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The Supreme Court today held that Consumer Courts cannot grant time to the opposite party to file a reply beyond a total period of 45 days, as mandated under Section 13(2)(a) of the Consumer Protection Act
However, the Court clarified that the limitation to file the reply would start only on the receipt of the full copy of the notice and not a simpliciter notice.
The Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah, Vineet Saran, Indira Banerjee and Ravindra Bhat passed the judgment today, after reserving orders in January.
The Consumer Protection Act requires the opposite party to submit its reply within 30 days or such extended period not exceeding 15 days as granted by the consumer forum.
The petitioners in the matter had averred that that such extension of the time period as against what is stipulated, would not cause any grave illegality. The time period mentioned in the Act was directory in nature and not mandatory, it was argued.
It was averred that vide Topline Shoes v. Corporation Bank, the Supreme Court had authoritatively decided that reply filed by the OP beyond 45 days would not be rejected.
The Supreme Court has ruled to the contrary today, finding that no such time extension can be granted beyond the 45 day outer limit prescribed in the Consumer Protection Act.
[Read the Judgment]