, there was clear mention in the written version that the signatory was authorized signatory. Observing that as per Goa Rules it is not mandatory for the Forum to proceed ex-parte against the opposite party if on the date fixed for hearing of the case the opposite party remains absent, the Commission said, “There was no reason for hurriedly marking the matter ex-parte against the opposing party (number 1) and the Forum could have at least once adjourned the matter”. The Commission directed the Forum to take the written statement of defense on record and proceed with the complaint proceedings.