My Lord, Consumer-Disputes are Non-Arbitrable?
The Arbitration Act does not exclude the jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum to decide Consumer-Disputes under The Consumer Act [Skypak Couriers Ltd., (2000) 5 SCC 294]. If X opts for Arbitration, it may be possible to state that X cannot, subsequently, file a Complaint under The Consumer Act. However, National Seeds Corporation Limited, (2012) 2 SCC 506 holds if X files the Complaint before a Consumer Forum as X-Consumer, on the first instance, X cannot be denied the opportunity to contest that Complaint by invoking Section 8 of The Arbitration Act.
The above stated position of law, consequent to The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 has remained the same and has been effectively considered by Hon’ble Justice Ashok Bhushan in M/s. Emaar MGF Land Limited v. Aftab Singh, Review Petition [Civil] Nos. 2629-2630 of 2018. It is not ‘decipherable from any material’ that the Amendment aimed to do away with special or additional remedies. National Seeds Corporation Limited is still ‘good law’. The Amendment does not interfere with jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum to decide Consumer-Disputes. However, if Arbitration is ‘opted’ for by the Aggrieved/X-Consumer, there is no ‘inhibition’ to ‘proceed’ with the possible Consumer-Dispute as an Arbitration-Dispute.
Booz Allen and Hamilton Inc., (2011) 5 SCC 532 referred to Non-Arbitrable Cases. Also, Vimal Kishor Shah, (2016) 8 SCC 788. The Amendment has not set Booz Allen at naught too. There is no such ‘legislative intendment’ or ‘contemplated consequence’.