Posted On by &filed under Judgements.


National Consumer Disputes Redressal
Usha (India) Ltd. vs State Estate Management Pvt. Ltd. on 15 November, 2000
Equivalent citations: I (2005) CPJ 43 NC


ORDER

C.L. Chaudhry. J., Member

1. The Complainant is a Public Limited Company. It has filed this complaint under Section 20 of the Consumer Protection Act seeking directions to the Opposite Party for award of compensation on account of deficiency in service on the part of the Opposite Party. The Complainant has alleged that the Company is of a great repute and has various international clients and various projects with the Government of India. The assets of the Company are worth more than Rs. 700 Crores.

2. The Opposite Party is a Private Limited Company and is carrying on its business of estate management. The Opposite Party looks after the maintenance and services of various premises for consideration. The common maintenance of the premises includes sweeping, swabbing, operation of lifts, water supply and other services connected with the day to day maintenance of the premises. It is alleged that the Complainant believes in good work culture and has made sustained efforts for providing clean, healthy and congenial working atmosphere for its employees. Over a period of time, the Complainant has earned a name as a pioneer in the field of steel and electronic items. The Complainant is manufacturing high quality electronic components and equipments and has recently been accredited ISO 9000 certification. It has set up and installed various plants. It also offers expert technical consultancy support to clients for setting up projects in iron and steel sectors. The Complainant has hired a number of flats in order to meet its demands. The day to day maintenance of Ansal Chambers of Bikaji Cama Place vests with the Opposite Party. The Opposite Party does not allow any other maintenance agency to maintain the premises in question. The Opposite Party is required to render the following maintenance services under the terms agreed:-

i) Lightening and scavenging of common areas such as halls, lobbies, staircases, roofs, basements, shafts and the precincts;

ii) Operation and maintenance of lifts;

iii) Free service of electrical/plumber to occupants for minor jobs in their flats, replacement of fuses, starters, chokes, tubes, holders of bulbs and switches etc. are attended to by the electrician free of charge. The plumber likewise is expected to attend to leaking pipes, cisterns, choked pipes and siphon defects etc., provided that the material used in rectification of the minor defects by the electrician and the plumber is to be provided by the occupiers of the flats:

iv) Maintenance of common bathrooms/toilets;

v) Horticultural work, if any;

vi) Maintenance of fire fighting equipment;

vii) Watch and ward of the building

viii) Insurance of the superstructure of the building and its machinery and equipment against the risk of fire.

ix) Repair replacement, if necessary, of capital goods, equipment and installations like pumps, electric cables, pipes, sewer lines, main manholes etc.

3. In the last two years, the Opposite Party has become very callous and negligent and is willfully and deliberately not rendering maintenance services properly. The staff of the Opposite Party is very rude and discourteous and does not attend the complaints properly. The area and stair case is very dirty. The tube-lights on the stair cases and corridors do not function properly and main defective most of the time. There is constant seepage in the flat and the same has not been rectified till date. There is no provisions for any stand-by generator to supply light on emergency basis. Sewerage line is chocked and over-flows and it emanates foul and unbearable smell.

4. As a direct result of the improper and untidy maintenance of the premises, the working atmosphere in the complainant and its sister concerns has become unhealthy, unhygienic and uncongenial. As a result, the whole business and work of the complainant and its sister concerns has come to a standstill. The Complainant made many requests by way of representations and complaints to the Manager, Senior officials of the Opposite Party but with no result. The Chairman of the complainant has undergone by-pass surgery and his physical health does not permit him to use the stair to reach his cabin in the office. As such the lift facility is essential for him. It is also pleaded that the persons operating the lift are rude and they misbehaved with him. The Complainant has very good business proposals with the foreign companies but because of unhealthy and untidy conditions, the foreign collaborators made it clear that its official, engineers, technocrats, cannot afford to work under such uncongenial atmosphere at any cost. The Complainant had suffered great shame and harassment on account of the same. As a direct consequence of the ill-maintenance of the premises, the status and reputation of the Complainant has been lowered to a great extent and the Complainant has been defamed beyond repair. On account of prevailing uncognigial atmosphere, the business of the Complainant is suffering to a great deal of loss.

