Applicability of Code of Civil Procedure

Code of Civil Procedure

The necessity for a civil procedure arises as a result of the development of quasi-judicial bodies at various levels, and the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hence referred to as “CPC”) comes into play. The Civil Process Code (CPC) is a statute that codifies the procedure for civil courts in India. CPA, on the other hand, outlines its method and specifies where CPC should be implemented. As a result, the CPC is ambiguous and inapplicable to procedures under the CPA if it is not expressly addressed. As a result, this essay will explore the applicability of CPC in light of numerous court decisions.

The exclusivity of one’s own expression is the exclusion of all others.

The maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius is used to make CPC inapplicable in CPA. A concept like this is utilised to figure out what the legislature’s objective is. According to this rule, mentioning something explicitly means excluding it from other locations. The CPC is mentioned twice in Section 13 of the CPA. First, the CPC has given the district consumer forum the same authority as a civil court in some instances. According to the provision, the district forum can summon the defendant or witness, discover and produce any evidence, request any report of analysis or test, issue any commission for the examination, and do everything else that a civil court can do under the CPC.

The class-action lawsuits were later made available under the CPA after an amendment in 1993. The requirements of Order I Rule 8 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, were added to Section 13(6) of the CPA. In the case the National Forum held that the Consumer Protection Act is intended to facilitate the resolution of a consumer dispute in which a large number of consumers are involved, without requiring each of them to file an individual complaint; however, such a complaint must be filed on behalf of or for the benefit of all persons with such a community of interest. This process is also imported from CPC. As a result, the CPC is axiomatically inapplicable to the remainder of the provisions not CPA because of these sole references to it of section 13.

However, this isn’t the only method to read such laws. According to Justice., courts cannot act on the assumption that any technique is to be interpreted as acceptable unless it is demonstrated to be banned by the law. Though some restrictions are not implied, the Supreme Court is adamant that the CPC does not apply to CPA unless it is specifically addressed.

CPC’s inapplicability

The court views the CPA as self-sufficient since it forms quasi-judicial agencies with their own processes. The idea of expressio unius est exclusio alterius is often used in CPC to prohibit processes from being imposed.

  1. A complaint was made in the Calcutta District Consumer Disputes Forum against a domestic mutual fund aiming to collect money by deceiving the public in Morgan Stanley Mutual Fund v. Kartick Das. As a result, the district court issued an interim order prohibiting SEBI and bankers from issuing approvals for domestic mutual funds. The court overturned the order after a special leave petition was filed. The reason for this is that the reliefs listed under Section 14 of the CPA are solely final and do not include any interim relief, despite the fact that interim relief is a fundamental aspect of the CPC.
  2. Reviewing or recalling an order, like the authority to give an interim order, is a civil court power that is not available under the CPA. In Jyotsana Arvind Kumar Shah and Ors. v. Bombay Hospital Trust, however, a state commission issued an ex parte decision against a hospital, which the state commission later overturned. This was challenged, and the Supreme Court ruled that redressal agencies do not have the authority to recall or reconsider their ex parte orders since the CPA does not provide the state commission the authority. The court upheld the position, ruling that the Tribunals are statute-created entities with authority derived from the statute’s stated provisions. So, under Section 22A of the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002, only the National Commission has the authority to review its ex parte orders.
  3. In New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. R. Srinivasan, the Supreme Court questioned the applicability of the prohibition rule under Order 9 Rule 9(1) CPC to CPA. In which the complainant’s car was damaged and a complaint was filed with the state commission against the New India Assurance Co. Ltd. The complaint was dismissed due to default, as was the application to restore it. As a result, the complainant filed a new complaint in a district consumer forum, and it was argued that such a complaint on the same cause of action wouldn’t be valid because the state commission had previously denied the application for restoration. The court determined that there is no provision that is similar to Order 9 Rule 9(1) CPC. As a result, the restriction cannot be applied to actions before a district forum or a state commission. However, the court stated that if a complainant harasses a party by making several complaints, the district forum, state or national commission will have the authority to dismiss the new complaint by invoking the principles of Order 9 Rule 9 CPC on the basis of abuse of the CPA process.
  4. Aside from these precedents, the court addressed the question of whether the consumer forum has the authority to extend the submission of written statements as required by the CPC beyond the 45-day term set forth in Section 13(2)(a) of the CPA. In New India Assurance Company Ltd. v Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage, the Supreme Court concluded that the time granted under the CPA is required and not advisory, however the 120-day period provided under Order 8 Rule 1 CPC read with Order 8 Rule 10 CPC is neither mandatory nor advisory. As a result, civil courts have the authority to extend the time limit, but consumer forums do not.

Application of the CPC in the context of justice, equality, and good conscience

Aside from the majority of decisions, the Supreme Court has enabled consumer forums to incorporate specific CPC rules in the interest of natural justice principles. The state commission in the case of Sovintorg (India) Ltd. v. State Bank of India, New Delhi, awarded interest on a compensation sum in a complaint against the State Bank of India, and the national commission supported the decision. It was argued that such an interest was not relevant since it was not listed in the CPA and was only empowered to do so by Section 34 of the CPC. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling, reasoning that section 34 of the Criminal Procedure Code is founded on justice, equality, and good conscience. As a result, a clause like this might be applied to CPA.

In the matter of Madan Lal Arora v. Dharampal Ji, M.D.H. and Ors., the National Commission approved an amendment to add a new party to the complaint. Because there was no such provision in the CPA, such an application for revision was filed under Section 151 read with Order 1 Rule 10 of the CPC. The rationale stated was that the essence of the problem for the court is to unearth the truth, and the court has a primary responsibility to administer justice. As a result, in this case, the requirements of the CPC are applied to consumer procedures.

Conclusion

To begin with, the question of CPC applicability arose primarily because the CPA is a quasi-judicial institution. Every quasi-judicial institution, such as consumer forums, the national green tribunal, or the income tax appeal tribunal, adjudicates claims according to its own set of pre-determined norms based on natural justice principles. One of the characteristics of quasi-judicial agencies is their ability to resolve conflicts quickly. This is why the period for filing a written statement under CPA is required, and CPC does not grant extensions of time for filing written statements. As a result, the courts have refrained from importing CPC provisions that may supersede the method set forth in the original forming act.

The Supreme Court’s rulings imply that the inapplicability of the CPC will not result non the abuse of CPA’s loopholes. For example, the court did not fail to empower consumer forums to dismiss a new complaint filed to harass the other party and misuse the legal process under the provisions of the CPC. Furthermore, if the provisions of the CPC are founded on justice, equality, and good conscience, they can be applied to procedures before consumer forums.

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