The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted to provide a simpler and quicker access to consumer grievances. The Act for the first time introduced the concept of ‘consumer’ and conferred express additional rights on him.
Before filing a complaint there are few essentials that are very important for the consumer. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 list out some of these that needs to be followed before filing a complaint which are as follows:
- First, you must be a consumer to file complaint.
Section 2(d) of the Act defines the ‘consumer’.
So according to a layman’s language, any individual who buys products or services for some consideration which can be fully or partly paid, for his personal use and not for manufacturing or resale is called a consumer.
Complaint is a statement made in writing to the National Commission, the State Commission or the District Forum by a person competent to file it, containing the allegations in detail, and with a view to obtain relief provided under the Act. This definition is included in Section 2(1) (c)
- Secondly, as per the Section 24A it is important that a consumer complaint can be filed within two years from the date on which cause of action arises.
- The third most important thing we also need to ensure one more thing before filing a complaint that the case falls within the jurisdiction of a particular District/ State commission.
- In order to support your complaint evidently a list of all the mentioned proofs, invoices, bills, documents etc.
After considering the above points the consumer can follow the steps stated below in order to file a complaint. Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act discusses the
STEP 1: PREPARING A COMPLAINT PETITION
The first step involved in filing a case in the Consumer Court is preparing a complaint petition. The petition carries all the details of the case. Below is a checklist outlining the finer aspects of preparing a complaint petition:
- The complaint has to be definite and precise. It shouldn’t include generalized statement
- Keep all facts, proofs, documents, receipts, cards etc. related to your complaint in proper order. You will be required to submit them at the time of hearing of the case
- Once the Complaint Petition is ready, it is essential to make 3 copies of the same along with photocopies of all the relevant proofs, supplemented with an affidavit
- Copies of the Complaint Petition and the proofs will also have to be served upon all the parties involved, besides the three copies being filed
- Above all, it must be ensured that the case falls within the jurisdiction of a particular District Forum/State Commission by checking if the opposite party resides or carried on business or has a branch office within the limits of the jurisdiction.
STEP 2: CHOOSING A CONSUMER COURT
There are three distinct levels of Consumer Courts that have been set-up to help you file your case
- The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum – (SECTION 11 OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986)
The consumer complaints/ cases in disputes that involved a consideration value up to Rs 20 Lakhs are accepted. In order to question the decision of the District Forum, an Appeal can be filed in the State Commission.
- The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission – (SECTION 17 OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986)
The Consumer Complaints/ cases in disputes that involved a consideration amount ranging between 20 Lakhs to 1 Crore are accepted. Through an Appeal the Decision of the State Commission can be questioned in the National Commission if the aggrieved party is not satisfied.
- The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission – (SECTION 21 OF THE CONSUMER PROTCTION ACT, 1986)
The Consumer complaints/cases in disputes involving consideration ranging beyond Rs 1 Crore are accepted. By filing an Appeal in the Supreme Court, the decision of the National commission if any of the parties is not satisfied can be questioned.
STEP 3: DEPOSITING THE STATUTORY FEE
The fees that is decided as per the Respective Forum to which the complaint is filed.
STEP 4: FILING FOR APPEALS AND REVISONS
Provisions have been made in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 to file Appeal/Revisions to higher level Commission(s) and to the Honourable Supreme Court of India, if one is not satisfied with the verdicts of the respective Court(s) below:
- State Commission- (SECTION 15 OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986)
For filing an Appeal in the State Commission a Statutory Deposit at the rate of 50% of the awarded amount, or Rs 25000/- whichever is less has to be deposited.
- National Commission - (SECTION 19 OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986)
Same goes for the Appeals that are to be filed to the National Commission, that is the Statutory Deposit of the 50% of the awarded amount or Rs 35000 whichever is less has to be deposited.
- Supreme Court -An appeal / revision can be filed as against the final order passed by National Commission in the Honourable Supreme Court of India. (SECTION 23 OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986)
STEP 5: An affidavit along with the complaints also needs to be filed to ensure that the facts stated are true and correct. According to the Act, it is not necessary for the Complainant to engage an Advocate; the complaint can be filed in person or by any authorized representative.
Consumer needs to be more aware of the malpractices followed by the trader and should stand up for their rights. The above article is an initiative and an endeavour to encourage and educate the consumers on the procedure to file a complaint against the unscrupulous traders. We need to be vigilant and more cautious against the quality and quantity of the goods supplied to us by the traders and only buy the goods after full inspection.
JAAGO GRAHAK JAAGO!!
This Article is written by- Bhavneet Singh Vohra