There is a rising tendency on the part of litigants who lose their cases to blame their own advocates, hoping to earn sympathy of the appellate court. Such sympathy used to be granted, as a litigant should not suffer for the fault of an advocate. The ploy was successful till judges realized how it was being misused. The national commission, in its decision on November 11 last year came down heavily on a litigant and penalized him for making wild allegations against his advocate.
Noor Isam Mondal purchased a gold testing machine from Anklist Exim Inc. A payment of Rs 13,72,750 was made by availing a loan under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme 2010-2011. Mondal found that the machine did not give the right gold clarity reading. Though he asked the manufacturer to remove the defects, the company did not respond. Ultimately, he sent a legal notice, through his advocate, demanding that the defect be removed, but no heed was paid even then. So, Mondal filed a complaint before the Hooghly district forum, but it was rejected due to lack of territorial jurisdiction. The complaint was then filed before the Howrah district forum.
The manufacturer contested, pointing out inconsistencies in the notice and complaint. While the notice stated Mondal had not received the machine, the complaint said the machine had been received but was not working properly. The firm argued that the complaint was false and vexatious and ought to be dismissed.
The forum directed the company to replace the defective machine with a new one having the same model number and specifications, along with a six-month guarantee, or alternatively refund the entire amount of Rs 13,72,750. The company was also ordered to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000, of which half should be paid to Mondal and the balance to the Consumer Welfare Fund. Additionally, costs of Rs 5,000 were also granted. In appeal, the West Bengal state commission modified the order by holding that the entire compensation of Rs 50,000/ should be paid to Mondal.
Mondal filed a revision before the national commission, as he was not satisfied with the compensation and wanted a refund of Rs 13,72,750. Mondal blamed his earlier lawyer for having made false statements before the state commission, resulting in conflicting statements. The commission observed that Mondal had admitted in the complaint the machine had been received by him on March 22, 2011. Yet in the subsequent notice of May 18, 2011, he said the machine had not been delivered. These averments were contradictory. If the lawyer was at fault, appropriate action ought to have been taken against him. But without doing so, it would not be right to blame the lawyer. The commission concluded that such an allegation is an after-thought, and not acceptable.
The national commission observed that Mondal was trying to mislead the consumer fora. It held that any litigant who makes false assertions is not entitled to any equitable relief, and such a complaint must be rejected at the threshold.
By its November, 2014, order, delivered by Justice V B Gupta along with member Suresh Chandra, the commission dismissed the complaint, directing Mondal to pay punitive damages of Rs 50,000 to legal aid.