Car company ordered to pay ₹5 lakh compensation after vehicle catches fire
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed an Indian subsidiary of a Czech Republic-based automobile manufacturer to pay ₹5 lakh compensation to a man whose car allegedly caught fire 14 years ago.
The Maharashtra-based man claimed that in May 2007, while his brother and his family were returning from Rampuri to Nagpur, the driver noticed smoke coming out from the car’s bonnet, following which the car began blazing and burnt within 20-25 minutes.
The man averred that he suffered a loss of ₹15 lakh, out of which, the insurance company made a settlement of ₹10,99,000. He then filed a complaint seeking compensation of ₹1 crore from the car manufacturer for the mental agony.
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However, in November 2015, his complaint was dismissed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on the grounds that the manufacturing defect in the car was not proved, following which he filed an appeal against the order in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).
Setting aside the 2015 order, NCDRC presiding member Ram Surat Ram Maurya said it would be appropriate to award ₹5 lakh as non-pecuniary compensation to the man as “deficiency in service on the part of the opposite party is proved".
The commission, in an order dated September 29, directed the car manufacturer to pay compensation of ₹5 lakh with an interest of 9 per cent per annum from the date of accident and the cost of ₹one lakh to the complainant within two months.
The man had claimed that he bought the car in March 2006 for ₹13 lakh, regularly sent it for servicing to authorised service center, did not install any new thing and meticulously maintained it in the best way.
On the other hand, the vehicle manufacturer claimed that the complainant tampered with the electric system of the car and installed a non-genuine fitment of a stereo amplifier in the boot of the car at an unauthorised service center.
The company pointed out that the fire must have taken place due to a short circuit with the electric system of the car from the tampered point. “The complainant was himself responsible for the fire incident," it told the commission, claiming that the complaint was filed to defame them and extract money.