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Stay to be allowed on account of petitioner’s financial distress due to the Covid-19 pandemic subject to deposit of 50 per cent of the decretal amount: Delhi High Court

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused severe effects and consequences all over the country, including economic distress, which necessitates the requirement of the court’s consideration of providing interim relief under exceptional circumstances. This was held in the judgment passed by a single bench judge comprising HON’BLE MS. JUSTICE ASHA MENON, in the matter of M/S TDI INFRATECH LTD V. RAJESH ARORA (CM (M) 455/2021) dealt with an issue where the petitioner filed for a stay subject to the deposit of 50% of the decretal amount on account of the financial distress that the petitioner was undergoing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (‘NCDRC’), disposed of an application 2021 moved by the petitioner, seeking the stay of the order of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (‘SCDRC’), Chandigarh on 14th June, 2021. This application had been filed by the petitioner in an appeal it had preferred against the decision of the SCDRC, Chandigarh dated 24th February, 2021, whereby, the petitioner was directed to refund an amount of Rs.32,84,560/- and Rs.46,456/- to the respondent along with interest @ 12% per annum along with Rs.50,000/- as compensation. The petitioner submitted that the NCDRC not only overlooked the financial distress due to covid aspect but also failed to note that since 2012, the petitioner had been offering the possession of the plot to the respondent. As such, the direction for refund and that too, at such a high rate of interest was required to be modified. The NCDRC however directed that the full decretal amount be deposited.

 Reliance has also been placed on Omaxe Buildhome Pvt Ltd v. Mr. Ibrat Faizan wherein in similar circumstances, stay was granted subject to the deposit of 50% of the decretal amount. The counsel also submitted that before the introduction of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, under the old act i.e., the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, 50% or Rs. 35,000 was required to be deposited whichever was lower, in compliance of which the petitioner had deposited Rs. 35,000/-.  The respondent submitted that the petitioner has been misleading this Court by claiming that the appeal had been filed under Section 51 of the Act of 2019, whereas it was actually filed before the NCDRC under Section 19 of the Act of 1986. It was submitted that on this short ground of misleading the Court, this petition ought to be dismissed.

After hearing both the parties The hon’ble Delhi High court held that the contention of the counsel for the respondent cannot be accepted according to the judgment of Supreme Court in Export Credit Guarantee Corporation Ltd(supra). It also ordered that the impugned order is set aside. On the deposit of 50 per cent of the decretal amount, within eight weeks with the SCDRC, Chandigarh, the judgment of the SCDRC dated 24th February, 2021 and execution, if any, shall remain stayed till the disposal of the appeal by the NCDRC.

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