The Advisory Boar (page 2)
Exide and I were to file
written arguments in today's hearing. I filed mine (which was all of two
pages long), but Exide sent someone to say that their lawyer was ill and
to ask for an extension. This request was rejected without fuss, and the
next hearing was set for oral arguments (after which only the judgement
It wouldn't surprise me if Exide tried to file arguments at the next
hearing (just as they filed their evidence late), but if so, I will
object to their tardiness and repeated failure to comply with court
I wrote about my Consumer Court hearing on
2011-04-18, at which I
filed my response to Exide. The next hearing was on 2011-05-19, but I
forgot to mention it here. Exide was supposed to file their evidence,
but they did not do so, and thus lost their opportunity to do so. The
next hearing was set for today, for "arguments".
I asked a lawyer friend, who said it probably meant oral arguments; so I
prepared accordingly. But, after sitting through forty-odd cases, I was
asked to submit written arguments. But someone from Exide (the affable
but largely clueless chap who has appeared before) was there, trying to
file the evidence they failed to at the last hearing. I was asked if I
had any objections, and said no. The evidence was duly accepted. Not
surprisingly, it's just a rehash of their earlier response, and says
Now I have a month to prepare a written argument.
At my last hearing, where
I filed my evidence and collected Exide's response, I was asked to file
a response on the 2nd of March. As it happened, that was a holiday, and
the court was closed. I called up the office the next morning, and was
eventually told to appear on 18th April instead.
I showed up today, and found myself #1 on the cause list. When I was
called up, a lawyer from Exide (not the guy who wrote the response, but
someone on his behalf) appeared as well. I filed my response and gave
him a copy. The next hearing is a month later. Exide will file their
evidence and give me a copy.
I wonder how many more two-minute appearances are in store.
I was #20 in a very long cause list at the District Consumer Forum this
morning. In my
previous appearance, I was asked
to file evidence ex parte because no opposing parties appeared in
court despite repeated announcements.
Digression: filing evidence
It took me a while to understand how to file evidence. I asked in the
office at the Consumer Forum, but was told only to go to Karkardooma
District Court, where "someone would help me". I went and stopped the
first lawyer I saw (black coat, white shirt), and he was kind enough to
look over my complaint and tell me exactly what I needed to do: compose
an affidavit that restates my complaint as a deposition, and have it
attested by an Oath Commissioner (and not just a Notary Public).
I found several Oath Commissioners sitting in a hallway, and one of them
pointed me to a "computer guy" who would print out my affidavit for him
to attest. I had my complaint on a USB stick, and it took only half an
hour or so (after the many lawyers ahead of me had finished their work)
to cut-and-paste the details of my complaint into a previous filing. I
paid INR100 to the computer guy (INR15/page for not-quite-7 pages), and
INR10 to the Oath Commissioner.
I then prepared three complete sets of the affidavit with all the
evidence (which were "annexures" in the original complaint, but turned
into "exhibits" at this stage).
When I was called to appear today, someone from Exide was present. As I
had suspected might happen, it turns out that Exide's counsel did appear
in court the last time, after I had already left. They filed a response
to my complaint, of which I received a copy only today.
The response begins:
The instant Complaint is a gross abuse of the process of law and has
been filed by the alleged Complainant with the sole purpose of
harassing and pressurizing the Answering Respondent to submit to its
unreasonable and mischievous demands. The instant Complaint is based on
false, frivolous and baseless facts solely to suit the illegal designs
of the alleged Complainant.
It continues on for a long time in the same vein, alleging repeatedly
that I have "unclean hands", and making "vehement" and "categorical"
denials of everything in my complaint (including a couple of facts of
I have been asked to file a rejoinder at the beginning of March.
I shall think about how to proceed.
Today we attended a demonstration at Jantar Mantar to protest against
the conviction of
Dr. Binayak Sen
by the Raipur Sessions court on trumped-up charges of sedition. Despite
a complete lack of evidence and clear signs of police misconduct in his
arrest, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The verdict brings into
sharp focus the sorry state of the government in Chhatisgarh.
One of the signs at the protest: "Kangaroo court in a Banana republic"
Today was my fourth appearance before the District Consumer Forum. I
expected Exide to respond to my complaint, since they sent someone to
collect a copy a month ago,
but they weren't there. The judge (the lady who had initially accepted
my filing) said she would hear my evidence ex parte at the next
hearing in early January. If it's compelling enough, I guess a default
judgement will be issued in my favour, and Exide will proceed to ignore
that as well.
