Consumer Protection in India
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 aims to provide better protection of interest of consumers and enacts for the establishment of consumer councils and authorities for settlement of consumer disputes and matters that are connected therewith.
The Act extends to whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act applies to all goods and services and the central government may by notification expressly exclude applicability of the Act to goods or services by providing for the same in the notification.
The Act defines consumer in section 2 (d) as a person who buys goods or hires services for consideration or a price paid or promised to be paid but does not include a person who buys goods or hires services from the applicability of defines consumer as a person who has bought goods or hires services for commercial purposes. The supreme court of India has observed that a person who buys goods or hires services for any activity intended to generate profit commercial activity is outside the purview of the definition contained in consumer protection act.
Section 2 (b) defines complainant as a consumer, a voluntary consumer association formed under companies act, 1957, central or state government, one or more consumer having common interest or legal heir or representative in case death of consumer who files the complaint.
Section 2 (c) defines complaint as allegation in writing made by the complainant. This allegation may include:
- Unfair or restrictive trade practice that is quality of the good is below standard prescribed for the same.
- Goods bought suffer from defects and these may include spurious goods that are these goods are not genuine or are fake or imitated copies.
- Services that are hired or to be availed suffer from some deficiency.
- In case price charged for the goods are in excess to the price displayed on the cover or price fixed for the same by virtue of law in force or price agreed by the parties.
- In case the goods offered are in contravention to the prescribed safety standards or are risk to safety of consumer or the trader could have known after exercising due diligence that goods offered are unsafe.
A compliant can be filed by a consumer against manufacturer or a dealer of goods or service provider for any defective goods or deficiency of services provided or rendered by them to the consumer.
Original Complaint in Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum
The original complaint can be filed at Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum at district level of a state known at District Forum on the basis of territorial jurisdiction i.e. complaints can be filed in the district forum within whose limits either cause of action arose or complainant or opposite party resides or carries business.
The complainant on the basis of territorial jurisdiction can file compliant within 2 years from the date of cause of action when arose.
Original complaints where value of goods or services and compensation claimed is not exceeding Rs 20 lakhs can be filed in District Forums. The complaints exceeding this value can be filed in State Commission and National commission only on the basis of pecuniary jurisdiction i.e. value of goods or services and compensation claimed.
Section 12 defines the manner in which complaints are presented to Forums and section 13 provides the mechanism through which it is admitted in the District Forum. The complaint is required to contain allegation in respect of goods or services hired and contain details of events leading to cause of action accompanied by fees prescribed and copies of the same to be presented to the Forum and for opposite party. The complaint should clearly indicate name and address of the complainant and opposite party.
Complaints in the Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission
Each state of India is provided with a Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission Known as State Consumer Commission. A Complaint involving value of goods or services and damages claimed exceeding 20 lakhs rupees but not exceeding 1 crores rupees can be filed straight away in the State Commission on the basis of territorial jurisdiction.
The complaint should contain address of the complaint, details of complaint along with all supporting documents. Three copies of the complaint along with one copy for the opposite party can be filed on all working days i.e. Mondays to Fridays accompanied by fees as prescribed for the same. This prescribed fee for filing the complaint is in accordance to the compensation claimed and with respect to the state consumer protection act rules.
The complainant shall receive an acknowledgment that indicates date of filling of complaint indicating that the complaint has been filed within the prescribed period of limitation for filing the complaints.
Consumer Complaints in The National Commission
The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission of India is situated in New Delhi. In case the value of goods or services and compensation claimed exceeds 1 crores rupees then, Consumer Complaint by virtue of Section 21 a (1) can be filed in the National Commission. The consumer complaint can be filed with 2 years from the date of cause of action. The National Commission or National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission is situated at New Delhi.
The complaint is required to be signed by the complainant and should be filed in English language only or a translated copy of any other language can be filed. It should be accompanied by a notarised attested affidavit. It should be filed 1 + 3+ number of opposite party’s sets and must contain list of dates, address of parties, complaint and any other supporting document in the support of complaint.
In case the complaint is filed beyond the period of 2 years from date of cause of action then, application for con donation of delay in filing the application can be filed.
Appeals against orders of District forums can be brought to the State Commission and appeal against the orders of State Commission can be brought as revision petition to National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission or National Commission.
Any aggrieved person from the order of District commission may prefer appeal against this order within 30 days of the receipt of this order to State Commission under section 15 of the Act. This shall include memorandum of parties, order of District Forum appealed against and all document or enclosures enclosed in the District Forum.
First appeal against the decisions of State Commission lies in the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. A person who is aggrieved by the State Commission order may prefer appeal against this decision in the National commission within 30 days of receipt of the order on all working days.
This application should be filed in English language only or any translated copy of any other language along with the attested notarised affidavit. It should be accompanied by memo of parties, stay application, certified copy of state commission order, copy of the complaints and all documents including pleadings, evidence filed in State Commission along with the demand draft in favour of Registrar of NCDRC New Delhi as prescribed by Section 19.
Revision petition under section 21(b) can be filed with National Commission by the aggrieved party to call for records or pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending or has been decided by the State Commission and National Commission is of the opinion that there is material irregularity or state commission has exercised power which is not vested in it or exceeded the power vested in it or failed to exercise the power vested in it.
These are too be accompanied by all document including pleading filed in the district and State commission and should include memo parties, orders of State and District commission as the case may be and should be filed in 3 copies with one copy for the opposite party or one copy of each opposite party in case of more than one.
The complainant can file transfer applications in the National Commission under Section 22 B of the Act to the National Commission for transfer of any complaint from a District Forum to another District Forum or transfer any complaint from a State Commission to another State Commission. It should be accompanied by notarised affidavit and copy of complaint and any documents or appeal filed in district or state commission. It is also should be filed in English language or translated copy of any other language on all working days.
The National Commission on its own motion also may transfer compliant from one district forum to other or from one state commission to other.
Consumer Appeals in The Supreme Court
Appeal against orders of the national Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission can be filed in the Supreme Court of India under Section 23 of the Act.
Special Leave petition can be filed in the Supreme Court of India under Article 136 of the Constitution seeking special permission of the apex court to hear the matter against the decision or order passed by the national consumer dispute redressal Commission. The petition is required to be filed within 90 days of the date of order. The court can however in case of presence of sufficient causes can condone the delay and allow the petition. In case of Special leave petition if it is allowed then it is heard within 15 days of it admission.
Orders That Can Be Passed By District Forums, State Commission and National Commission
- Orders pass Removal of the defect pointed out.
- Replacement of the goods with new goods of good quality.
- Return the price paid by the complainant for the goods or services.
- Pay as a damage or a compensation for the loss or injury suffered on account of negligence of the opposite party in case the forum is authorised to award punitive damages.
- To remove the defects or deficiency in the goods or services
- To discontinue the unfair trade or restrictive practice.
- To not offer the hazardous goods and remove them from sale.
- To award adequate cost.
Experience of The Law Senate
The Firm has a strong experience in handling all types of Consumer Litigation including original Complaints, Revision Petitions and appeals in Delhi. Law Senate has handled various landmark cases in the National Commission Dispute Redressal Commission which is situated in New Delhi. The partners being qualified Advocates on Record have handled many Consumer Appeals in the Supreme Court of India. Law Senate has expert lawyer for consumer cases in state and national Dispute Redressal Commission