Can a BPL citizen file a complaint under CPA for poor services?8 Feb, 2013
My views are differ in regard to sub para no. 5 of Para no. 2 i.e.Interpretation of the legal terms in which it is stated that the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) can be used only when a fee has been paid, conversely, in case of a Below poverty line (BPL) applicant, this remedy would not be available. But as per mine opinion if those persons who has been paid fee for seeking information falls under the ambit of‘Service’ as defined under section 2(1)(o) of CPA, 1986, then Below Poverty Line applicants, who are not liable to pay any fee for seeking information under Right to Information Act 2005 and are also falls under the ambit of "Service" as defined u/s 2(1)(o) of CPA 1986. However mine views are supported with land mark judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court titled as "INDIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION VS V.P. SHANTHA & ORS, III(1995)CPJ 1(SC)". In which the Apex court held that the Government hospitals may not be commercial in that sense but on the overall consideration of the objectives and the scheme of the Act it would not be possible to treat the Government hospitals differently. We are of the view that in such a situation the persons belonging to 'poor class' who are provided services free of charges are the beneficiaries of the service which is hired or availed by the 'paying class". Held Further: " Service rendered at a Government hospital/health centre/dispensary where services are rendered on payment of charges and also rendered free of charge to other persons availing such services would fall within the ambit of the expression 'service' as defined in Section 2(1)(o) of the Act irrespective of the fact that the serv ice is rendered free of charge to persons who do not pay for such service. Free service would also be 'service' and the recipient a 'consumer' under the Act'.
Similarly persons who belongs to Below property line are also beneficiary of those information seekers who sought information after paying prescribed fee.
But unfortunately the Hon'ble National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi had reversed it own decision on 31-03-2011 by holding that information seeker is not consumer in Revision Petition no. 4061 of 2010 titled as 'I.T. Pundalika Vs.Revenue Department (service division), Government of Karnatka, Banglolre. So this is not good sign for information seekers.