Mere receipt of notice without a copy of complaint cannot be commencing point of 30 days limitation for opposite party to file reply

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mere receipt of notice without a copy of complaint

The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has held that the commencing point of limitation of 30 days under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act would be from the date of receipt of the notice accompanied with the complaint by the opposite party, and not mere receipt of the notice of the complaint.

The Court clarified that the objection of not having received a copy of the complaint along with the notice should be raised on the first date itself and not thereafter. 

The bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra observed thus in the judgment in which it held that the District Forum has no power to extend the time for filing the response to the complaint beyond the period of 15 days in addition to 30 days as is envisaged under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act. Another issue considered by the bench, also comprising of Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M.R. Shah and S. Ravindra Bhat was on the commencing point of limitation of 30 days under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986

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 It observed:

A conjoint reading of Clauses (a) and (b) of subSection (2) of Section 13 would make the position absolutely clear that the commencing point of limitation of 30 days, under the aforesaid provisions, would be from the date of receipt of notice accompanied by a copy of the complaint, and not merely receipt of the notice, as the response has to be given within the stipulated time, to the averments made in the complaint and unless a copy of the complaint is served on the opposite party, he would not be in a position to furnish its reply. Thus, mere service of notice, without service of the copy of the complaint, would not suffice and cannot be the commencing point of 30 days under the aforesaid Section of the Act. We may, however, clarify that the objection of not having received a copy of the complaint along with the notice should be raised on the first date itself and not thereafter, otherwise if permitted to be raised at any point later would defeat the very purpose of the Act, which is to provide simple and speedy redressal of consumer disputes.