Jan 17,2019 | 14 min read

Consumer Disputes Redressal Mechanism

Consumer Disputes Redressal Mechanism

When you have a grievance about any goods or services that you have availed then you can approach the consumer forum for redressal of your issue. The corporate entities need to know that any person or even government or non-government body personally or through a lawyer can file a consumer complaint in case of any dispute regarding goods or services availed from you.

E.g.- Calculation of interest on loans, defect in any food product or any other material purchased, lesser quantity than mentioned in the purchased product etc.

With the rise in grievances of consumers and more awareness about the rights of the consumers the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 came into force. Under the Act a quasi- judicial system was established.

We will try to get an insight into how this system works:

The Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum is a three tier system comprising of National Consumer Redressal Forum (NCRF), State commission and District forums. The jurisdiction of each consumer forum has been given in The Consumer Protection Act, 1986. An appeal from the decision of the district forum can be made to the state commission and an appeal against the order of the state commission can be made to the National Forum. There are timelines given for the appeal as there is in cases of any other nature.

In addition there is also timeline of 21 days to decide jurisdiction over a particular case.

The principle of Res judicata also applies on this body and hence the same case cannot be entertained in more than one forum or if there is a case pending before a civil court then the same case cannot be entertained by any consumer forum. Jurisdiction of the forum will be decided on the basis of pecuniary value of the claim and the place of business of the Respondent where the cause of action took place. On the issue of jurisdiction the Supreme Court has held that the interpretation of branch office (as given in the consumer protection Act) of the Respondent will deemed to be the branch where the cause of action took place and no other branch. For example, if the Respondent has an office all over India but if the cause of action arose in Rohtak then the claim/complaint can be filed in the consumer district forum of Rohtak. Regarding the subject matter jurisdiction the Apex court has ruled that the issues regarding Provident Fund can also be decided by the Consumer forums hence has considered employees as consumers.

Procedure of filing a complaint:

  1. The first step is to send a legal notice of the grievance to the Respondent.
  2. Any person can file the complaint on a plain paper after notarising the document.
  3. The complaint can also be filed through post addressed to the particular consumer redressal forum.
  4. The fee for filing complaint can be submitted only by a demand draft.
  5. Four copies of the complaint has to be filed and if there are more than one Respondent then one copy for each Respondent has to be filed.
  6. The complaint has to be filed within two years of the cause of action. If the consumer is not vigilant enough for more than two years then he/she is barred by the limitation law.

The fee for filing consumer complaints have been kept minimal as the consumer has already suffered loss and not to burden the consumer monetarily any further.

Benefits of redressal though consumer forum:

  1. The disputes are adjudicated faster under this system hence the case is not pending for years as in civil courts.
  2. Less cumbersome process: The process of filing the complaint is simple.
  3. The complainant can themselves file the complaint and there is no need to be represented by an advocate.
  4. The complaint can also be made through post.
  5. Low cost

The information given in this article is non-exhaustive and is for the purpose of knowledge.

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Kashu Shubhamoorty

• LLM in Commercial Law (University of Glasgow) with 11 years of experience in Legal Matters. Dealing with regulatory compliance laws, contracts, lease and license agreements, software license, telecom, hardware, etc., advising on risk mitigation in contracts. Mediation and negotiations in company and consumer disputes. Have worked with Accenture Services Pvt. Ltd. And Dell India Pvt. Ltd.