Jammu & Kashmir HC Rules That Consumers Can Demand A Car Replacement On Manufacturing Defects, Not Just Repair

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Case Title: Maruti Suzuki India Ltd vs Ramesh Chander Sharma

A division bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar and Justice Puneet Gupta of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court while dismissing the appeal filed by the Maruti Suzuki India, ruled that consumers can demand a car replacement on finding manufacturing defects of the vehicle he purchased.

 A consumer complaint was filed by Ramesh Chander Sharma against Maruti and a car dealer, M/S Pathankot Vehicleades Pvt. Limited, Pathankot.

The complaint alleged that a defective Maruti 800 car was sold to the consumer. The consumer stated that the vehicle had technical issues right from the start. Despite informing the dealer early on, the resolution was delayed with various excuses. It was later discovered that the engine had a manufacturing defect. The consumer requested a replacement for the faulty vehicle.

Maruti declined the replacement offer and suggested repairing the defect. Consequently, Sharma approached the consumer forum, seeking either a replacement or a refund.

The district and State consumer courts ruled in favor of the consumer, ordering Maruti to replace the car or refund the full amount of ₹1.94 lakh, along with interest and costs. Maruti contested this decision in the High Court, which upheld the rulings of the consumer court.

The bench said that the car manufacturer can address and rectify a technical defect arising during vehicle use, however, they are accountable for a manufacturing defect present from the vehicle’s inception.

The Court differentiated between defects that manifest during the car’s use and those originating from manufacturing at the time of purchase.

The bench said “Repairs may be called for if the vehicles purchased during the course of its use suffers from a technical defect and not where the vehicle has manufacturing defect”.

The bench further noted that the State consumer forum rejected Maruti’s appeal due to delays in filing and non-compliance with the pre-deposit requirement of the sum mandated by the district forum.

The bench further held that “Indisputably, the vehicle i.e. Maruti Car 800 CC purchased by respondent No. 1 was suffering from a manufacturing defect from the very beginning and, therefore, as is rightly held by the Forum, it was a case of replacement of the vehicle by a new vehicle and not a case of repair….. The Forum has, therefore, taken a correct view of the matter and directed the petitioner along with respondent No. 2 to either replace the vehicle by new one or in alternative refund the amount of Rs. 1,94,195/- along with interest @ 9 % per annum. Viewed from any angle, we do not find any merit in this petition and the same is, accordingly, dismissed,” 

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