How to File a Consumer Complaint in India

By | February 24, 2018

Introduction

Consumer protection movement started many years ago is a part of the global movement that consumers are a weak party in buying goods and services as compared to the manufacturers and traders producing and selling them. For a market where companies and traders compete to sell goods and services to the consumer’s interest should be served better but more often we see that the consumers are exploited by the adoption of some unfair and illegal trade practices. To fight for the interest of the consumer in India ‘The Consumer Protection Act, 1986’ was enacted.

Any person may be a consumer of goods or services. When you purchase some goods, say a cycle, scooter, car, fan, shoes or gas stove you may be a consumer of goods. When you open a bank account, take an insurance policy, get your car repaired, you could be the consumer of services. The Consumer Protection Act provides redress to a consumer when the “good purchased are defective” or “the services provided are subject to some deficiency”.

C.P. Act, 1986 is a special enactment, creates an additional remedy in favor of the consumers to raise consumer disputes before the for a constituted under the act.  The remedy under the Act, 1986 is not in derogation of the other remedies available to the party. Therefore, the consumer cannot be denied such right on the ground of availability of an alternative remedy such as Arbitration Act. The CPA seeks to protect the interests of individual consumers by prescribing specific remedies to make good the loss or damage caused to consumers because of unfair trade practices.

The Consumer Protection Act envisages the establishment of the following

  1. Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum to be known as “District Forum.”
  2. Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, viz., “The State Commission” and
  3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, viz, ” The National Commission.

 Who is a consumer?

A Consumer is a person who purchases a product or avails a service for a consideration, either for his personal use or to earn his livelihood by means of self-employment. The consideration may be:

  • Paid
  • Promised
  • Partly paid and partly promised.

It also includes a beneficiary of such goods/services when such use is made with the approval of such person. A person is not a consumer if he/she:

  • purchases any goods or avails any service free of charge;
  • purchases a good or hires a service for the commercial purpose;
  • avails any service under the contract of service.

 Who is not a Consumer?

A person is not a consumer if he/she

  • purchases any goods or avails any service free of cost;
  • purchases a good or hires a service for the commercial purpose;
  • avails any service under the contract of service.

Who can file a complaint?

  • Any consumer;
  • Any voluntary consumer association;
  • Central Government or any State Government;
  • One or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having same interest;
  • In case of death of a consumer, his legal representative or their heir.

Requirement for filing a consumer complaint

  • A complaint may be made in writing under the following circumstances:
  • Loss or damage is caused to the consumer due to unfair or restrictive trade practice of a trade or service provider;
    The article purchased by a consumer is defective;
  • The services availed of by a consumer suffer from any deficiency;
  • A trader or service provider, as the case may be, has charged for the goods or for the service mentioned in the complaint a price in excess of the stipulated price;
  • Goods or services, which will be hazardous to life and safety, when used, are being offered for sale to the public.

Where to file the complaints?

Under the consumer protection act, there are three tier Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies. These are:

  1. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in the District;
  2. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at the state level;
  3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at the national level.

Jurisdiction of Consumer Forums and National Commission

  • District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in the District

Each District has a District Forum. It entertains complaints where the value of a claim is up to 20 Lakhs. District Forum consists of three members. Out of the three, one is President, who is or has been or is qualified to be a District Judge. One of the members shall be a woman.

  • State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at the state level

Each State has only one state Commission. Complaints can be filed in State Commission where the value of the claim is above 20 Lakhs up to One Crore.  It consists of a President, who is or has been a Judge of a High Court and two other members, one of whom shall be a woman.  Appeals against the Orders of the District Forums can also be filed in the State Commission.

  • National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at the national level.

There’s only one National Commission in our country which is located in New Delhi. Complaints about the value of claim exceeding rupees One Crore can be filed in the National Commission.  It consists of a President who is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court and not less than four other members, one of whom shall be a woman.

It takes appeals against Orders passed by the State Commissions.  The Orders of this Commission can only be challenged in the Supreme Court.

Additional Requirement to be taken care of:

  1. Fee for filing Complaint: Every complaint filed shall be accompanied by a fee in the form of crossed Demand Draft drawn on a nationalized bank or through a crossed Indian Postal Order drawn in favor of the Registrar of the State Commission and payable at the respective place where the State Commission or the National Commission is situated.

District Forum

(1) Up to one lakh rupees – For complainants who are Below Poverty Line holding Antyodaya Anna Yojana Cards —– Nil

(2) Up to one lakh rupees – For complainants other than Antyodaya Anna Yojana card holders. —– Rs. 100.

(3) Above one lakh and up to five lakh rupees —– Rs. 200.

(4) Above five lakhs and up to ten lakh rupees —– Rs. 400.

(5) Above ten lakhs and up to twenty lakh rupees —–  Rs. 500.

State Commission

(6) Above twenty lakhs and up to fifty lakh rupees —–  Rs. 2000.

(7) Above fifty lakhs and up to one crore rupees —–  Rs. 4000.

National Commission

(8) Above one crore rupees —– Rs. 5000.

  1. How to file a Complaint?
  • The complaint can be filed on a plain paper.
  • Stamp paper is not required for declaration.
  • It should contain the details of the complainant and the opposite party.
  • The complaint can be registered, in person, by the complainant or through his authorized agent or by post addressed to the Redressal Agency.
  • It is not compulsory to engage a lawyer to file a case.
  • The fees charged are very nominal according to the value of the claim.
  1. Provision for appeal
  • Aggrieved by the Order issued by the District Forum, appeal petition may be filed before the State Commission within 30 days from the date of receipt of Order.
  • Aggrieved by the Order issued by the State Commission, appeal petition may be filed before the National Commission within 30 days from the date of receipt of Order.
  • Aggrieved by the Order issued by the National Commission, appeal petition may be filed before the Supreme Court of India within 30 days from the date of receipt of Orders.

Conclusion

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 aims at helping a consumer in getting quicker redressal of his complaints through specially established for a, instead of filing a suit in a civil court. No court fee is required to be paid for filing a complaint. One need not engage a lawyer for the purpose, and the consumer for a can evolve summary procedure in disposing of the complaints.

In a civil case, the plaintiff has to pay the substantial court fee, engage a lawyer and wait for a tremendously long time before he can hope for some relief. But after the enactment of

The Consumer Protection Act, it provides redress to a consumer through a specially set up set of courts, which need not engage a lawyer and could expect much quicker relief. No court fee had to be paid for filing a complaint, but the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002 every complaint must be accompanied by such amount of court fee as may be prescribed.


– Subham Saurabh

Content Writer @ Legal Bites


References

  1. Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
  2. Law of Torts, Dr. R.K Bangia, Allahabad Law Agency.
  3. Law of Torts, Ratanlal, and Dhirajlal, Lexis Nexis.
  4. Subho Mukher, Consumer Protection in India: Needs and Methods, http://www.economicsdiscussion.net/india/consumer-protection/consumer-protection-in-india-needs-and-methods/11055.
  5. Vinay Vaish, India: The Consumer Protection Law In India http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/624830/Consumer+Trading+Unfair+Trading/The+Consumer+Protection+Law+In+India.

Related Links

1) Call for Papers: International Journal on Consumer Law and Practice (Volume VI): Submit by May 31, 2018

2) INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE @ STATE CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION, UT CHANDIGARH

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