The Apex Court while considering the recent case has reiterated that a government servant is not a ‘consumer’ for the purpose of Consumer Protection Act and cannot raise any dispute regarding his service conditions or for payment of gratuity or GPF or any of his retiral benefits before any of the forum under this Act. He further added that the appropriate forum for any of his grievance may be the State Administrative Tribunal, or the civil court but definitely not a forum under the Consumer Protection Act.
The Bench comprising of Justice Udai Umesh Lalit and Justice Indu Malhotra noted that this issue is settled in the case of Jagmittar Sain Bhagat v. Director, Health Services, Haryana (2013) 10 SCC 136. In the judgment herein mentioned, the court had held that a government servant cannot approach any of the forum under the Consumer Protection Act for any of the retiral benefits. The Court also noted that in another judgment it was held that the Consumer Protection Act was not intended to cover discharge of statutory function of examining whether a candidate was fit to be declared as having successfully completed a course by passing an examination.
Therefore, while allowing an appeal, the bench observed:
On the point of entitlement of a Government servant in respect of dues as stated and whether such Government servant can maintain any action under the provisions of the Act, the law is very well settled. In keeping the principles laid down by this Court in the case of Jagmittar Sain Bhagat, they hold that the complaint in the present case was not maintainable before the District Forum under the provisions of Consumer Protection Act.
Hence the crux of the present order is that the appropriate forum to address the grievance of the Government Servant is the State Administrative Tribunal or the civil court but certainly not a forum under Consumer Protection Act, to raise any dispute regarding his service conditions or for payment of gratuity or GPF or any of his retiral benefits.