Annals of Community Health (ISSN 2347-5455, eISSN 2347-5714), Peer Reviewed, Indexed Journal focusing exclusively on Community Medicine and Public Health

Consumer Protection Act

  •  The Consumer Protection Bill, 1986 applies to the whole of India except the Jammu and Kashmir.
  • After including the amendments made vide the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002 the provisions of the Act are being brought into force w.e.f. 15.3.2003.
  • The main objective of the act is to provide for the better protection of consumers.
  • The provisions of this Act are compensatory in nature.
  • The act is intended to provide simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal to the consumers' grievances, and relief of a specific nature and award of compensation wherever appropriate to the consumer.

"Complainant" means-

a consumer; orany voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 under any other law for the time being in force; orthe Central Government or any State Government, one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest;in case of death of a consumer, his legal heir or representative; who or which makes a complaint;

"complaint" means any allegation in writing made by a complainant that- an unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice has been adopted by any trader or service provider;the goods bought by him or agreed to be bought by him; suffer from one or more defects;the services hired or availed of or agreed to be hired or availed of by him suffer from deficiency in any respect;

  • a trader or service provider, as the case may be, has charged for the goods or for the service mentioned in the complaint a price in excess of the price
  • goods/services which will be hazardous to life and safety when used or being offered for sale/use to the public

"Consumer " means any person who-

buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment when such use is made with the approval of such person, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose; orhires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who 'hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first mentioned person but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial purposes;

"Consumer dispute" means -

a dispute where the person against whom a complaint has been made, denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint.

"defect" means

any fault, imperfection or shortcoming in the quality, quantity, potency, purity or standard which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force under any contract, express or implied or as is claimed by the trader in any manner whatsoever in relation to any goods;

"deficiency" means

any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service;

The Central Consumer Protection Council

  • Members,
    • - the Minister in charge of the Consumer affairs -Chairman,
    • - Such number of other official or non-official members representing such interests as may be prescribed.
  • Objects of the Central Council,
    • to promote and protect the rights of the consumers such as,-
    • - the right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;
    • - the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;
    • - the right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices;
    • - the right to be heard and to be assured that consumer's interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;
    • - the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
    • - the right to consumer education.

The State Consumer Protection Councils

  • Minister in charge of consumer affairs- Chairman;

The District Consumer Protection Council

  • Chairman - DC and

Structure

  • To provide simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal of consumer grievances, the Act envisages a three- tier quasi-judicial machinery at the National, State and District levels.
  • "National Commission".
  • "State Commission".
  • "District Forum".
  • The provisions of this Act are in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.

District Forum

  • Composition- a person who is, or has been, or is qualified to be a District Judge, who shall be its President;
  • two other members, one woman, who shall have the following qualifications, namely:-
    • be not less than 35 years of age,
    • Possess a bachelor's degree from a recognized university,
  • Manner in which complaint shall be made
    • A complaint in relation to any goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or any service provided or agreed to be provided may be filed with a District Forum by -
      • the consumer
      • any recognized consumer association
      • one or more consumers, or
  • Procedure on admission of complaint - The District Forum shall, on admission of a complaint, if it relates to any goods/services, refer a copy of the admitted complaint, within 21 days - to opposite party mentioned in the complaint directing him to give his version of the case within a period of 30 days or such extended period not exceeding 15 days as may be granted by the District Forum;
  • Finding of the District Forum: If, after the proceeding conducted the District Forum is satisfied, it shall issue an order to the opposite party directing him to do one or more of the following things, namely:-
    1. to remove the defect pointed out by the appropriate laboratory;
    2. to replace the goods with new goods;
    3. to return to the complainant the price, or, as the case may be, the charges paid by the complainant;
    4. to pay such amount as may be awarded by it as compensation to the consumer for any loss or injury suffered by the consumer due to the negligence of the opposite party.
    5. Provided that the District Forum shall have the power to grant punitive damages in such circumstances as it deems fit;;
    6. to remove the defects in goods or deficiencies in the services in question
    7. not to offer the hazardous goods for sale;
    8. to withdraw the hazardous goods from being offered for sale;
    9. Appeal - Any person aggrieved by an order made by the District Forum - appeal - to the State Commission within a period of 30 days.

