By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: One cannot file a consumer complaint regarding deficiency in service on part of a hospital/doctor on behalf of a family member, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Dismissing an appeal filed by the brother-in-law of the aggrieved woman, a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramaian said one cannot file such complaint only on the ground that he/she is the ‘karta’ of a Hindu undivided family. “The concept of ‘Joint Hindu Family’ does not extend to the treatment of a pregnant sister-in-law,” the two-judge SC bench said.

The petitioner had challenged in SC the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission’s order upholding the dismissal of his complaint against a clinic alleging deficiency in service regarding the treatment given to his pregnant sister-in-law. He stated in the complaint that he availed the services for consideration on behalf of his sister-in-law, being the ‘karta’ of a Hindu joint family. 

Referring to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the bench noted that a complainant means any person who hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid/promised or partly paid/promised and includes a beneficiary of services.

“The brother-in-law of a pregnant woman would not be a beneficiary of any services rendered by the respondent. There is no allegation that he has paid or promised any consideration for engaging the services. The only assertion in the complaint is that he is the ‘karta’ of a Joint Hindu Family, therefore, he is entitled to file a complaint on account of the alleged deficiency of service,” the court noted while dismissing the appeal

Appellant was not the aggrieved

“The appellant herein is the ‘karta’ of a Joint Hindu Family. He cannot be said to be availing the services of a medical pract-itioner in respect of the pregnancy of his sister-in-law,” the bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasub-ramaian said.