- New India Assurance Company Limited v Abhilash Jewellery[III (2009) CPJ 2 (SC)]
Consumer Law- Whether the definition of ‘employee’ includes apprentice or not-The complainant/respondent, who had taken a jeweller’s block policy, lodged a claim with the opposite party insurer for loss of gold ornaments. The insurer repudiated the claim on the ground that the loss occurred when the gold was in the custody of an apprentice, who was not an employee. The National Commission allowed the complaint holding that an apprentice was an ’employee’. The Supreme Court, however, held that the word ’employee’ in the contract of insurance mentioned had to be given the meaning in common parlance. The definition in the local Act, including an ‘apprentice’ in the category of ’employee’, was only a ‘legal fiction’, which is a concept in law and could not be applied to an insurance contract. The Court, therefore, allowed the appeal.
- Malka Tarannum v Dr. C. P. Gupta[III (2009) CPJ 49 (NC)]
Consumer Law- Decision of doctor to apply plaster on fracture for second time not medical negligence-The District Forum allowed the complaint of the complainant that there was negligence in applying (the first) plaster cast on the complainant’s daughter’s fractured hand, which led to the need to apply the plaster for the second time. State Commission dismissed the complaint and also held that the complainant was not a consumer since he was not charged any fee for the treatment. National Commission held that application of the plaster for the second time did not imply medical negligence on the first occasion since application of POP slab was a normal procedure adopted in the first instance whenever there was swelling at the site of the injury. The Commission also rejected the complainant’s husband’s contention that he was a consumer since receiving free medical treatment was part of the terms and conditions of his service. It held that the complainant took no such plea before the forum below and no evidence was produced.
- Sehgal School of Competition v Dalbir Singh [III (2009) CPJ 33 (NC)]
Consumer Law- Payment of full course in advance to the coaching school, whether just or unjust– The complainant sought refund from the opposite party’s coaching school after only one year of the two-year course on the ground that the coaching was not up to the mark. The District Forum directed refund of the fees and the opposite party’s appeal was dismissed. In revision, the petitioner contended that payment of lump sum fees for two years was a condition that and no part of the fees could be refunded. The Commission held that this condition was one sided and biased in favour of the opposite party, against natural justice and not a fair trade practice.
- Narinder Kumar Suneja v R.K. Goel[III (2009) CPJ 35 (NC)]
Consumer Law- Whether a lawyer was entitled to retain the fee which he took from the respondent– In revision, the petitioner who was a lawyer claimed that he was entitled to retain the fee which he took from the respondent since the respondent had executed the power of attorney/vakalatnama and handed over some papers to the petitioner in connection with a proposed case to be filed. He claimed having wasted valuable time when the respondent met and sought expert advice. The National Commission referred to the order of the State Commission which, in turn, referred to the District Forum’s order holding that the opposite party (petitioner) was not entitled to retain the fee when he did not perform the duty for which the fee was meant and that a complaint made by the complainant to the Bar Council related only to misconduct on the part of its member.
- Medical Superintendent, St. Gregorious Mission Hospital v Jessy & Another[III (2009) CPJ 61 (NC)]
Consumer Law- Degree of care for patients in the alcoholic psychosis treatment for de-addiction- The District Forum awarded Rs. 2.75 lakh along with interest to the complainants, viz., the wife and daughter of the deceased since the hospital had been negligent in not providing due care on account whereof the deceased who was undergoing alcoholic psychosis treatment for de-addiction of drugs, had committed suicide by hanging in the hospital. In revision, the hospital contended that it was impossible to provide 24-hour service to look after the affairs and needs of each patient. The National Commission held that the patient was allowed to move away on his own from his ward into an empty ward without being noticed by the nurses and ward boys. As per the hospital’s own evaluation, the hospital staff should have taken extra care to deal with such a patient but the required degree of care was not exhibited.