5. Under these premises, the Complainant has claimed the following damages ::-

   i) Business loss per month           -      Rs. 2 Crores
per day Rs. 8.00 lakhs               -      Rs. 1.20 Crores  

ii) Potential loss                   -      Rs. 2 Crores

iii) Mental agony loss or reputation -      Rs. 1 Crore    

 

5. On being noticed, the Opposite Party has filed written version contesting the claim of the Complainant. In its reply the Opposite Party has denied the various allegations regarding the reputation of Company. It has been denied that the management of the Respondent Company is in the hands of Mr. Sushil Ansal as alleged by the Complainant. He has nothing to do with the respondent Company, but is the Chairman and Managing Director of the promoter Company. As per the contract between the promoter company and the owners of the flats, the maintenance charges in any event either to be paid by the owner or tenants of the flats. The Respondent Company is given to understand that as per the terms and conditions of the Flat Buyers Agreement between promoter company maintenance services has been placed on the promoter company. In so far as to extent of common maintenance services are concerned, contract referred to may be perused. It is denied that the average yearly bill of the Complainant towards the maintenance charges aggregates to Rs. 1,63,772/-. The same pertaining to the Complainant is Rs. 12,724.80. It is further alleged that the Complainant is one of the chronic defaulters in the matter of common maintenance charges. As far back as April, 1992, the Complainant alongwith their sister concerns were to pay Rs. 1,89,824/- which were the arrears towards maintenance and other charges. In spite of various reminders, the amount has not been paid. It is denied that the Respondent has become callous or negligent or that it is not rendering maintenance charges properly, willfully or regularly. It is also denied that the staff of the respondent is rude and discourteous or that the complaints are not attended to. It is specifically denied that the lift operators are rude and discourteous and do not stop at the desired floor. The Respondent is not in any way liable to provide alternative source of electricity for the premises of the Complainant. The Generator set is to be provided only for rendition of common maintenance services like operation of lifts and lighting of common areas. It is denied that water supply is irregular or that water is not made available during office hours. It is on very rare occasions that minor complaints are received regarding maintenance services which are promptly attended to. It is submitted that various unfounded grievances have been made by made by the Complainant and the present complaint has also been filed by the Complainant simply in an endeavour to escape the liability of payment of common maintenance charges. It is wrong that the working atmosphere has become unhealthy for any reason attributable to the Respondent or the quality of common maintenance services. The lifts have always been in proper working conditions and as and when any problems arose it was attended to. The reasons for the stories set up for the alleged inconvenience caused to Mr. Kulwant Rai are best known to the Complainant. There could no reason or occasion for the lift operator to mislead Mr. Kulwant Rai. Enquiries were duly made from the lift operator and other concerned, who denied that any such incident had happened. It is denied that the Complainant had to suffer shame and harassment due to any reason attributable to the Respondent. It is denied that the Complainant has been put to any monetary loss or loss of business or reputation on account of alleged ill-maintenance of the premises. If people do not opt to associate themselves or deal with the complainant for reasons best known to the Complainant or the said persons, the respondent cannot be blamed for the same. The possibility of people not wanting to deal with the Complainant after knowing about DDA’s orders to demolish large scale encroachments/unauthorised alterations and additions committed by the Complainant can also not be ruled out as this fact is of common knowledge in the complex. The Complainant has even committed certain violations which endanger public safety in the complex. It is denied that the Complainant has suffered any loss or damage, whatsoever, much less the account claimed in the Petition. The Complainants are guilty of making large scale misuse, encroachments, unauthorised alterations and additions, even compromising safety within the premises in their occupation and the whole complex. As detailed in the letter dated 6.6.94 sent by Opposite Party to the Complainant intimating to them orders passed by DDA vide their letter dated 26.5.94 to demolish all encroachments, violations, misuses, unauthorised additions and alterations committed by the Complainants. It would, therefore, be clear that the present complaint has also been made to cover up the serious defaults on their part in addition to non-payment of maintenance charges. Under these circumstances, it is prayed that the complaint be dismissed with costs.

