Customer Entitled to Replacement Not Repair if Vehicle has Manufacturing Defect : J&K and Ladakh HC

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The High court upheld the decision of the Consumer Forum stating that it was a case of replacement of the vehicle by a new vehicle and not a case of repair

The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court at Jammu, has recently decreed that customers have the right to demand a replacement for a vehicle afflicted with manufacturing defects right from its inception.

Justice Sanjeev Kumar and Justice Puneet Gupta, presiding over the case, stated, "Repairs may be called for if the vehicles purchased during the course of its use suffers from a technical defect and not where the vehicle has manufacturing defect.”

The court's ruling came in response to a petition filed by M/s Maruti Udyog Limited, challenging an order passed by the State Consumer Commission.

The case stemmed from a consumer complaint filed by Mr. Ramesh Chander Sharma before the Divisional Consumer Forum in Jammu. Sharma alleged that he had purchased a Maruti 800 CC Car from M/s Pathankot Vehicleades Pvt. Limited, Pathankot, for Rs. 1,94,195.60, only to discover a technical snag in the vehicle from the outset. Despite bringing the issue to the attention of the dealership, the matter was reportedly delayed, and it was later revealed that the vehicle's engine had a manufacturing defect. While the dealership insisted on repairing the engine, Sharma demanded a replacement for the defective vehicle.

Sharma took the matter to the Divisional Consumer Forum in Jammu, seeking replacement of the faulty vehicle with a new one. The dealership, backed by Maruti Suzuki, argued that the defect was minor and could be rectified through repairs.

After examining the evidence, the Divisional Forum concluded that the vehicle indeed had a manufacturing flaw from the beginning, and thus, replacement, not repair, was warranted. Consequently, it directed the dealership to either provide a replacement vehicle or refund the purchase amount, totalling Rs. 1,94,195.60, along with 9% interest per annum. In addition, Sharma was also held entitled to Rs. 1000/- as cost of litigation.

Maruti Suzuki contested this decision before the State Consumer Commission. Yet, the appeal faced dismissal on two grounds: it was filed after the limitation period had expired, and it lacked the mandatory pre-deposit of 1/4th of the awarded sum.

The High Court, in upholding the State Commission's ruling, stressed the necessity of adhering to the pre-deposit requirement for filing an appeal, stating, "The pre-deposit within stipulated period along with appeal is sine qua non for entertaining an appeal by the Commissioner."

Furthermore, the Court meticulously examined the Divisional Forum's order and found that it was not “suffering from any legal infirmity or illegality which may call for interference by this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. ”

It distinguished between technical defects arising from wear and tear during use, which may necessitate repairs, and manufacturing defects inherent from the outset. Emphasising that a manufacturing defect renders the vehicle unfit for its intended purpose, the Court asserted that “as is rightly held by the Forum, it was a case of replacement of the vehicle by a new vehicle and not a case of repair.”

Consequently, Maruti Suzuki's appeal was dismissed, as the Court found no merit in the petition for intervention.


Cause Title: Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. Vs Ramesh Chander Sharma and Anr [OWP No. 873/2009]