A lot of times, what happens is major automakers and their dealers get away with a lot of malpractices. However, in this particular instance, Hyundai India and one of its authorized dealers were asked to pay out a customer whose vehicle was burned. The Hassan District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, Karnataka, ruled that the car manufacturer and its dealer were liable for deficient service and unfair trade practices after selling a car with a manufacturing defect. The court has directed the company to provide a brand-new Hyundai Santro and compensate the customer with a sum of 1.4 lakhs.
According to reports, an elderly gentleman aged around 75 purchased a brand-new Hyundai Santro M.T Sportz car from Advathi Motors Pvt. Ltd. on June 11, 2019. The customer made a total cash payment of Rs. 6,25,663. Following this purchase, it was reported that the vehicle received regular care and underwent two servicing sessions. The first service was done by the same dealership on September 4, 2019. Meanwhile, the second service was done on June 26, 2020, by Advathi Hyundai.
It was then stated that on October 17, 2020, while the customer was traveling from Banavara to Arasikere, a horrifying incident occurred – the car suddenly caught fire. The customer and their driver were forced to abandon the vehicle, and with the help of the public, the fire was eventually extinguished. Thankfully, the customer and their driver did not suffer any major injuries and were safe. However, this incident caused them a lot of inconvenience.
Legal Actions Taken
Following the incident, the customer immediately reported the matter to the showroom and also filed an FIR at the Banavara police station. Soon after, both the seller, which is the showroom (representatives), and its owner assured the customer that they would make alternate arrangements for him while they worked on a replacement. Afterward, the customer trusted them and waited for a reasonable amount of time.
However, neither the showroom nor its owner made any efforts or provided an alternative vehicle to the customer. So, after getting frustrated by their ignorance, the customer sent both the parties a legal notice. However, these attempts did not lead to anything, and they ignored his notice. This ignorance then led the old gentleman to promptly file a formal consumer complaint with the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in Hassan, Karnataka.
During their ongoing fight at the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, the customer argued that the car had a manufacturing defect, which led to the fire incident. They contended that the vehicle caught fire while in operation on the road, strongly indicating a manufacturing defect, citing a survey report to support their claim. Additionally, the customer also highlighted the seller and showroom’s promises to provide an alternative vehicle, which were never fulfilled. He added that this incident resulted in physical and mental stress, as well as a significant financial burden to him.
The Court’s Verdict
Following the hearing, the District Commission applied the principle of “Res ipsa loquitur” – this Latin phrase translates to “the thing speaks for itself.” The court found that the case of a fire accident was likely due to a manufacturing defect unless proven otherwise. In this instance, both the seller and the showroom failed to provide evidence to disprove the presence of a manufacturing defect.
Following this, Hyundai India also failed to present any evidence to counter the customer’s claims. As a result, the District Commission passed a strong judgment directing Hyundai India, the seller, and the showroom to jointly provide the customer with a new car of the same brand or equivalent value.
In addition, all of the parties involved on the other side were directed to pay the customer Rs. 20,000 as compensation for the mental agony they endured and another Rs. 20,000 to cover the costs incurred. Additionally, it was also stated in the report that the showroom, in particular, was held responsible for the unauthorized use of the customer’s vehicle. The court directed that for this, they will have to pay the customer Rs. 1 lakh as compensation for the unauthorized use and deficiency of service.