I usually read a book while waiting for my case to be called, but
watching the proceedings can be quite entertaining. Some lawyers argue
at length for the reduction of symbolic fines, with no success. Others
come prepared to rant and rave about injustice to their clients, but
stutter and stumble when questioned about the facts of the case. One
case was attended only by two people from the same opposing party.
Every once in a while, people are reprimanded for talking in the
And while the case drags on, the UPS batteries are now completely dead,
and we have been forced to order three (slightly cheaper) 42AH batteries
to replace them.
After my farcical
last appearance before the
District Consumer Forum, I wasn't expecting much from today's hearing.
To my surprise, however, someone from Exide (an ordinary bloke, not a
lawyer) was present today. The (lone) presiding Forum member asked for
our names, noted our appearance in the file, gave the Exide guy a copy
of the complaint (it turns out that the notification sent by the DCF is
only a summons to collect a copy of the complaint), and told us to come
back a month later. I didn't need to do anything at all.
I'll have to wait until the end of November (at least) to find out how
Exide will respond to my complaint. At this rate, I will need to buy new
batteries long before the court decides whether Exide should replace the
old ones or not.
I was scheduled to appear before the
District Consumer Forum
today, and was curious to see what defence Exide would mount, if any.
When my case was announced, I went up to the bench and identified
myself. It turned out that the opposing parties (Exide, and the dealer I
bought the batteries from) had not even been notified about the case!
Their copies of the paperwork were still sitting in the file.
Blah. Next appearance: end of October.
with trying to have a faulty Exide battery replaced under warranty,
Hassath and I didn't want to let the matter slide, and decided to
approach the consumer court.
Under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, a number of quasi-judicial
bodies empowered to deal with consumer grievances have been set up at
the district and state level, under an apex body in Delhi called the
National Consumer Dispute Redressal
Commission; in this case, the East Delhi District Consumer Forum
was the most appropriate forum for our complaint.
We spoke to someone at the DCF on the phone, and were told to bring two
copies of our petition to them the next day. We spent a couple of hours
preparing the petition (following an example on the NCDRC web site) and
assembling a paper trail to establish our case (warranty cards, reports
of the inspection, email correspondence). We stopped by the Post Office
to get a blank Postal Order for INR 100 (the filing fee), and submitted
all of this documentation to the (very pleasant) officer at the DCF the
He asked us to pick a date for the initial filing, and we decided on the
tenth of August—which happened to be when the warranty of our batteries
expired. We were told to appear in court at 10:30 on that morning, for
the case to be brought before the Forum and admitted (or thrown out).
We went to court this morning, waited around for a while, and were quite
surprised to hear my name called first (the invoice for the purchase of
the batteries was in my name, so it was my name on the petition). Two of
the Forum's three judges in attendance, and they were handling cases in
parallel. I was called by the (stern-looking, but very kind) lady judge,
and asked to explain the case. She listened to me, reviewed the petition
briefly, and told me to add the battery vendor as an opposing party in
the case (our petition named only Exide). Fortunately, I had a complete
extra set of all the documentation with me, and she allowed me to just
scribble an extra name and address on all three copies.
In the end, she assigned a date one month later, and ordered notices to
be sent to the two opposing parties. Now we have to turn up in court on
the new date, and we'll see what Exide does by way of opposition.
What are the regulations governing the use of cryptography and the
development of cryptographic software in India? The answer is either
"there aren't any" or "nobody really knows".
One of the few official documents to discuss the subject is
("Guidelines and general information for setting up of international
gateways for internet") published by the Department of
Telecommunications (DoT) in 2001. It is not clear why an informative
document inviting proposals from ISPs to set up international gateways
should have anything to say about the use of cryptography in general, or
whether this amounts to a rule, but here's the relevant section:
II. LEVEL OF ENCRYPTION
Individuals/Groups/Organisations are permitted to use encryption
upto 40 bit key length in the RSA algorithms or its equivalent in
other algorithms without having to obtain permission. However, if
encryption equipments higher than this limit are to be deployed,
individuals/groups/organisations shall do so with the permission
of the Telecom Authority and deposit the decryption key, split
into two parts, with the Telecom Authority.
There has been plenty of criticism of this section as being "too weak",
but the real problem is that it's stupid and wrong (as I have
explained in email one too many times; hence this post).