Threat for pay huge amount SIM usage.
I would like to get a legal advise with regards to a threat I have received from Matrix sim cards company to pay an amount of Rs 50,000+ towards the usage of internet on a sim card I had purchased 1 year back when I had visited Bangkok. I believe this company is running some sort of scam on an all India basis and are duping several innocent customers like me and forcibly extorting large amounts of money in the name of internet usage and call charges. What legal action can I take against them?
Your complaint clearly falls under the category of disputes with telecom service providers.
Under the India Law, the matter has just been settled last year. In 2009, the Supreme Court had passed a judgment that effectively barred aggrieved consumers from approaching the ordinary civil courts or consumer forums and held that telephone related disputed would be settled by arbitration and the decision of the arbitrator would be final as given in Section 7B of the Telegraph Act, 1885. However, things have changed since then, with the Maharashtra Consumer Commission passing an order that telecom services are no longer only provided by the post and telegraph authorities, there are various private parties also involved. Arbitration under Telecom Act is merely with telegraph authority, private party arbitration is possible, but consumer forums are a faster justice delivery mode. Moreover, TRAI Act, 1997 specifically allows that a dispute between a service provider and his consumer is maintainable under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The National Consumer Commission has also upheld this.
Consumer Complaints in India can be initiated against any service provider for any deficiency in services. There are many more grounds for initiating a complaint under CPA, but this is where your case falls squarely. Since your claim amount is for less than Rs 20 Lakhs, the District Forum shall have the jurisdiction to entertain your case. Only condition is, the service provider, at the time of institution of the complaint, must actually and voluntarily reside or carry on business or have a branch office or personally work for gain within the local limits of that District Forum’s jurisdiction.
Now the question comes whether Matrix International was carrying on business or had at least a branch office within the local limits of the jurisdiction of any District Forum in India. It does have a head office in New Delhi, so you can initiate a complaint in the District Forum within New Delhi jurisdiction.
There are also other options available to you. This is the Online Complaint Registering portal by TRAI - http://www.tccms.gov.in/ Otherwise, there are, like you said, many similar consumers affected by Matrix Services, and they seem to be lodging a PIL – a collective action by an affected group – in the Supreme Court. You can try to find out and see if you want to join them, but the trend of consumer redressal cases being heard by the Supreme Court has not been very encouraging in the past few years.
 General Manager Telecom Vs M Krishnan AIR 2010 SC 90
 Reliance Communications Vs Adv Beena Menon dated 19.11.2014
Section 11(2) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 - A complaint shall be instituted in a District Forum within the local limits of whose jurisdiction,—
(a) the opposite party or each of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain,
Researcher: Shruthee Srinivasan
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