State Commission

  • Composition of the State Commission- same as districts
  • Jurisdiction of the State Commission
    • the State Commission shall have jurisdiction-
    • to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds 20 lakhs- one crore; and appeals against the orders of any District Forum within the State; andto call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any District Forum within the State, where it appears to the State Commission that such District Forum has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested or has acted in exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.
  • Appeals
    • Any person aggrieved by an order made by the State Commission may prefer an appeal - National Commission within a period 30 days.
    • Hearing of Appeal - An appeal filed before the State Commission or the National Commission shall be heard as expeditiously as possible and an endeavour shall be made to finally dispose of the appeal within a period of 90 days from the date of its admission.

National Commission

  • Composition: Judge of the Supreme Court rest same as districts
  • Jurisdiction of the National Commission
    • to entertain- complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees one crore; and
    • appeals against the orders of any State Commission; and
    • to call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any State Commission where it appears to the National Commission that such State Commission has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested, or has acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.
  • Appeal - Any person, aggrieved by an order made by the National Commission - appeal- order of the Supreme Court in 30 days.
  • Dismissal of frivolous or vexatious complaints - Where a complaint instituted before the District Forum, the State Commission or as the case may be, the National Commission, is found to be frivolous or vexatious, it shall, for reasons to be recorded in writing, dismiss the complaint and make an order that the complainant shall pay to the opposite party such cost, not exceeding ten thousand rupees, as may be specified in the order.

Penalties (Sec. 27)

  • Wherea trader or a person against whom a complaint is made or the complainant fails or omits to comply with any order made by the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, such trader or person or complainant shall be punishable with imprisonment for 1 month to 3 years, or with fine which shall not be <2000-10,000.

Appeal against order passed under section 27

  • Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, an appeal under section 27, both on facts and on law, shall lie from -
  • the order made by the District Forum to the State Commission ;
  • the order made by the State Commission to the National Commission; and

General procedure of consumer complaint

  1. Prepare the consumer complaint in the required format
  2. Get the complaint affidavit notarized through a notary.
  3. Make required number of photocopies after notarizing.
  4. Prepare a bank draft from a nationalized bank to pay court fee.
  5. Submit the complaint and court fee to the receiving clerk in the consumer court who will give you the date for admission hearing and complaint reference number.
  6. On admission hearing, you would be informed whether your case is fit for acceptance or not. If accepted, you will be given the date for next hearing.
  7. The court will send a notice with your complaint copy to the opposite party seeking reply within 30 days, and asking him to attend the hearing.
  8. The hearings will continue till the matter is decided.
  9. The courts final order will be sent to all the parties by registered post.

Please note: It is important to attend the hearings, else the matter may be decided ex-party on the merits of the case.

Relief available to the consumer

  1. removal of defects from the goods.
  2. replacement of the goods.
  3. refund of the price paid.
  4. award of compensation for the loss or injury suffered.
  5. removal of defects or deficiencies in the services.
  6. discontinuance of unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or direction not to repeat them.
  7. withdrawal of the hazardous goods from being offered to sale; or
  8. award for adequate costs to parties.

Limitation - time limit to file complaint: mplaint: The complaint should be filed within 2 years from the date of cause of action.

Appeals

  • to be filed within 30 days from the date of receipt of the court's order.
    1. Appeal against the decision of a District Forum - before the State Commission within - thirty days.
    2. Appeal against the decision of a State Commission - National Commission within thirty days.
    3. Appeal against the orders of the National Commission - Supreme Court within a period of thirty days.
    4. There is no fee for filing appeal before the State Commission or the National Commission.
    5. Procedure for filing the appeal is the same as that of complaint, except the application should be accompanied by the orders of the District/State Commission as the case may be and grounds for filing the appeal should be specified

Consumer Court Fee

DISTRICT FORUM (w.e.f. 10-2-2005)

  • Value Of Goods And Compensation                                       Amount Payable
    • Less than Rs. 1 lakh                                                      Rs. 100
    • Rs. One lakh and above, but less than Rs. 5 lakh.           Rs. 200
    • Rs. 5 lakh and above, but less than Rs. 10 lakh.             Rs. 400
    • Rs. 10 lakh and above                                                   Rs. 500

STATECOMMISSION (w.e.f.10-2-2005)

  • Value Of Goods And Compensation                                       Amount Payable
    • Rs. 20 lakh and above, but less than Rs. 50 lakh            Rs. 2000
    • Rs. 50 lakh and above, but less than Rs. 1 crore            Rs. 4000

NATIONAL COMMISSION (w.e.f. 10-2-2005)

  • Above Rs. 1 crore                                                           Rs. 5000


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