Procedure For Filing Complaint Under The Consumer Protection Act

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
WhatsApp

Index 

  1. Introduction 
  2. Consumer Dispute Resolution Authorities in India
  3. Filing A Consumer Complaint: Step-By-Step Guide
  4. Essential Information For Filing A Consumer Complaint
  5. Time Limit For Filing A Consumer Complaint And Additional Remedies
  6. Filing A Consumer Complaint Online: Step-By-Step Guide
  7. Types Of Relief Granted By Consumer Redressal Forums
  8. Sample Legal Notice Before Filing Consumer Complaint
  9. Procedure When Approaching A Legal Forum
  10. Conclusion

Introduction 

The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 which was replaced by the 2019 Act, carries significant implications. Firstly, it grants consumers the right to file complaints and receive swift resolutions. Secondly, it enables consumers to seek compensation for damages caused by a manufacturer’s or service provider’s negligence or inadequate service. Consumers can lodge complaints with District Forums, State Commissions, or the National Commission, all empowered by the Act to uphold and protect consumer rights. This article offers readers a simplified guide for approaching their local consumer protection authority regarding faulty products or services.

Consumer Dispute Resolution Authorities In India

In India, consumer dispute resolution is facilitated through District Forums, State Consumer Complaints Redressal Commissions, and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). District Forums are established at the district level, while State Commissions operate at the state level, and NCDRC functions as the highest authority at the national level from its headquarters in New Delhi.

  1. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum: For claims under Rs 20 lakh, complaints are registered here, with each district hosting its own forum presided over by a qualified individual, often a District Judge.
  2. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: Claims ranging from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore fall under the jurisdiction of this commission, chaired by a High Court Judge, comprising three members including a woman.
  3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Claims exceeding Rs 1 crore are addressed by the NCDRC in Delhi, headed by a Supreme Court Judge and consisting of five members, including one woman. Appeals can be made from district to state level and further to the National Commission if necessary.

Filing A Consumer Complaint: Step-By-Step Guide

The process of filing a consumer complaint is straightforward and can be done as follows:

  1. Prepare the Complaint: Write down all essential information on plain paper. The complaint can be notarized for authenticity.
  2. Notarize the Complaint: Get the complaint affidavit notarized by a notary public.
  3. Make Copies: Make the required number of photocopies of the notarized complaint.
  4. Prepare Bank Draft: Prepare a bank draft from a nationalised bank to pay the court charges.
  5. Submit Complaint and Payment: Submit the notarized complaint along with the bank draft to the consumer court’s reception clerk. They will provide you with an admission hearing date and a complaint reference number.

Optional Step: Before filing the complaint, consider sending a notice to the other party, specifying a time limit for resolving the dispute, although this is not mandatory.

  1. After the admission hearing, you will receive notification regarding the acceptance or rejection of your case. If accepted, you’ll be given a date for the next hearing.
  2. Subsequently, the court will send a notice to the opposing party along with a copy of your complaint, asking for a response within 30 days and inviting them to attend the hearing.
  3. The hearings will continue until a decision is reached.
  4. Once a decision is made, a copy of the court order will be sent to all parties via registered mail.
  5. Attendance at the proceedings is crucial. Failure to attend may result in the case being decided in your absence based on the merits.
Also Read  How To File A Case In Consumer Court

Essential Information For Filing A Consumer Complaint

To ensure a successful filing of your consumer complaint at the district, state, or national levels, include the following information:

  1. Cause-title: Provide a clear heading for your complaint if possible.
  2. Personal Information: Include your name, title, and mailing address.
  3. Opposing Party Details: Specify the name, description, and address of the opposing party/parties.
  4. Facts of the Complaint: Describe when and where the issue started.
  5. Liability of Opposing Parties: Explain why the opposing parties are accountable for the complaint.
  6. Supporting Documents: Include copies of documents that support your accusations.
  7. Jurisdiction Explanation: Clarify how the case falls under the jurisdiction of the forum.
  8. Reimbursement Request: Mention the amount you seek as reimbursement for complaint costs.

Time Limit For Filing A Consumer Complaint And Additional Remedies

It’s crucial to file your complaint within two years of the incident. After this period, complaints may be considered only if you can justify each day of delay adequately to the consumer forum/commission. For further assistance, contact the national consumer helpline at 1800-11-4000 or visit the National Consumer Helpline.

In addition to the remedies provided by the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, other statutes empower you to hold businesses and dealers accountable. For instance:

  1. Under the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards) Act of 2006, if you suffer from food poisoning due to a packaged product or restaurant meal, you can complain to the District Food Safety Officer.
  2. To address incorrect or misleading advertisements, you can approach the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body for the advertising sector.
  3.  The Banking Ombudsman Scheme is available for grievances related to banks.

While these organisations can hold the firm accountable, they may not provide direct relief as a customer. The choice between approaching these bodies or the consumer forum depends on the type of relief you seek.

