Jurisdiction of Consumer Forum in case of online Transactions

The question of territorial jurisdiction in internet transactions is a tricky issue.

This issue came up before the Meghalaya State Consumer Commission. The grievance related to sale of Air Tickets by Air Deccan through the internet.

The State Commission made a detailed analysis of various provisions and decisions; and by its order dt. 7 December 2013, held that the Complainant could file the Complaint at the place where he entered into the transactions. The following are the details of the case:

State Meghalaya  Appeal No.
  M.D.Air Deccan
  Shri Ram Gopal Agarwal
(Original Complainant)             Date of Order


The State Commission observed as follows:

” With the widespread access to personal computers and the internet, e commerce has been growing at a phenomenal pace. Many service providers and retailers taking advantage of this are offering their wares to the general public through their web sites, enabling their customers to do business/shopping from the comfort of their homes and offices. With the growth of e commerce and commercial activity over the internet, it has become possible for business to be conducted across the globe without actual physical presence in every place. Widespread usage of plastic money (Credit and Debit Cards) has facilitated these operations in a big way. But at times the consumer gets a raw deal as internet dealings are done with unknown parties, operating from far off places.

“Thus, the challenge faced by parties to an online transaction is which forum should be used to adjudicate conflicts. This is particularly an issue when a buyer seeks redressal in his local jurisdiction on the basis that the sellers goods or services are made available to consumers in all parts of the country through the Suppliers / Service providers web presence.

“We are also of the equally firm view that the learned District Forum at Shillong had territorial jurisdiction over the Complaint in question for the reasons afore stated and we therefore unhesitatingly uphold the impugned order passed by the Forum below.”

This is a very important decision. I am giving the link to the decision.

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