Decided on September 30,1994



S. Chakravarthy, Member - (1.) A complaint received from one Shri P. K. Bhasin, alleging that the respondent, Competent Automobiles Private Limited, New Delhi, has been indulging in certain restrictive trade practices of manipulation of conditions of delivery of Maruti cars, formed the basis of a direction by this Commission to investigate into the same by Director (Research). The Director (Research) submitted his preliminary investigation report.
(2.) In the said report, the Director (Research) has stated that Shri Bhasin, the complainant, had booked a Maruti car with the respondent-company on April 27, 1990, after making an initial deposit of Rs. 35,000 that the complainant received a letter on September 7, 1990, from the respondent bearing the date June 30, 1990, to the effect that the booking of the car had matured and that further payments should be made by August 30, 1990, that the complainant was informed when he contacted the respondent that as the last date for payment (August 30, 1990) had already passed, the priority for the car booking would be reckoned afresh effective from August 30, 1990, only, that the respondent blamed his courier for the delay caused in the intimation letter being delivered to the complainant and that during the period, the excise duty was increased by the Government which had imposed unjustified costs on the complainant. The complainant's main grievance is that the respondent did not deliver the Maruti car at the old price and that very unjustifiably he had to bear the extra excise duty. Blaming the courier does not absolve the respondent of his obligation and commitment to inform the complainant in time about the car booking having matured. The Director (Research) during the investigation came across two cases of customers for whom invoices had been issued even before the despatch of the intimation letters. These acts on the part of the respondent-company according to the Director (Research) constitute restrictive trade practices attracting Section 2(o)(ii) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969. Consequent on this report, a notice of enquiry was issued by this Commission on April 18, 1991. A copy of the preliminary investigation report was furnished to the respondent-company.
(3.) A detailed reply was filed by Competent Automobiles Private Limited with a copy to the Director-General of Investigation and Registration. Essentially, the respondent has contended that as a dealer of Maruti Udyog Limited, the manufacturer of Maruti cars, it was and is engaged in booking, delivery and service of Maruti vehicles. According to it, the procedure for informing the customers who make bookings with the respondent-company is through the Postal Department. However, it would appear that in or about July, 1990, it engaged the services of Swift International Worldwide Courier Service for local delivery of letters particularly the letters conveying intimations regarding booking maturity and further payments. The respondent-company started using the courier services, but the courier agency seems to have failed in its responsibilities with the result that letters sent to its customers by the respondent did not reach them. Many customers, however, according to the respondent, were in touch with the respondent, all of whom received the cars.;

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