Supreme Court: Online Consumers can sue Online Sellers from Anywhere
Supreme court brought a big relief for consumers opting for online purchase of products through websites and e-commerce websites. They can file a consumer complaint before any consumer court for deficiency in services.
In over the counter purchases, a consumer can file the complaint in the consumer court only within the local limits of where the company is situated or the transaction took place.
Considering the rapid growth of e-commerce, a bench of Justice Adarsh K Goel and S Abdul Nazeer on Friday upheld the ruling of National Consumer Dispute Redressal (NCDRC) in a complaint against the
A Chandigarh- based woman, Rajni Arey, booked a ticket (Chandigarh to Delhi via Bagdogra and Kolkata) on yatra.com on 23rd July 2015 by paying Rs. 70,900. The airline, SpiceJet canceled her return flight from Kolkata to Delhi without any reason and provided her with no alternative. This woman approached a consumer court in Chandigarh and obtained a decree against Spicejet. The airline appealed against this order and contended that in the present matter, the consumer court at Chandigarh did not have jurisdiction to pass the order as the principal place of the business of the company is Gurugram. The airline company relied on Section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act which states that a consumer complaint can be instituted by the consumer within the local limits of where the defendant resides or carries on business or where the cause of action arises.
However, the NCDRC did not accept the argument of the airline and held the company guilty of canceling the flight without any reason when all the other 128 flights took off on the same day without any delay.
NCDRC noted that the airline has given no explanation for the sudden cancellation of flight and has not even arranged for an alternative arrangement.
If such an argument is accepted then the online consumers will put at peril. The objective of the act is to provide hassle free redressal mechanism. The commission observed, “In the present times, the availability of goods and services, through websites at a particular place, has virtually become the same thing, as a seller having shops, in that place, in the physical sense… As a result, territorial jurisdiction over a consumer complaint would lie with the consumer for a situated at any place, where any of the aforementioned causes of action arises.”