Author: Mashira Khan, Mumbai University Thane sub-campus
In recent times, transactions of goods and services have become very common. It starts from the seller and ends at the buyer or consumer. A consumer can be either a person, group of persons, company etc. In India, laws for consumers were introduced under consumer protection act, 1986. Recently the act was changed as The consumer protection act,2019 effective from 20th july, 2020. Under this act, a consumer is defined as:
“A consumer is who buys and uses the goods and services with the permission of the person who purchases the goods or services.” (“1”)
The purpose of the act was to protect the consumers from malpractices committed by sellers, create informed consumers, increase transparency in the transactions and make people aware of their rights and remedial options available. It assures, wherever possible, access to an authority of goods at competitive prices,and to assure that consumers interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums and seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.
Rights of Consumer.
Under sec 2(9) of the act (“2”) rights of consumer are stated which are as follows:
(i) Right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products or services which are hazardous to life and property
(ii) Right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods, products or services
(iii) Right to be assured and have access to a variety of goods, products or services at competitive prices
(iv) Right to be heard and to be assured that consumer's interests will receive due consideration and receive adequate compensation for their
(v) Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
(vi) Right to consumer awareness and education.
Filing of a consumer law case.
An aggrieved person can address his grievances on NCH(National commission helpline) through UMANG or NCH application or via call or message on the toll free number available on consumer helpline website. For proper legal assistance, a formal complaint can be drafted by a law practitioner in appropriate forums.The registered complaint is only valid if the consumer has legal competency and any of the grounds listed in the act (“2”) are satisfied in his case. A notice must be sent to the opposite party i.e. the goods or service provider before filing of complaint as it gives an opportunity to settle the matter without approaching the Forum if the Opposite Party is willing to offer compensation or any other remedy.However if the opposite party isn't cooperative, a complaint is to be registered and the following steps are to be followed:
STEP 1: Filing of consumer complaint.
The complaint can be filed by the aggrieved person or legal practitioner on behalf of the person. The following details must be specified in the complaint:
Name, description and the address of the complainant(s) and the Opposite Party or parties.
Cause of Action, the approximate date, time and venue.
Relevant facts relating to the cause of action. (“3”)
The Relief or Remedy claimed by the complainant in accordance with the facts of the case.
Signature and Verification by the complainant or his authorized agent.
STEP 2: Attach relevant documents.
Copies of material evidence and relevant documents like bill copy, receipt of delivery or payment, a record of online booking, photos and videos of the damaged product etc must be attached.
A copy of the written complaint and notice sent to the service provider or seller must also be attached
STEP 3: Select Appropriate Forum.
Appropriate forum for filing the complaint in accordance with the pecuniary jurisdiction. According to the damages availed and compensation required proper forum must be selected. There are 3 different levels of consumer forums which are as follows:
1.District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum
It is the lowest and most approachable forum available within every district. Complaints having compensation value ranging from 0-20 lakh are addressed in these forums.
2.State Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum
It is the second level forum available within a state. Here the complaint can be either original, if it falls under the pecuniary jurisdiction or an appeal can be filed from the order of the District Forum within 30 days of the order being passed. Complaints having compensation value ranging from 20 lakh- 1 crore are addressed in these forums.
3. National Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum.
It is the highest consumer forum which addresses grievances at a national level. Here the Consumer can either file a complaint directly, if it is within the pecuniary jurisdiction or file an appeal from the order of State Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum
within 30 days of the passing of the order. Complaints having compensation value ranging from 1 crore and above are addressed in these forums. Appeal against the order National Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum can be addressed at supreme court
STEP 4: Pay Court Fees
A prescribed fee is required to be paid along with the complaint filed depending on the forum and value of compensation.
STEP 5: Submit an Affidavit
The person who wants to file a case in the Consumer Court is also required to submit an affidavit in the court which contains true facts and knowledge of the consumer.
As a consumer we must know our rights , be aware of them and have knowledge of the proper procedure to be followed to get remedy. Through e- filing of complaints it is easy and efficient to file a complaint against the seller. Various amendments and introduction of easy and effective methods have made Consumer law an important aspect of the modern legislature.