6. The Complainant has filed the rejoinder to the written version filed on behalf of the Respondents. The contents of the written versions have been controverted and those which have been made in the complaint have been reiterated. It is stated that the yearly average of maintenance charges being paid by the Complainants comes to Rs. 1,93,058.40. The Complainant has cleared all the maintenance charges upto 31.12.91 by making a payment of Rs. 54,826.20. The said payment was released with clear understanding that the Respondent would improve the general maintenance and services of the building to the entire satisfaction of the flat owners. The amount of arrears of Rs. 1,97,556.50 as shown in the Opposite Party’s letter dated 25.6.94 as wrong. There is no misuses, encroachment, alterations and additions as alleged by the Opposite Party.

7. On behalf of the Complainants an Affidavit by way of evidence of Shri Madhu Sudan Lal, Director of the Complainant company has been filed. The affidavit so filed is virtually repetition of the complaint. Alongwith Affidavit certain letters written to the opposite parties have also been filed.

8. We have heard the learned Counsel for the parties. Mr. Krishnamani was contended that as a direct result of the improper and untidy maintenance of the premises, the working atmosphere in the Complainant and its sister concerns has become unhealthy, unhygienic and uncongenial. The Directors, senior officials and employees of the Complainant have become vexed on account of that. Many of the employees have taken ill frequently due to unhygienic conditions prevailing in the premises. Complaints of non-availability of water in toilets, drinking water, electricity failure start pouring in from the early morning hours. As a result, the whole business and work of the Complainant and its sister concerns has come to standstill. Members of the general public, businessmen, agents etc. flatly refuse to come to the Complainant for business and other important talks on account of bad maintenance. The Chairman experienced great hardship for improper working of the lifts.

9. On the other hand, Mr. Avatar Singh, appearing for the Opposite Party urged that there was no deficiency on the part of the Respondents. Whenever there was a complaint, it was properly attended to. Rather, the Complainants had raised illegal, unauthorised constructions in the flats and they are irregular in paying maintenance charges.

10. We have considered the relevant contentions. The Complainant has filed an affidavit of Madhusudan Lal Wadhwa, a Director of the Complainant Company, in support of the allegations made in the complaint. Along with the affidavit, copies of the letters written to the Respondent drawing their attention to attend to the complaints such as seepage of water, non-functioning and improper functioning of lifts causing inconvenience to its Chairman, leakage from toilet, supply of water, wrong parking of vehicles at space provided for the Company’s Chairman, non-functioning of tube-lights etc. have also been filed.

11. It may be noted that no agreement by which the services of the Opposite Parties were hired by the Complainant has been filed on the record. The matter cannot effectively be determined in the absence of the agreement incorporating the terms and conditions entered into between the parties. Nothing has been brought on record by the Complainant in support of their allegations that they had suffered any loss on account of the alleged lapses on the part of the Respondent. The allegations are general in nature. The Claimant has claimed business loss (i) per month Rs. 2 Crores and Rs 8 lakhs per day, (ii) potential loss over Rs. 2 Crores and (iii) mental agony and loss reputation at Rs. 1 crore. The compensation has been confined to rs. 50 lakhs. There is not even iota of evidence to prove the loss, if any, suffered by the Complainant. It is well settled law that compensation can be quantified only on rationale basis and on consideration of documentary and/or oral evidence produced showing the extent of loss suffered. Compensation can be awarded to a consumer only in respect of the loss or injury found to have been suffered by him due to the negligence of the opposite party. Assuming the allegations made in the complainant to be true, even then, we do not find any material on the record to prove that the complainant had suffered any loss for which he deserves to be compensated. In view of this, we find no merit in this complaint filed by the Complainant and it is dismissed. However, we leave the parties to bear their own costs.


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