The Supreme Court ruled that the revisional jurisdiction of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) under Consumer Protection Act is extremely limited, to be exercised Carefully.
The appellant complainant had filed the consumer case before the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Purba Medinipur (“the Consumer Forum”) alleging inter-alia that the appellant i.e., Sunil Kr. Maity had a savings account number with the respondent-bank since January, 2000. In 2010, the said account number was changed. In 2012, the appellant went to deposit a sum of Rs. 500/- in the said account, when a staff of respondent-bank informed him that the account number had again been changed and wrote account number on his passbook. The said amount was deposited in the said account number. Thereafter, in 2013, the appellant deposited a cheque drawn on SBI of the said Branch issued by one Prabir Pradhan having an SBI account number. When the appellant went to update his passbook, he noticed that his passbook showed the balance of Rs. 59/- only, though he had not made any transaction between 16.01.2013 to 11.12.2013. On the enquiry having been made, the respondent-bank informed the appellant that there was another customer by the name Sunil Maity (the responden) and the account number was wrongly given to the appellant whose name was Sunil Kr Maity.
The division bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Bela M. Trivedi noted that pending the revision application, the National Commission had called for a report on the whole matter from the SBI. A report was filed by the Regional Manager of the SBI. Relying upon the said report, the National Commission allowed the revision application filed by the bank, by observing inter-alia that though revisional jurisdiction of the Commission under section 21(b) of the Act, 1986 has a defined purview and ambit, it does allow interference if grave misappreciation of evidence or superficial appraisal of a case is discernible on the part of the two fora below.
The court said that the National Commission has grossly erred in observing in the impugned order that the appellant-complainant would be at liberty to seek remedy in the competent Civil Court and that if he chooses to bring an action in a Civil Court, he is free to file an application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963, recording the statement of Counsel for the SBI that it will not press the issue of limitation if action is brought by the complainant in a Civil Court.
The court added that such an observation/order passed by the National Commission is in utter ignorance of the provisions of the Limitation Act, in as much as Section 5 of the Limitation Act does not apply to the institution of civil suit in the Civil Court.
The court set aside the impugned order passed by the National Commission solely relying upon the suo-moto report called for from the respondent-bank during the pendency of the revision application, being highly erroneous and restored the order passed by the State Commission.
Case title: Sunil Kumar Maity v/s State Bank of India and Anr.
Citation: CIVIL APPEAL 432 OF 2022