Salient features of the Consumer Protection Act
Who is a Consumer : - The Word CONSUMER is comprehensively defined in in Section1(d) of the Act. In fact, every citizen is a CONSUMER in his capacity as a buyer of goods, commodities or services (includes hiring of services) which have been paid or promised or partly paid & partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment.
But a person who purchases/ obtains services for re-sale or any commercial purpose (viz purchase of vehicle for using a Taxicab) is not considered as consumer under the Act.
Rights of a CONSUMER : As a consumer we enjoy certain rights such as:-
* Right to safety * Right to be informed * Right to choose
* Right to be heard * Right to seek Redressal * Right to consumer education
* Right to Basic needs * Right to healthy environment
Who can file a complaint:
# A Consumer
# Any Voluntary Consumer Organization registered under
the Societies Registration Act, 1860 or the Companies
Act, 1951 or any other Law for the time being in force;
# The Central Government.
# The State Govt. or UT Administration.
What constitutes a complaint:
# If you have suffered loss or damage as a result of any unfair/ restrictive trade practice adopted by the trader.
# If the goods purchased suffer from any defect.
# If the services hired/availed of suffer from deficiencies in any respect.
# If you have been charged a price in excess of the price displayed or fixed by or under any law in force.
# If the goods hazardous to life and safety, are being offered for sale to public in contravention of any law in force.
Relief available to consumers:
* Removal of defects from the goods.
* Replacement of the goods.
* Refund of the prepaid.
* Award of compensation for the loss or injury suffered.
* Removal of defects or deficiencies in the services.
* Award for adequate costs to parties.
Where to file the complaint : The Act provides a 3-tier quasi- judicial system for effective disposal of consumer disputes:-
* District Forum for each district,
* State Commission of every State and
* National Commission at national Level.
* Filing of Complaints depends upon the cost of the goods or services or the compensation asked.
Financial involvements in complaints and respective Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums :
* It is less than Rs. 20 lakhs — in District Forum.
* If more than Rs. 20 lakhs but less then Rs. 1 crore — before the State Commission.
* If more than Rs.1crore—before the National Commission
* No lawyer required for filling the complaint
* Nominal court fee.
Procedure for filing a complaint :
A complaint can be filed on a plain paper (in triplicate) to the concern consumer forum within 2(two) years from the date of action /injury or loss or grievance occurred. It should contain:
* The name description and address of the complainants and the opposite parties.
* The facts relating to complaint and when and where it arose.
* Documents in support of allegations in the complaint.
* The relief which the complainant is seeking.
* The complaint should be signed by the complainant or his authorized agent.
Manner in which a complaint to be made :
A complaint in relation to any goods or services sold or delivered or agreed to be delivered or provided may be filled with the forum by :-
a) the Consumer to whom such goods or such services are sold or delivered or provided;
b) any recognized consumer association (registered voluntary consumer association) whether the consumer to whom the goods/services sold or delivered or provided is a member of such association;
c) one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest, with the permission of the forum, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, all consumers so interested; or
d) the Central Govt. or the State Government, as the case may be, either in its individual capacity or as a representative of interests of consumers in general.
Every complaint shall be accompanied with prescribed amount of fees. Admissibility of a complaint would ordinarily be decided by a forum within 21(twenty one) days.
Time limit specified for disposal of complaints :
The Law provides for specified time frame for speedy disposal of complaints from Forum where initial complaints is lodged. Time schedule are as follows :
• 90 days where no laboratory test or investigation etc. are not necessary;
• 180 days where such test is required.
Every complaint should be accompanied by prescribed fees as indicated in the following table :
Sl. No. Financial Involvement & Compensation Claimed Amount of Fees to be paid
1. Upto 1(one) lakh rupees for consumer living below Poverty line NIL
2. Upto 1(one) lakh for consumer living above Poverty line Rs. 100/-
3. One lakh above but below 5(five) lakh rupees Rs. 200/-
4. Five lakh above but below Ruppes 10(Ten) lakhs Rs. 400/-
5. Rupees Ten lakh and above but below 20(twenty) lakh Rs. 500/-
Different Stages of Complaint Redressal
Stage—I : Lodging of Complaints to the appropriate Consumer Forum with requisite fees and detailing cause of action, nature & quantum of compensation/relief etc. along with all relevant documents viz. cash memo, receipt/ Purchase vouchers.
Stage—II : Admission hearing by the concerned Forum.
Stage—III : Issue of Notice to the Opposite Party against whom complaints is lodged ( if, complaint is admitted) , asking him/them to appear before the Forum and explain their version on stipulated date as may be fixed.
Stage—IV : Appearance of the Opposite Party for defending his/their action.
Stage—V : Evidence / Hearing ( Arguments) starts.
Stage—VI : Delivery of Judgment / final order.
Note : 1. No adjournment shall normally granted except for special consideration. If adjournment is granted, reasons to be recorded.
2. Punitive punishment is awarded on violation / non-compliance of an order passed by the Forum.
3. Appeal or Revision petition may be filed to the higher Forum against a order with deposit of 50% of claimed amount or Rs. 25,000/- whichever is less.