REVISION PETITION NO.4656 OF 2012
(Against the order dated 19.09.2011 in First Appeal No.1568 of 2007 of the State Commission, Haryana )
1st Floor, Mahalaxmi Engineering Estate
L.J. Road No.1,
Mahim Mumbai- 400016,
Through Jyoti Ravi Sachdeva,
Company Secretary and Associate Director Legal
Authorized Signatory ……….Petitioner
Ms. Urmil Munjal
C/o Gurgaon Gramin Bank
Head Office, Sector 4,
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE J.M . MALIK,
HON’BLE MR. VINAY KUMAR, MEMBER
For the Petitioner : Ms. Sangeeta Sondhi, Advocate
PRONOUNCED ON: 11 APRIL 2013
PER MR.VINAY KUMAR, MEMBER
M/s Rediff.com India Limited has filed this revision petition against concurrent orders of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Gurgaon and Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The revision has been filed with a delay of 327 days. In explanation of the same the application seeking its condonation says:
“5. That it is pertinent to mention that the petitioner never received copy of the order and the same was never served upon the petitioner. It was only on 15.10.2012 that the petitioner received show cause notice from the District Court, Gurgaon for non-compliance of the order of the Hon’ble State Commission. Upon receipt of the same, the petitioner followed up with its counsel and got the certified copy of the order only on 18.10.2012.
6. It is respectfully submitted that the limitation to file the present petition would commence from 15.10.2012 when the petitioner came know that impugned order, however, as an abundant caution, the petitioner has filed the present application for condonation of delay in filing the present revision petition from the date of the order.
7. That the order of the Hon’ble State Commission is dated 19.09.2011, the certified copy of the same received by the petitioner on 18.10.2012. The petitioner was never delivered the copy of the order. Even the respondent never took any steps to serve the petitioner. It is only when the respondent filed the execution petition and the petitioner received the certified copy of the order only then, he came to know about the impugned order.”
2. Thus, according to the revision petitioner, he came to know of the existence of the impugned order on 15.10.2012 and obtained a certified copy thereof on 18.10.2012. The copy of the impugned order filed before this Commission does show that the certified true copy was issued on 18.10.2012. Presumably, it will have been applied for sometime between the 15th and 18th of October, 2012. However, neither the condonation application nor the certified copy show the date on which it was applied for. Significantly, the endorsement on the same copy of the impugned order also indicates that free of cost copy of the impugned order dated 19.9.2011 was already supplied on 17.10.2011. The copy supplied on 18.10.2012 was a duplicate copy. It is therefore clear that the claim of the petitioner that he came to know about the existence of the impugned order one year later, on 15.10.2012 has no factual basis.
3. The certified copy of the impugned order also shows that the order was pronounced on 19.9.2011. This date is carried at the beginning as well as at the end of the order. In the face of this, the claim in para 3 of the condonation application that the appeal was last heard on 19.9.2011 and was kept pending for orders, becomes a blatant lie. Moreover, the revision petitioner was not ex-parte before the State Commission and should therefore have been fully aware of the proceedings before the State Commission including when the case was reserved for orders and when was the order pronounced. We therefore have no hesitation in rejecting the application of this inordinate delay 327 days as totally unacceptable. The revision petition is therefore liable to be dismissed on the ground of delay alone.
4. Coming to the merits of the matter, we have carefully perused the records and heard Ms. Sangeeta Sondhi Advocate on behalf of the revision petitioner. The main urged on behalf of the revision petitioner is that the respondent/Complainant is not a consumer of the revision petitioner within the meaning of Section 21 (d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. It is alleged that dissatisfaction of the Complainant, if any, was with the goods delivered by their vendor, who has not been joined as a necessary party before the consumer fora. The revision petitioner, it is claimed, was mere facilitator of the transaction between the seller and buyer and cannot be held liable for any deficiency of service.
5. Nevertheless, the above contention, the revision petition does admit “that the petitioner is only an intermediary who facilitates the sellers and buyers through its online portal and once the offer is made by the buyer and it is accepted on payment of consideration by the seller the role of the intermediary is over.”
6. In the Written Response filed before the District Forum (para 3), it is claimed that as the information and service provided to the buyer on this website by the respondent company are gratuitous or without consideration therefore, no contract for supply of any good or service ever came into existence between the complainant and the respondent in the present case. That the complainant does not have any legal rights against the respondent and there can be no question of any deficiency of service or defect in goods supplied.
7. In the background of the above contention, it needs to be noted that the District Forum did not hold the RP/OP liable for any defects in the goods supplied, but for failure to inform the Complainant about the manner in which defective goods were to be returned to their seller. The District Forum has observed:-
“4. The main allegation of the complainant against the opposite party is that the opposite party failed to inform the complainant as to how the items received by the complainant are to be returned to the seller. Since the opposite party was facilitator between the seller and buyers as mentioned in the terms and conditions for Rediff Shopping Anneure-OP1 in the column “online Shopping Platform” Annexure-OP1-A, so it was the duty of the opposite party to inform the complainant as to how the goods are to be returned to the seller. A letter was issued through the opposite party to the complainant Annexure-C1 according to which the seller had undertaken to replace the produce at no cost to the buyer if the buyer inform the seller within 30 days of the delivery of the order, which shows that had the opposite party informed the complainant about the procedure and from the goods purchased by the complainant through the opposite party are to be returned, the complainant would have taken the benefit of the facility given by the seller under Annexure-C1. Although the opposite party did not charge any price from the complainant from mediating between the seller and the complainant yet it is implied that the opposite party which was giving service to the seller to invite buyers to purchase the goods is a service as contemplated under the provisions of Consumer Protection Act and the complainant has locus standi to file the complainant against the opposite party.”
8. The State Commission fully endorses the view of the District Forum when it holds that:-
“Admittedly, the opposite party was facilitator between the seller and buyers (complainant) as mentioned in the terms and conditions for Rediff Shopping Annexure OP-1 in the column “Online Shopping Platform” Annexure OP1-A. It was the duty of the opposite party to inform the complainant as to how the goods could be returned to the seller. As per letter Annexure C-1, which was written by the seller to the complainant through the opposite party, the seller had undertaken to replace the product at no cost in case the buyer informed the seller within 30 days of the delivery of product.”
9. We find that the view taken by the fora below is completely in line with the admitted position of the RP/OP. In para 2 of its written response before the District Forum, it is clearly stated that the respondent company is engaged in business of providing services through its internet portal (www.rediff.com) to interested buyers and sellers by acting as a means of communication between them and bringing into existence contracts of sale and purchase of movable goods. If this is the declared business interest of the RP/OP it cannot be permitted to claim that it is providing purely gratuitous service to its customers, without any consideration. It is certainly not the case of RP/OP that it is a charitable organisation involved in e-commerce, with no business returns for itself. We therefore, reject the contention of the revision petitioner that the respondent/Complainant is not a consumer of the revision petitioner within the meaning of Section 2(1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
10. We find no merit in this revision petition. It is accordingly dismissed on the grounds of limitation as well as on merit. No order as to costs.