Filing A Consumer Complaint Online: Step-By-Step Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide to filing a consumer complaint online:

  1. Visit the Website: Go to the Consumer Online Resource and Empowerment Centre website (core.nic.in), managed by the Consumer Coordination Council under the Indian government’s Department of Consumer Affairs.
  2. Register Yourself: Create an account on the website by filling in your name, email, address, and phone number. Generate a user ID and password.
  3. Lodge the Complaint: Use the online complaint system to select the registered trademark or service provider you wish to complain about from the dropdown menu of sectors, segments, and brands.
  4. Provide Details: Include the substance of your complaint, names, and contact information of involved parties, as well as specify the desired repercussions and redress.
  5. Track Complaint Status: Upon submission, you’ll receive an electronic number to track the progress of your complaint until it’s resolved.
Also Read  The Evolution And Implications Of The Land Acquisition Act In India

Types Of Relief Granted By Consumer Redressal Forums

Consumer redressal forums can issue orders for various types of relief based on the nature of the complaint and the facts presented. These reliefs may include:

  1. Rectification of product defects
  2. Product replacement
  3. Refund of purchase price
  4. Compensation for losses or injuries
  5. Correction of service defects or deficiencies
  6. Cease and desist orders for unfair trade practices
  7. Prohibition of sale of dangerous items
  8. Awarding suitable expenses to involved parties

Sample Legal Notice Before Filing Consumer Complaint

Date

Address of the Manufacturer

Subject: Notice Before Filing Consumer Complaint

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to bring to your attention the following details regarding the product/service I purchased from your company:

Details of the purchased product/service (cash memo number and date).

Information regarding the warranty or guarantee provided at the time of purchase.

Description of the deficiency in the product/service.

List of problems faced due to this deficiency.

Details of previous attempts to address the grievance, which were not responded to by your party.

I hereby give you a time limit of at least 15 to 30 days to resolve my grievance. I request either a full refund with suitable interest or replacement of the product/service along with appropriate compensation. Failure to do so will result in the filing of a consumer complaint in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.

Please note that if my concerns are not addressed within a reasonable timeframe, legal action will be taken, and I will seek compensation for the deficiency in services or defect in goods.

Yours sincerely,

Your Signature

Your Name

Your Address

Procedure When Approaching A Legal Forum

Determining the Correct Court for Filing a Consumer Complaint: There are two key factors in deciding which court to approach for filing a consumer complaint.

Firstly, consider the territorial jurisdiction, i.e., the place where the sale of goods occurred or where the service was rendered. However, this alone isn’t the sole criterion for selecting the court.

Secondly, factor in the cost of the product. If the price of the purchased goods is up to 20 lakhs, the District Consumer Forum is the appropriate court. For goods priced above 20 lakhs but below 1 crore, the State Consumer Forum should be approached. If the goods exceed one crore in value, the National Consumer Forum is the correct court. Both territorial jurisdiction and the cost of the product must be considered together to determine the appropriate court for filing the complaint.

Also Read  A Comprehensive Guide On Intellectual Property Rights

Drafting a Consumer Complaint: Key Points: It’s advisable to consult a lawyer when drafting a consumer complaint for effectiveness. Here are essential points to include in your draft complaint:

  1. Introduction: Briefly introduce yourself in 2-3 lines.
  2. Transaction Details: Provide specifics about the purchased goods, including the date of purchase, memo number, and other relevant details.
  3. Defect Description: Explain the defect in the goods or service being complained about. For instance, if it’s a service issue, mention the refusal to honour a valid warranty.
  4. Steps Taken for Rectification: Describe the actions taken to resolve the matter before approaching the court. This could include attempts to contact the manufacturer multiple times and communication of defects via phone calls and letters.
  5. Evidence: Mention supporting evidence such as memo receipts and eye witnesses that validate the purchase and defects.
  6. Jurisdiction Consideration: Seek legal advice to ensure the complaint is filed in a court with jurisdiction over the matter. Filing in an incorrect court can lead to rejection.
  7. Relief Claimed: Specify all desired compensation, such as a replacement product or reimbursement for expenses incurred during the legal process.
  8. Working with a lawyer can ensure that your complaint covers these key elements effectively.

The court fee for approaching the district forum varies based on the value of the matter:

  1. For matters up to 1 lakh rupees, the fee is INR 100.
  2. For matters between 1-5 lakh, the fee is INR 200.
  3. For matters between 5-10 lakh, the fee is INR 400.
  4. For matters between 10-20 lakh, the fee is INR 500.
  5. Matters exceeding 20 lakh are under the jurisdiction of the state commission:
  6. For matters between 20-50 lakh, the fee is INR 2000.
  7. For matters between 50 lakh- 1 crore, the fee is INR 4000.
  8. Matters exceeding 1 crore are handled by the National Consumer Forum with a court fee of INR 5000.

If representing oneself in court, consider the following points:

  1. Dress Code: Formal attire is suitable, rather than lawyer-specific attire.
  2. Copies of Complaint: Provide three sets of copies for District or State Forums, and four sets for the National Forum.
  3. Court Identification: The complainant will be referred to as Consumer Complaint (C.C.) during proceedings.
  4. Post-Proceedings: Litigants are entitled to receive a free certified copy of the court’s decision.

Conclusion 

The right to seek redressal is a fundamental consumer right, ensuring the ability to seek remedy in cases of unfair trade practices or consumer mistreatment. It also encompasses the right to a fair resolution of genuine consumer concerns. Consumers should not hesitate to file a complaint when they encounter legitimate issues, as even seemingly minor complaints can have a significant impact on society as a whole. Consumer organisations can provide valuable support in seeking redress for these problems. This article aims to simplify the process for consumers who discover defects in purchased products, helping them protect their rights effectively.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
WhatsApp

Never miss any important news. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Leave Your Comment

Recent News

Editor's Pick

Apni_Law_Logo_Black

Get Legal Assistance Today!

Fill out the form below to book a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.

We’ll get back to you promptly to assist with your legal needs.