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Customers Entitled to Replacement for Vehicles with Manufacturing Defects from Inception : J&K HC

Customers Entitled to Replacement for Vehicles with Manufacturing Defects from Inception : J&K HC

The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has affirmed that customers have the right to request a replacement vehicle if their car exhibits a manufacturing defect right from the outset.

The division bench, comprising, Justices Sanjeev Kumar and Puneet Gupta, underscored the clear differentiation between repairs for wear-and-tear issues and replacements for inherent manufacturing flaws.

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

Ramesh Chander Sharma, a resident of Jammu, bought a Maruti 800 car from Pathankot Vehicleades Pvt. Ltd. Shortly after the purchase, Sharma encountered technical issues with the vehicle. Despite making repeated attempts to address the problem, the dealership allegedly delayed conducting a thorough inspection. Subsequently, it was revealed that the car had a manufacturing defect in the engine.

Sharma lodged a consumer complaint with the Divisional Consumer Forum in Jammu, requesting the replacement of the defective vehicle with a new one. The dealership and Maruti Suzuki opposed the claim, contending that the defect was minor and could be remedied through repairs.

Upon scrutinizing the evidence, the Forum determined that the car indeed had a manufacturing defect from the beginning. Consequently, it instructed the dealership to either provide a replacement vehicle or reimburse the purchase amount of Rs. 1,94,195.60 with an interest rate of 9% per annum.

Maruti Suzuki challenged this decision by appealing to the State Consumer Commission. However, the appeal was dismissed for two primary reasons: it was filed after the limitation period had expired, and it lacked the mandatory pre-deposit of 1/4th of the awarded amount.

Affirming the decision of the State Commission, the Court underscored the importance of the pre-deposit requirement for filing an appeal, stating, "The pre-deposit within the stipulated period, along with the appeal, is essential for entertaining an appeal by the Commissioner."

Additionally, the Court thoroughly scrutinized the order issued by the Divisional Forum and identified no legal deficiencies. The Court made a clear distinction between technical defects arising from wear and tear during usage, which might necessitate repairs, and manufacturing defects inherent from the outset.

The Court emphasized that a manufacturing defect renders the vehicle unfit for its intended purpose and warrants replacement rather than mere repairs. Consequently, it dismissed Maruti Suzuki's appeal, stating that there were no legal grounds for intervention.

Case Title: Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. Vs Ramesh Chander Sharma and anr.

Ms. Aruna Thakur, Advocate represented Maruti Suzuki while None appeared for respondents

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