Any Evidence Is Enough
Bill Not Necessary for Consumer Forum
At some point, many of you must have felt aggrieved enough to want to formally complain against some product manufacturer or a service provider. But you did not do that thinking you had little evidence of purchase – you had forgotten to take the bill. You were probably a little right in your thinking, but not entirely so.
One thing that every consumer in India must remember is that consumer forums are open to every citizen as long as they can prove that their complaint is right and they are a ‘consumer’ of either a service or a product made or sold by the party they are complaining against. Yes, bills are good but are not necessary evidence. Also, do not be surprised if some retailer refuses to issue a bill because issuing bill is not legally mandatory in India. As much as you have the right to ask for it, there is no mandatory pressure on the retailer to issue the same.
So, how can you validate a purchase without a bill? Interestingly, any secondary evidence is acceptable in the consumer forum. The forum may accept ordinary documents such as a visiting card of
the seller wherein he may have signed showing an advance payment made, or even a handwritten note on an ordinary paper admitting a sale or a service rendered. A neutral witness to the sale can be helpful in strengthening your complaint.
When Shampoo Killed Her Hair
clinic. However, the treatment did not help and Kaur eventually had to get her hair cut.
A distressed Kaur filed a formal complaint against P&G, the retailer, as well as VLCC for deficiency in service and unfair trade practices. The Sangrur district forum held P&G and the retailer liable and directed them to pay Rs 25,000 as compensation to Kaur.
P&G, backed by a battery of legal consultants, appealed against the district forum’s decision at the Punjab State Commission. Looking at the merit of the complaint, the appeal was dismissed. Moreover, P&G was asked to pay an additional sum of Rs 2,000 (along with the Rs 25,000 as directed by district forum) as compensation to the complainant.
P&G held their ground and reached the National Commission seeking revision of orders of the district and state commissions. The company presented legal and technical objections. They claimed that the bill for the purchase had not been produced and also challenged Kaur’s right to file a consumer complaint, contending that the shampoo had been bought by her father. The company also questioned the jurisdiction of the district forum as the company did not have any office in that particular district.
Defending their product, the company contended that their shampoo had been developed after thorough research by leading hair specialists and was subjected to testing according to global
Do not be surprised if some retailer refuses to issue a bill because issuing bill is not legally mandatory in India. As much as you have the right to ask for it, there is no
mandatory pressure on an unwilling retailer to issue the
When Taranjit Kaur had to get her hair cut as they were completely damaged after using an expired shampoo, she had every reason to question the shampoo’s seller and the manufacturer.
Kaur had used a ninemillilitre sachet of Pantene Pro V shampoo that her father Amarjit Singh bought from a local mom-andpop retailer. Little did she know that the shampoo had expired five years ago and it could damage her hair, gum them all together, and make them lose their natural form.
Aggrieved, Kaur’s father complained to Procter & Gamble (P&G), the sole distributors of Pantene. P&G admitted to the mistake and agreed to find a solution to help Kaur in getting her hair back in shape. The company asked Kaur to go for treatment at Vandana Luthra Care Clinic ( VLCC) and committed to paying for one-time treatment at the
standards. Also, they said, the complainant had failed to file any test report to prove that the product was defective.
The National Commission studied the facts and dismissed all arguments of P&G citing various reasons. In its 7 July 2014 judgement, delivered by Dr SM Kantikar for the bench along with Justice JM Malik, the commission observed that P&G could not escape liability because the bill was not available. It held that the shampoo had been purchased from a retailer at Dhrui in Sangrur, so the district forum would be vested with the jurisdiction to decide upon the complaint, whether or not P&G had their office there.
The commission noted that Taranjit had produced the empty pouch and a tuft of the damaged hair as evidence. They agreed with Taranjit that she could not have sent the shampoo for testing as the sachet contained only nine millilitres of shampoo. At the same time, the commission questioned P&G’s failure to send other similar pouches for testing. P&G then requested the commission to send the empty pouch for testing the traces, but the request was turned down as the shampoo had crossed its expiry date.
The National Commission observed that the tuft produced by Taranjit showed it to be damaged and discoloured. They also observed that any compulsion to remove hair might cause cosmetic embarrassment to a girl. Further, the commission declared that P&G could not escape being held liable for deficiency in service merely because it had borne the cost of a onetime treatment at VLCC. On the contrary, it would be construed as a clandestine admission of liability and an attempt to save skin. P&G was indicted for continuing the litigation and dragging the consumer to the National Commission for a meagre Rs 25,000 compensation.
Point to Be Noted
The complainant in the above-discussed case did not have a bill, nor did she have any other concrete evidence as proof of the purchase. The National Commission did not hesitate in relying upon other factors to help the consumer.
Consumer Voice has always underlined the fact that consumer forums are not civil courts. The Civil Procedure Code or the Evidence Act is not strictly followed by the consumer forums – they adopt summery procedures provided under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act. In the case discussed here, the National Commission did not look for the evidence; they understood the circumstantial fact and stood by the consumer.
Consumer forums are not civil courts. The Civil Procedure Code or the Evidence Act is not strictly followed by the