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FAQs on Consumer Protection Laws

What is the procedure to file a consumer complaint and what are the contents to be included in it?

A) A complaint has to be clear ,definite and precise. All the facts and documentation must be in order. The consumer will have to include:

(a) A cause-title.
(b) The complaint should, if possible have a heading
(c) The name, description and address of the complainant.
(d) The name, description and address of the opposite party or parties as the case may be.
(e) The facts relating to the complaint and when and where the cause of action arose.
(f) How the opposite parties are liable to be proceeded against and why are they answerable or accountable to this petition.
(g) Copies of documents in support of the allegations contained in the petition. Complainants are advised to keep copies of the complaint / petition and all furnished documents for their records. A list of documents should also be furnished along with the complaint, duly signed by the complainant.
(h) The complainant would also need to state how the case falls within the jurisdiction of the tribunal-whether the opposite party resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain within the jurisdiction of the forum or whether the cause of action (damaged goods or deficient service) arose within the Forum’s jurisdiction.

Where should a consumer file his/her complaint and how many Consumer Courts are there in India?

Pecuniary Jurisdiction

a) Incases where the value of goods and services involved is less than Rs. 20 Lakhs in value, the consumer will have to file the complaint in the District Forum constituted in the specified districts of a State.

b) In cases where the value of goods and services involved is more than Rs. 20 Lakhs in value but does not exceed Rs 1 crore the consumer will have to file the complaint with the State Commission constituted in the capital cities of the different states

c) In cases where the value of goods and services involved is more than 1 crore in value then the consumer can file a complaint with the National Commission which has been constituted only in New Delhi.

Territorial Jurisdiction.

i) The jurisdiction of the complaint is determined by the facts of the case and where the cause of action arises. Further, when a consumer files a complaint, the area in which the opposite party resides or carries on his work or business will also have to be taken into consideration by the consumer. Hence,if a consumer is filing a complaint against a service provider for a sum below 20 lakhs he/she would have to approach the District Forum in the jurisdiction where the cause of action arose. If the matter is above 20 lakhs but below 1 crore then it would be filed in the State Commission within which State the trader/ service provider/ manufacturer is located in the state in which the trader resides or works in. These two factors will have to be kept in mind while filing the complaint.

ii) Consumer Courts Consumer Forums

There are consumer forums at the District, State and National level. At present, there are around 569 District Consumer Forums, 33 State Commissions & the highest body which is the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) having its office at Janpath Bhawan, A Wing, 5th Floor, Janpath , New Delhi.

The District Forum consist of one president and two other members (one of whom is to be a woman).The president of the Forum is a person who is, or has been qualified to be a District Judge, and other members are persons of ability, integrity and standing, and have adequate knowledge or experience of, or have shown capacity in dealing with, problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration. They can hear the case involving amount of Rs. Twenty Lacs. It is situated in the District head quarters.

State Commissions

A State Commission has jurisdiction in whole of the State for which it is constituted. It can hear the cases involving the amount more than rupees twenty lacs and up to rupees one crore. It has also jurisdiction to hear appeal against the orders of District Forum of that particular State. It is situated in the capital of the State. State Commission consists of a president and two members one of whom is to be a woman.President is a person who is or has been a Judge of a High Court, and the members, are persons of ability, integrity and standing and have adequate knowledge or experience of, or have shown capacity in dealing with, problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration.

The National Commission

The National Commission consists of a president, and four other members (one of whom is to be a woman).The president should be the one who is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court, and the members should be the persons of ability, integrity and standing and have adequate knowledge or experience of, or have shown capacity in dealing with, problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration.

Who can file a consumer complaint and what are the issues to consider when filing a complaint?

A) Any person who can be termed as a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act,1986 can make a complaint. The following are the persons who can file a complaint under the Act :

i) a consumer; or
ii) any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or under any other law for the time being in force, or
iii) the Central Government or any State Government,
iv) one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest.