The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of Chandigarh directed Tata Motors Finance Limited to return a vehicle which was seized from a Chandigarh resident by their recovery agents without issuing notice. The commission also directed the company to pay Rs 1.2 lakh as compensation and litigation cost.
Sanjiv Thakur stated in his complaint that in order to earn his livelihood, he purchased Tata Indigo ECS TDI car for Rs 5,26,886 after availing loan of Rs 3.8 lakh from Tata Motors Finance Limited in December, 2015, and got it registered. Thakur said that the loan was to be repaid to the company in 48 equated monthly installments of Rs 11,844.
Thakur did not pay two installments in 2017 due to a financial crisis, which created an overdue outstanding amount of Rs 48,071.45, which he cleared on October, 2018. Another installment in January, 2019, was defaulted due to a death in his family. However, he claimed he had been paying the remaining installments from February, 2019, and as such paid Rs 4,26,590.38 by way of 36 installments. The balance amount to be repaid was Rs 1,41,921.
Thakur alleged that on March 22, 2019, when he was away at Phagwara, Punjab, after dropping passengers, five men with knives forcibly took the car and ran away. He reported the matter to the police, but later came to know that it was the recovery agents who had taken the car away. As per contract, the car was also kept to be auctioned.
Tata Motors Finance Limited did not file a reply and evidence, rather filed an application to dismiss Thakur, stating that he failed to adhere to the financial discipline of the agreement and an amount of Rs 2,73,544.54 was due against him as of February 8, 2018.
The company said the matter was referred to sole arbitrator, who issued him notices, but he did not appear. Then they proceeded ex-parte, and the arbitrator passed the award on May 5, 2018, in favour of the company with liberty to sell the vehicle to recover the outstanding amount.
The commission after hearing the arguments said, that Tata Motors, despite their claims, has produced no documents on record. Even if the car had been auctioned, the company has acted arbitrarily and illegally by not intimating Thakur.
The commission thus directed it to return the vehicle to Thakur in a roadworthy condition, failing which they will be liable to pay the Insured Declared Value of the vehicle (Rs 3,31,380), minus the outstanding loan amount of Rs 1,06,596 as on April 25, 2019. It was also directed to pay a compensation amount of Rs 1 lakh for harassment, and Rs 20,000 as litigation cost.
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