MRTP not to enteratin allegations of deficiency in service: SC

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New Delhi, Nov 2 (UNI) The Supreme Court has recently held that the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commision (MRTP) is competent to entertain petitions only when there are allegations of unfair trade practices but not in the case of deficiency in service.

A bench comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Mukundakam Sharma, while allowing the appeal of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines against an MRTP order holding it guilty of deficiency in service, in their judgement noted, ''What is sought to be done by the MRTP Commission is to hold that the appellant is guilty of unfair trade practice, which is not equal to holding a person guilty of providing deficient service.

''Element of unfair trade practice definitely stands at a higher and onerous platform than the deficient service.

''For making out a case of unfair trade practice, an element is involved to the extent of making false and misleading statement and representation. In order to make a case of unfair trade practice, such ingredients, which are part and parcel of the concept of such trade practice, have to be alleged and must be proved and established.

''In the present case, there is neither such allegation of any such false and misleading representation nor is there any proof provided by way of evidence which also we have perused.

''Therefore, there could be no findings by the MRTP Commission that the appellant is guilty of unfair trade practice. That being so the order of the Commission cannot be upheld and the same is set aside,'' the bench noted.

Maharaja and Company had filed a complaint alleging that out of the three parcels booked by them with the Dutch Airlines on September 21, 1995, two went missing. The appellant, a worldwide Airlines company with its headquarters at Amsterdam in the Netherlands, had duly informed the complainant. The two parcels, which were booked for carriage from New Delhi to New Orleans, USA, were later on traced and forwarded to their destination on October 20, 1995.

Maharaja and Company, however, claimed Rs six lakhs as compensation from the appellant on account of negligence and deficiency in service and also contended that the parcels which were carrying the material for a particular tournament, meetings and conferences reached the destination after the event was over.

They also filed the complaint before Delhi State Consumer Redressal Commision, which is still pending.

The Dutch Airlines aggrieved by the order dated October 11, 2001, had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. The MRTP in its order also directed the air carrier that they would in future cease and desist from the aforesaid practice of providing deficient service.

UNI SC GL RR BD1213

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