Maruti Suzuki India Limited, a leading carmaker in India, has been ordered by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) to pay Rs 1 lakh to a customer for providing misleading information about the fuel efficiency of his car.
In a ruling last week, the NCDRC bench, led by Dr Inder Jit Singh as the presiding member, stated, “Normally, a prospective purchaser of a car enquires into the fuel efficiency feature of the car as an important aspect and makes a comparative study of different brands/cars in the same segment with respect to their respective fuel efficiency…We have carefully gone through the advertisement dated 20 October 2004 in this regard, and are of the considered view that it is a misleading advertisement. Issuance of such advertisement amounts to unfair trade practice on the part of manufacturer and dealer.”
The complaint has been filed by Rajiv Sharma, who bought the car in 2004, enticed by advertisements promising a fuel economy of 16-18 kilometers per liter. However, after purchase, Mr. Sharma found the car’s actual mileage to be considerably lower, averaging only 10.2 kilometers per liter.
Feeling deceived, Mr. Sharma sought redress from the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. He requested a full refund of the car’s purchase price, including interest, registration expenses, and insurance, totaling Rs 4,00,000. The District Forum partially granted his request, awarding him a compensation of Rs 1 lakh.
Unhappy with this decision, Maruti Suzuki appealed to the State Commission. However, the State Commission upheld the District Forum’s order. The case then escalated to the NCDRC, led by Justice Inder Jit Singh. Mr. Sharma was represented by legal counsel Tarun Kumar Tiwari, while Maruti Suzuki was represented by Vipin Singhania and Diwakar.
It is noteworthy that DD Motors, the dealership from which Mr. Sharma purchased the car, failed to appear in court despite receiving summonses. Consequently, the case proceeded against them ex parte, meaning it was decided in their absence.
Both parties submitted written arguments to the NCDRC, with Mr. Sharma presenting his case on August 7, 2023, and Maruti Suzuki responding on November 2, 2023.
The NCDRC ultimately upheld the previous rulings, concluding that Maruti Suzuki’s advertised mileage claims were misleading and constituted a violation of consumer rights. Consequently, the automobile giant was ordered to pay Mr. Sharma ₹1 lakh in compensation.