The Supreme Court ruled that the condition of payment of 50% of the amount awarded in appeal preferred against NCDRC’s order before the top court will not be applicable to complaints filed prior to commencement of Act of 2019.
The complainant was awarded a contract for construction of rain water drainage, heavy sewerage and municipal road system by the Government of Basra, Iraq. The complainant obtained two specific contracts by paying a sum of ₹10,38,03,912/- as premium to the appellant. The grievance of the complainant was that the payment for invoices issued for the work done under the contract was suspended. Later, the contract also was withdrawn by the Government of Basra owing to some internal conflict. The appellant herein rejected the insurance claim of the complainant and thus relief was sought before the National Commission by filing a complaint under Section 21 (a) (i) of the 1986 Act. The said complaint was allowed.
The Attorney General, appearing for the appellant, contended that the appeal has been preferred under Section 23 of the 1986 Act and not under the 2019 Act. It was stated that the condition of deposit of 50% of the amount is more onerous than what was provided under the 1986 Act.
He said that keeping in view the principle that the law which is applicable at the time of initiation of the lis would be applicable, the provisions of 1986 Act would govern the present appeal and not the provisions of 2019 Act.
Advocate Nidhesh Gupta, appearing for the respondent, argued that the amendment is procedural in nature and thus always retrospective. The consumer protection legislation is a beneficial legislation, therefore, the interpretation which benefits the consumer should be preferred.
The division bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V. Ramasubramanian noted that in Neena Aneja, the Court held that right to forum is not an accrued right. Section 6(e) of the General Clauses Act protects the pending legal proceeding for enforcement of the accrued right from the effect of repeal; it does not mean the legal proceeding at a particular forum was saved from the effect of repeal.
The court stated that there is another line of judgments taking a view that right of appeal is a creation of statute and the legislature is competent to determine the conditions on which an appeal would lie. These are not the cases of amending or repeal of a statute, therefore, such judgments are not applicable to the questions arising in the present application.
The court held that the onerous condition of payment of 50% of the amount awarded will not be applicable to the complaints filed prior to the commencement of the 2019 Act.
Case title: Ecgc limited v/s Mokul Shriram EPC JV
Citation: I.A. NO. 99210 OF 2021 IN CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1842 OF 2021