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Whether ‘trust’ would come within the definition of a ‘Consumer’? – Referred to larger Bench.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Aniruddha Bose referred a matter before the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India. The question of law which referred to the larger bench is whether a Charitable Trust could maintain an action under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and claim compensation under the Act. ADMINISTRATOR SMT. TARA BAI DESAI CHARITABLE OPTHALMIC TRUST HOSPITAL, JODHPUR vs. MANAGING DIRECTOR SUPREME ELEVATORS INDIA PVT. LTD & ORS – S.L.P(CIVIL) No.18636 OF 2019 – OCTOBER 04, 2019.

The Supreme Court observed:

“In the circumstances, we find it difficult to accept that a “trust” would not come within the definition of a “consumer”. In our view, the issue requires to be revisited and the matter requires re-consideration.”

The court further states that the term ‘person’ in the act intends to give a wide meaning, where an unregistered firm can also be brought in unless it has any legal disability. The court further observed that the case of a “trust” may also come within the purview of the definition of “person” under the Act.

The Court while observing the matter held that ‘In our view, the case of a “trust” may also come within the purview of the definition of “person” under the Act. Moreover, the legislative intent appears to have a wider coverage and therefore the concerned provision includes number of categories under the definition of “person” so much so that even an unregistered firm which otherwise has certain disabilities in law, is also entitled to maintain an action’.

The Court referred the matter to the larger bench by disposing the pending application(s).

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