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Unfair compensation: Consumers

Posted December 8th, 2017, 11:49 AM IST

Unfair compensation: Consumers

Hyderabad: Consumer courts are not meant for enriching customers, says the Delhi State Commission. In a recent case, the state commission had denied the appellant’s request to enhance the compensation received. In most cases, the consumer ends up getting a much lower amount than what has been asked for. Lawyers claim that this happens because most consumers ask for large compensation when they are in an emotionally charged mood. Similarly many also file claims without adequate proof, which leads to the same result.

Advocate A. Santhosh Kumar says, “How can the redressal forum assess the amount of mental agony, negligence and suffering that many complainants claim to face? Every person who files a complaint expects to get 10 times more than what he paid. But we cannot let the other side suffer because of this. A sense of getting cheated, which consumers feel, is intangible and therefore there can be no benchmark of compensation granted. Each case is judged according to its due value.”

Most complainants deal with a faulty product or service that has wasted their time, money and energy, which makes them angry. Complainants say that the mode of calculating the compensation in case of life- altering accidents often leaves the complainant dissatisfied. Shanti Natyasri, a housewife, says, “My husband lost his leg due to medical negligence and we approached the consumer forum for justice. He was earning upto Rs 15,000 then and since he was 45 at the time of the accident, his annual income for five years was calculated to be `9 lakhs but since he was working in a private firm and it was not a permanent means of income, only 75 per cent of the amount was given to him.”

The appellant had asked the court for Rs 15 lakhs and received a compensation of only Rs 6.7 lakhs. “That was so vastly different from our demand. As the sole breadwinner of our family, a better compensation should have been directed. He was also liable for a pay hike before retirement.” The Consumer forum of India is considered to be more ‘people-friendly; than those of foreign countries, as citizens can easily file cases at the district level or higher, depending on the complaint. However swift judgment and strict action is missing. “In foreign countires, people fight a consumer redressal case to win back actual damage costs, punitive damages and even attorney fees. They make sure that the company is penalized. Repeat offenders can only be stopped in this manner,” says Advocate Sangeeta Sivan.