The Supreme Court has set aside an order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) or consumer court, which directed a car dealer to pay Rs 7.43 lakh compensation for deficiency of service over a misleading advertisement, saying the interest of the dealers is not independent of the vehicle manufacturer.
The complainant, who purchased a Ford Fiesta (Diesel) car from AB Motors Pvt Ltd, Dehradun, claimed that Ford India Pvt Ltd had published a "misleading" advertisement in newspapers claiming an "average mileage of 31.4 km litre" whereas the "actual mileage was 15-16 km/litre".
He filed a complaint before the District Forum which was allowed and the manufacturer along with the dealer were directed to make a payment of Rs 7,43,200 to him upon the return of the vehicle. A sum of Rs 10,000 was also awarded towards costs.
Ford India filed an appeal before the State Commission which was dismissed. Later, the NCDRC allowed the revision petition.
Consequently, the dealers continued to be saddled with the liability of the direction issued by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum to pay the price of the car.
The Supreme Court was hearing an appeal filed by the dealer against the NCDRC order which allowed the revision filed by the manufacturer of the vehicle in question.
A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian said the NCDRC has recorded a finding that the alleged misleading advertisement was issued on June 20, 2007, whereas the vehicle was purchased on March 9, 2007.
"Therefore, it was held that the consumer cannot be said to be misled by the advertisement."
"Since the interest of the Dealers is not independent of the Manufacturer of the vehicle, we find that the order passed by the Consumer Fora under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 cannot be sustained against the Dealers, whose interest is common with the manufacturer of the vehicle, in fact derives from the manufacturer of the vehicles," the bench said.
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