‘A’ applied for a ration card. Is he a consumer? Decide.
No. ‘A’ is not a consumer as under Sec. 2 (1) (d) (ii) which reads ‘a consumer means any person who hires or avails of any services for a consideration’.
Further Sec. 2 (1) (o) defines service – service of any description which is made available to potential (users and includes, but not limited to, the provision of) facilities in connection with banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, board or lodging or both, (housing construction), entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service.
Service under Sec. 2 (1) (o) does not mean and include every kind of services.
It means and includes only such services which are commercial in nature and are rendered against payment of money.
Services rendered by institutions including Government institutions such as Bank, Insurance Companies, transport agencies, etc against payment of money would be services under the Act, but not the services rendered by the Government, Public servants, doctors, lawyers etc.
In the instant case, issue of ration card is free of charge (non commercial) and purely Governmental service which does not come under the purview of service as mentioned in Sec. 2 (1) (o).
‘A’ is, therefore, not a consumer and hence cannot be a complainant to prefer a complaint in any Consumer forum.
The same view was held in the following cases:
- Delay in issue of certificate for obtaining ration card – the applicant is not a consumer. (Y. Sam Vs. V.N. Vidyadharan and another 1994 (1) CPJ 203, p. 203 (NCDRC)
- A promise to pay subsidy to industry by Central Government in backward area – is not a service. (Haryana Financial Corportion of Chandigarh Vs. M/S. Jamna Dass Cotton Mills of Hansi, 1993 (1) CPJ 238, p. 241 (Har. SCDRC)
- State providing justice to litigants through Courts – not service (State of Gujarat Vs. Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat, 1993 (1), CPR 327, p.332. (Guj. SCDRC).
- Allotment of a shop by Municipality – not a service (Commissioner, Municipal Corporation Vs. Rajesh Singh 1993 (1) CPR 577, p. 579 (M.P. SCDRC)
- Payment of subsidy – is not a service (M/s. Sawhney Export House Pvt. Ltd., Vs. Noida and others, 1993 (3) CPR 407, p. 408 (NCDRC)