Protection provided under Consumer Protection Act to consumers is in addition to remedies available under any other Statute

The frame work for the CP Act was provided by a Resolution dated 09.04.1985 of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, which is commonly known as consumer Protection Resolution No. 39/248. India is a signatory to the said Resolution. The Act was enacted in view of the aforementioned Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The preamble to the Act suggests that it is to provide better protection for the consumers and their interests. By this Act, the Legislature has constituted quasi-judicial Tribunals/Commissions as an alternative system of adjudicating consumer disputes.

Section 3 of the CP Act gives an additional remedy for deficiency of service and that remedy is not in derogation of any other remedy under any other law.

In Proprietor, Jabalpur Tractors v. Sedmal Jainrain and Anr., (1995) 4 Suppl. SCC 107, it is held:

The consumer Protection Act is not in derogation of any law.

 In Fair Air Engineers Pvt. Ltd. and Anr. v. N.K. Modi, (1996) 6 SCC 385, it is held:

 Accordingly, it must be held that the provisions of the Act are to be construed widely to give effect to the object and purpose of the Act. It is seen that Section 3 envisages that the provisions of the Act are in addition to and are not in derogation of any other law in force. It is true, as rightly contended by Shri Suri, that the words “in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force” would be given proper meaning and effect and if the complaint is not stayed and the parties are not relegated to the arbitration, the Act purports to operate in derogation of the provisions of the Arbitration Act. Prima facie, the contention appears to be plausible but on construction and conspectus of the provisions of the Act we think that the contention is not well founded. Parliament is aware of the provisions of the Arbitration Act and the Contract Act, 1872 and the consequential remedy available under Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, i.e., to avail of right of civil action in a competent court of civil jurisdiction. Nonetheless, the Act provides the additional remedy.

 In State of Karnataka v. Vishwa Bharathi House Building Co-operative Society and Ors., (2003) 2 SCC 412, a three Judge Bench of this Court observed:

16…in asmuch as the provisions of the said Act are in addition to the provisions of any other law for the time being in force and not in derogation thereof as is evident from Section 3 thereof.

In the case of Secy., Thirumurugan Coop. Agricultural Credit Society v. Ma. Lalitha, (2004) 1 SCC 305, this Court took the view:

12. As per Section 3 of the Act, as already stated above, the provisions of the Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of any other provisions of any other law for the time being in force. Having due regard to the scheme of the Act and purpose sought to be achieved to protect the interest of the consumers better, the provisions are to be interpreted broadly, positively and purposefully in the context of the present case to give meaning to additional/extended jurisdiction, particularly when Section 3 seeks to provide remedy under the Act in addition to other remedies provided under other Acts unless there is a clear bar.

Supreme Court, in the case of Kishore Lal v. Chairman, Employees’ State Insurance Corpn., (2007) 4 SCC 579, took the view:

7. The definition of “consumer” in the CP Act is apparently wide enough and encompasses within its fold not only the goods but also the services, bought or hired, for consideration. Such consideration may be paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised under any system of deferredpayment and includes any beneficiary of such person other than the person who hires the service for consideration. The Act being a beneficial legislation, aims to protect the interests of a consumer as understood in the business parlance. The important characteristics of goods and services under the Act are that they are supplied at a price to cover the costs and generate profit or income for the seller of goods or provider of services. The comprehensive definition aims at covering every man who pays money as the price or cost of goods and services. However, by virtue of the definition, the person who obtains goods for resale or for any commercial purpose is excluded, but the services hired for consideration even for commercial purposes are not excluded. The term “service” unambiguously indicates in the definition that the definition is not restrictive and includes within its ambit such services as well which are specified therein. However, a service hired or availed, which does not cost anything or can be said free of charge, or under a contract of personal service, is not included within the meaning of “service” for the purposes of the CP Act.

In Skypak Couriers Ltd. v. Tata Chemicals Ltd. (2000) 5 SCC 294, this Court observed:

2. With the industrial revolution and development in the international trade and commerce, there has been a substantial increase of business and trade, which resulted in a variety of consumer goods appearing in the market to cater to the needs of the consumers. The modern methods of advertisement in media, influence the mind of the consumers and notwithstanding the manufacturing defect or imperfection in the quality, a consumer is tempted to purchase the goods. There has been possibility of deficiency in the services rendered. For the welfare of such consumer and to protect the consumers from the exploitation to provide protection of the interest of the consumers, Parliament enacted the consumer Protection Act, and the Act itself makes provision for the establishment of Commissions for settlement of the consumer disputes and matters connected therewith. The Commissions, under the Act, are quasi-judicial bodies and they are supposed to provide speedy and simple redressal to consumer disputes and for that purpose, they have been empowered to give relief of a specified nature and in an appropriate way, to award compensation…

Supreme Court in the case of Patel Roadways Limited v. Birla Yamaha Ltd., (2000) 4 SCC 91, has considered this question and has laid down that the Disputes Redressal Agency provided for in the Act will have the jurisdiction to entertain complaints in which the claim for loss or damage of goods entrusted to a carrier for transportation is in dispute.

therefore, the protection provided under the CP Act to consumers is in addition to the remedies available under any other Statute. It does not extinguish the remedies under another Statute but provides an additional or alternative remedy.