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SECTOR: LEGAL

Overview:

There has been a change in the dynamics of consumer-seller relationship. With the advent of Information technology and E-Commerce the consumer has become more vulnerable. Mass production and import, luring advertisements and endless cross selling has left the consumer in a hapless position. In such a scenario, we at NCH strive to make you more aware of your rights and help you address the legal issues that arise.

Most of the legal cases referred to NCH deal with Consumer Protection Act 1986. The Act defines a consumer and then it lays down what is a complaint. It provides a list of grievances which fall within its ambit. Further it lays down a three tier quasi judicial redressal system, set up all over India. It consists of the District forums, the State commissions and the National Commission.

A consumer can approach a forum if two conditions are fulfilled. The first condition is that the claim will be filed in the area where the opposite party resides or, works for gain or, has an office or a branch office. It can also be filed where the cause of action arises. The second condition is that the amount of the claim must be within the monetary limit of the forum.

In E-commerce cases the place of filing a complaint is the place where the contract is concluded.

It is a combination of the amount of claim and the location that decides the forum where the complaint can be filed.

There is a limit on the amount of claim that can be entertained by each forum:

District Forum: Upto 20 Lacs

State Commission: From 20 Lacs to 1 Crore

National Commission: 1 Crore and above.

The act provides that the complainant can file and represent his own complaint. It is not necessary to hire an advocate. However, there is a limitation period of 2 years within which one can file a complaint. The forum may entertain a complaint even after 2 years if the complainant satisfies the forum that he had sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within such period.

The forum shall endeavour to decide the dispute within a period of three months from the date of receipt of notice by opposite party. But if there is laboratory testing involved then it shall be decided within 5 months.

The act also lays down that an adjournment shall not ordinarily be granted unless sufficient cause is shown and the reasons for granting adjournment have been recorded in writing by the forum.

Any person aggrieved by the decision of district forum can appeal to State Commission. If he is not satisfied with order of State Commission he can appeal to National Commission. A final appeal lies to Supreme Court of India. The appeal has to be filed within 30 days from the date of the order.

For the format of complaint and notice before complaint click here.

To know more about case filing procedure click here

For more information click here : http://www.consumereducation.in/

MODEL FORM-1: NOTICE BEFORE FILING THE COMPLAINT

MODEL FORM-2: THE COMPLAINT

Filing of a Consumer Complaint before the Consumer Fora

Who is a Consumer?

Consumer is a person who buys any goods or services for money or any other form of consideration; it may be paid or promised to be paid. It includes persons who have bought any goods or services under any instalment scheme.

A person who has not himself purchased the goods but who uses the goods with the approval of the buyer is also a consumer.

Who is not a Consumer?

A person who buys any goods or services for free is not a consumer.

A person who buys any goods or services for resale or for commercial purpose is not a consumer. But if a person uses any goods or services for earning his livelihood then it will not come within the ambit of “commercial purpose”.

Before formally filing a Consumer Complaint, Consumer should give notice to the opposite party of the fact of any deficiency in service or of unfair trade practice etc to see if the trader is willing to make good the loss suffered by either replacing the commodity or returning the value of the purchase. If yes, the issue resolves then and there. But if the trader refuses or neglects here that the consumers needs to approach the Consumer Court.

There is no need to engage the services of any Advocate and one can file one’s own complaint and can also appear and argue one’s own case before the Consumer Fora. The consumer protection Act has provided a very simple procedure to file the complaint that even a layman who is not from the law background, can file the complaint of his own.

There is no requirement of any court fee to be paid at the time of filing any complaint in the Act up to a certain limit. A Complaint needs to be filed naming the opposite parties clearly along with their correct Addresses to ensure timely delivery of notices sent by the Court. The Claim in the complaint must be supported by copies of the documents as Annexures and in the prayer the complainant may submit the relief claimed along with the compensation and litigation expenses, if any.

Three sets of the entire documents including the complaint plus the complete sets for the opposite party/parties need to be submitted at the time of filing and one set has to remain with the complainant for his reference. The Act provides for limitation period of two years from the date of cause of action. In case there is delay in filing the complaint, the delay needs to be explained, which can be condoned by the Tribunal. An affidavit along with the complaint needs to be filed stating that the facts as brought out in the complaint are true and correct. The said complaint will be taken up by the Consumer Court within 21 working days of the filing of the complaint.

However, the complaint before the Consumer Fora, needs to be made with due care since under Section 26 of the Consumer Protection Act,1986 it has been laid down that where a complaint instituted are found to be frivolous or vexatious, it shall, for reasons to be recorded in writing, be dismissed and the complainant can be fined for an amount not exceeding ten thousand rupees, or as may be specified in the order.