Supreme Court Set to Reassess Consumer Protection Act’s Impact on Medical Practitioners

The Supreme Court expressed the need to reconsider its 1996 ruling regarding the applicability of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) to medical professionals. In the case of Indian Medical Association v VP Shantha, the Court had determined that medical services fall under the Act if they involve payment. However, Justices Bela Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal remarked that there’s no indication that the legislature intended to include professionals in the Act’s scope, which primarily aims to safeguard consumers from unfair trade practices.

Consequently, the Court suggested revisiting the decision and requested the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to refer the matter to a larger bench.

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The Court delivered its verdict on whether services provided by lawyers fall within the scope of the Consumer Protection Act. It differentiated the legal profession from business, emphasizing the need for specialized skills and training in law.

Consequently, it concluded that legal professionals cannot be equated with businessmen under the CPA, thus excluding lawyers’ services from its purview. This decision prompts a reconsideration of the ruling in Indian Medical Association v VP Shantha.

The issue emerged from a 2007 ruling by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which included lawyers’ services under the Act, citing the bilateral monetary contract between clients and lawyers. The Supreme Court suspended the NCDRC ruling on April 13, 2009.

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About the Author: Payal Singh