Sudhanva Shetty Shetty
Writer, coffee-addict, likes folk music & long walks in the rain. Firmly believes that there's nothing more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate.
A consumer court has fined car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki Rs 60,000 for denying him service on a newly bought car, despite it being under the warranty period, because he drove the car through a waterlogged area.
The customer, 70-year-old Balbir Singh, approached the consumer court to seek redress. After two years, the case has closed and the court has ordered Maruti Suzuki to pay Mr Singh Rs 50,000 as compensation for the harassment and an additional Rs 10,000 to cover the litigation costs.
Singh’s car was reportedly facing the problem of hydrostatic lock – a condition in the car caused by entry of water inside the engine. This happened when Singh was driving through Narela, Delhi when the streets were wet.
The car company, however, contended that the car’s breaking down was the result of driving the car negligently, which is not covered in the warranty period.
Balbir Singh told India Today, “I was driving my new car and it suddenly stopped on the road near Narela which was towed to the authorised dealer of Maruti Suzuki. They told me that my car was facing a trouble that could not be covered under warranty and gave me a huge amount as an estimate for the repair. How is it possible that in a place like Delhi which usually faces a problem of waterlogging, one will not include hydrostatic lock under warranty. I felt cheated.”
The court observed that the manufacturer had not mentioned in its list of conditions terms and conditions that the vehicle should not be driven in waterlogged areas.
The court observed, “In case of sudden excessive rain and consequential waterlogging in the area, the consumer is not expected to leave the vehicle in the middle of the road and to swim in the road. The manufacturer while manufacturing the product is under a duty to safeguard the interest of consumer of the vehicle in such conditions and to install safety devices in the vehicle. It is also under a duty to provide free of charges repair in such cases.”
The consumer court ruled that Maruti Suzuki should have repaired Mr Singh’s car free of charge. Holding the company guilty of deficiency in service, the court ordered it to attend to the car free of charge within a month and awarded a total compensation of Rs 60,000, Rs 10,000 of which was to cover the litigation charges.
The Logical Indian community appreciates the decision of the consumer court as it will go a long way in ensuring consumers’ rights. Very often it so happens that big corporations and multinationals exploit their power and status to not deliver on their promises and assurances, to the chagrin of the common man. In these instances it is encouraging to see the courts and concerned authorities stand up for our rights. Responsible citizens like Balbir Singh should be encouraged and applauded for making sure to hold those in violation of the law accountable to the same.
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