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Judgment bringing Doctors under C P Act requires reconsideration : SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said its 1995 judgement which brought the medical profession within the ambit of Consumer Protection Act needs to be reconsidered. A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal said the decision of the three-judge bench deserves to be revisited and considered by a larger bench."In our humble opinion, the said decision deserves to be revisited having regard to the history, object, purpose and the scheme of the Consumer Protection Act and in view of the opinion expressed by us hereinabove to the effect that neither the 'Profession' could be treated as 'business' or 'trade' nor the services provided by the 'Professionals' could be treated at par with the services provided by the Businessmen or the Traders, so as to bring them within the purview of the CP Act," the bench said.
The issue, which is relevant for members of the Bar, emerged from a judgment delivered by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in 2007. The Commission had ruled that the services rendered by lawyers are covered under Section 2 (o) of the Consumer Protection Act. While overruling this decision, the Court held that advocates cannot be held liable under the Consumer Protection Act 1986 (as re-enacted in 2019) for deficiency of services. It reasoned that professionals have to be treated differently from persons carrying out business and trade. 
In 1995, the Supreme Court delivered a decision in Indian Medical Association Vs VP Shantha case which brought the medical profession within the ambit of a service as defined in Section 2(1)(o) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.Section 2(1)(o) of the Act defines the word "service" to mean a "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, boarding 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".
misconduct or tortious or criminal acts.

 


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