Devotee Availing Services from Religious Organization not “Services” u/Consumer Protection Act

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November 21, 2018

In a recent case, the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has held that even if some amount is charged by the religious organization from the devotees for granting the requisite permission that would not amount to rendering services as is understood in the context of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Case name: Trustee, Jacobite Syrian Cathredel & anr. v. Jippu Varkey

In the case, the Complainant alleged that that the petitioners took money from Complainant to construct a family tomb in the cemetery of the said Cathredel and later on the said tomb was destroyed by the petitioners. Aggrieved by the same, the complainant approached the District Consumer Forum seeking reconstruction of the tomb and compensation.

The Petitioners objected the complaint on the ground that the complainant was not a consumer and therefore the consumer complaint before the Consumer Forum was not maintainable.

In appeal, the State Commission directed the petitioners to reconstruct the tomb in the cemetery of the Catehredel at their own expenses and also pay a sum of Rs.25,000/- as compensation to the complainant. Being aggrieved, by State Commission’s order the Petitioners approached the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC).

NCDRC’s Order

The NCDRC noted that the issue that fell for consideration was whether the complainant can be said to have hired or availed the services of the Cathredel or its Trustees, by allegedly paying Rs.1001/- to them, for obtaining permission for construction of a family tomb in the cemetery of the Cathredel ?

  • The Commission was of the view that the grant of permission for construction of a family tomb in the cemetery of Cathredel does not amount to rendering services within the meaning of Section 2(1)(o) of the Consumer Protection Act. At best, it is a permission granted by a religious organization to one of its devotees.
  • Thus, the NCDRC concluded that even if some amount is charged by the religious organization from the devotees for granting the requisite permission that would not amount to rendering services as is understood in the context of the Consumer Protection Act.
  • That a devotee availing such a facility from the religious organization to which he belongs cannot be said to be a consumer in terms of the Consumer Protection Act.

In view of the aforesaid, the NCDRC held in the case that a consumer complaint for redressal of the grievance of the complainant was clearly not maintainable and accordingly State Commission’s order in the case was set aside.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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