You should Know Step Before Filing A Consumer Case
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted to give you the power to put your grievances in front of the appropriate body and get quick and simple justice for any wrong done to you as a consumer.
So who is a consumer?
A person who buys or purchases products or services for some consideration which can be paid in part or full for his own personal use is called a consumer. The use of the product should not be for manufacturing or resale. Section 2(d) of the Consumer Protection Act defines the word consumer.
Whenever a consumer feels that he has been cheated by the seller while providing any product or service; or feels that unfair trade practices are being adopted by any trader; the product is defective or the service provided has a certain deficiency; the consumer can file a complaint to the appropriate forum to get relief.
The consumer has to submit a written statement, which is called a complaint, containing all the details in writing to either the District Forum or the State Commission or the National Commission as per the jurisdiction of the case.
It is not necessary for a consumer to hire a lawyer to file a case before the consumer forum. The petition can be filed by the affected consumer in person (by himself/herself) or by any authorized representative.
The things to be remembered while filing a consumer case in India are:
The consumer complaint has to be filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action arose.
The jurisdiction of the District Forum or the State Commission has to be specifically followed.
Every complaint has to be supported by proofs such as invoices, bills etc.
Steps to prepare a consumer complaint petition:
Before filing a case before any Consumer Forum you have to prepare complaint petition which shall include all the details of the case in writing. Points to remember while making the complaint petition are as follows:
The petition should be precise and to the point. It should not include unnecessary explanations and stories about various incidents.
All the facts, proofs, documents, receipts, complaint numbers, etc. related to the case should be kept in a proper order. It is important as they shall all be required while submitting the petition and also during the hearing of the case.
After the complaint petition is made copies of the same along with the proof will have to be served on all parties involved in the case. You will also need three separate copies of the filing of the case.
Provision for filing a complaint online:
Keeping in mind the convenience of the consumer, the government of India has made provisions for filing of complaints online through the online portal www.nationalconsumerhelpline.in.
The portal provides essential information to consumers and also provides immediate help through the national toll-free number 1800-11-4000.
The national consumer helpline comes under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and is operated by the Centre for Consumer Studies at the Indian Institute of Public Administration.
Understanding the Jurisdiction of the Consumer Courts:
As a consumer, you have to understand the jurisdiction of each of the forums so that your case is filed in the appropriate forum and you do not lose time and resources due to mistakes in filing.
The case has to be filed in the forum which is situated in the place of residence or business of the opposite party only.
There are three levels of consumer courts in India. With the lowest being the District Forum and the highest being the National Commission. The jurisdiction of each forum is decided as per the pecuniary jurisdiction or as per the highest amount involved in the case that the forum is authorized to hear.
Section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act lays down the jurisdiction of the District Forum for redressal of consumer disputes restricting it up to the value of Rs.20 lacks only. In the case of discontent with the decision of the District Forum, you will have to file an appeal to the State Commission.
Section 17 of the Consumer Protection Act lays down the jurisdiction of the State Commission for redressal of consumer disputes from the value of Rs.20 lacks to 1 crore.
Section 21 of the Consumer Protection Act lays down the jurisdiction of the National Commission for the redressal of consumer disputes. The National Commission is the highest body of appeal in consumer cases, beyond which any appeal shall have to be filed in the Supreme Court of India. The National Commission can be directly approached for any case whose value amounts to more than Rs. 1 crore.
Statutory Fee and Statutory Deposit:
The requisite Statutory Fee shall have to be deposited at the appropriate forum at the time of filing of the complaint petition.
As per Section 15 of the Act, for an appeal to the State Commission a statutory deposit amounting to 50% of the amount awarded or Rs. 25000/-, whichever is less, is required to be deposited with the court.
Section 19 of the Act lays down a similar provision for appeal to the National Commission. Here the amount of statutory deposit shall be 50% of the amount awarded or Rs. 35000/-, whichever is less.
Filing of Affidavit:
As in all other cases, an affidavit is required to be filed along with the complaint as an undertaking by the complainant that all the facts stated in the petition are true and correct.
The complainant can directly represent himself or herself before the forum after the petition has been filed.
Keeping up with the message of Jaago Grahak Jaago, it is the duty of each consumer to stand against any malpractice that a trader or service provider may undertake to dupe you. As an alert citizen, it is you who can help all those who do not know their rights.