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A maximum time to file WS/Reply in Consumer Complaint is 45 days from the date of receipt of complaint - objection as to non-receipt of complaint is to be taken on first date; SC (Constitutional Bench).

Supreme Court of India

Justice Arun Mishra, Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice Vineet Saran, Justice M. R. Shah & Justice S. Ravindra Bhat

The SC {NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO. LTD. v. HILLI MULTIPURPOSE COLD  STORAGE PVT. LTD.} holds that the District Forum has no power to extend the time for filing the response to the   complaint   beyond the period of 15 days   in   addition to 30 days as is envisaged under   Section   13   of   the   Consumer   Protection Act; and the commencing point of limitation of 30 days under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act would be from the date of receipt of the notice accompanied with the complaint by the opposite party, and not mere receipt of the notice of the complaint. It was held that this Judgment is to operate prospectively. 

It was further held that the objection of not having received a copy of the complaint along with the notice should be raised   on   the   first   date   itself   and   not   thereafter,   otherwise   if permitted to be raised at any point later would defeat the very purpose   of   the   Act,   which   is   to   provide   simple   and   speedy redressal of consumer disputes.

In the present case, the reference was made to the Constitution Bench to decide whether Section 13(2) (a)   of   the   Consumer   Protection   Act,   which   provides   for   the respondent/opposite party filing its response to the complaint within 30 days or such extended period, not exceeding 15 days, should   be   read   as   mandatory   or   directory. And it is answered as aforesaid by the SC – i.e. it is mandatory; limitation cannot be extended beyond 15 days; maximum time to file WS is 45 days in consumer matters.

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