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Consumer Protection

CONSUMER PROTECTION IN INDIA

In a recent legislative move, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was replaced by the new Consumer Protection Act, 2019 which came into force on July 20, 2020. The main objective of the new Act is to protect the interests of consumers and for the said purpose, to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Important Highlights of the new Consumer Protection Act, 2019

Broadened Definition of “Consumer”

The new Act has broadened the definition of “consumer” to include persons engaging in offline or online transactions through electronic means or by tele-shopping or direct selling or multi-level marketing. By this new definition, consumers can seek remedy against multi-level marketing whereby sellers at each level of multi-level marketing can be held liable under the new enactment, including social media influencers or endorsers. However, persons who are provided with free services are not considered as a consumer despite such service being free is question or fact and will have to be evaluated on case to case basis.

E-Commerce

The new enactment has extended its scope to e-commerce business recognizing and, the Central Government has the authority to take measures for the purpose of preventing unfair trade practices in e-commerce.

Product Liability

The new enactment has a separate chapter for the same and has a new ground for complaint filing which has been one of the most significant additions to the act. Aggrieved consumers can now claim significant compensation as a relief against manufacturers or service providers.

Central Consumer Protection Authority

The new enactment has established Central Consumer Protection Authority (“CCPA”) which is a regulatory authority empowered to impose penalties, recall goods, cause withdrawal of service, provide refunds and investigate into matters.

False or Misleading Advertisement

CCPA has the power to take action against false or misleading advertisements by imposing penalty of upto Rupees 10 Lakhs and/or imprisonment of upto 5 years on a manufacturer or endorser for such advertisement. Furthermore, for every subsequent offence, the period of prohibition may extend to three years.

Change in Pecuniary Jurisdiction

With the new enactment, pecuniary jurisdiction of Consumer Court in India has also been raised in all three commissions which are reflected below.

  • District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum: The jurisdiction of the District Forum has been enhanced to Rs. 1 cr.
  • State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The State Jurisdiction shall be able to entertain Complaints whose value is minimum Rs. 1 cr but does not exceed 10 cr.
  • National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The National Commission, , shall be able to entertain Complaints valued above Rs. 10 cr.

Mediation

By the new enactment, consumer disputes redressal now be done by way of mediation,if acceptable by both the parties.

Changes to territorial jurisdiction and e-filing of Complaints 

The new enactment gives consumers the option to file complaints with the jurisdictional consumer forum located at the consumer’s place of residence or work. This is aimed to provide procedural ease and reduce inconvenience and harassment for the consumers.

Related Posts

Consumer Protection Act, 2019 comes into force

Consumer Protection FAQs

Court Fees / Official Fees for Consumer Case In India:

The court fees for filing a consumer complaint in India is given below:

  • District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum
    • If the total value of goods and services claimed is upto 1 Lakh rupees – for complainants who are under the below poverty line holding Antyodaya Anna Yojna Cards no court fee is required to be paid
    • If the total value of goods and services claimed is upto 1 lakh rupees – for complainants other than Antyodaya Anna Yojna Card holders the applicable court fee is INR 100
    • If the total value of goods and services claimed is above 1 lakh- upto 5 lakh rupees the applicable court fee is INR 200
    • If the total value of goods and services claimed is above 5 lakh- upto 10 lakh rupees the applicable court fee is INR 400
    • If the total value of goods and services claimed is above 10 lakh- upto 20 lakh rupees the applicable court fee is INR 500
  • State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
    • If the total value of goods and services claimed is above 20 lakh- upto 50 lakh rupees the applicable court fee is INR 2000
    • If the total value of goods and services claimed is above 50 lakh- upto 1 Crore rupees the applicable court fee is INR 4000
  • National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
    • If the total value of goods and services claimed is above 1 Crore rupees the applicable court fee is INR 5000

Time Period Within which the Consumer Dispute should be disposed of

Every Complaint shall be heard as expeditiously as possible and endeavor shall be made to decide the Complaint within a period of 3 months from the date of receipt of notice by Opposite Party where the Complaint does not require analysis or testing of commodities and within 5 months if it requires analysis of testing the commodities, provided that no adjournment shall be ordinarily granted by the District Forum unless sufficient cause is shown and the reason for grant of adjournment have been recorded.

In case of Appeal, the same shall also be disposed of within a period of 3 months from the date of its admission.

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To know more about Consumer Laws in India, click on the link below:

Consumer Protection

As per the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 for consumer complaint in India, the following can file a complaint:

  1. A consumer, or in case of more than one consumer, one or more consumers may file complaint.
  2. Any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or any other law, for the time being enforced.
  3. The Central Government.
  4. Any State Government.
  5. A legal heir or representative of a deceased consumer.

The Consumer Complaint may be filed in the following forums:

  1. Consumer Courts at district level – District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF).
  2. Consumer Courts at state level – State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC)
  3. Consumer Courts at national level or National Consumer Forum Complaint– National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).

Appeal against the decision of the National Commission can be filed in the Supreme Court.

Grounds for Filing a Consumer ComplaintIndia

A Consumer Complaint may be filed on the following grounds:

  • Deficiency of services
  • Unfair trade practices
  • Manufacturing defect in the product
  • Medical negligence

As per Section 24 A of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 a Complaint must be filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action/deficiency in service/defect in goods arises. However, a Complaint may also be filed after two years, if the Complainant is able to satisfy the Forum, the State Commission, or the National Commission that he/she has sufficient reasons for not filing the Complaint within such period.

Consumer Forum Complaint Procedure

Procedure for Filing a Consumer Complaint in the Appropriate Consumer Forum in India

The Complaint can be registered, in person, by the Complainant or through his authorized agent or by post addressed to the Redressal Agency. A Complaint when made in the Consumer Forum Complaint i.e. District Forum or State Commission shall be filed in three sets and where it is filed in the National Commission, it shall be filed in four sets with additional sets equal to the number of opposite part(s). Every Complaint shall clearly contain particulars of dispute and the relief claimed and shall also be accompanied by copies of such documents as are necessary to prove the claim made in the Complaint.

Filing Consumer Complaint Online- India

The Consumer Coordination Council along with the Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India runs the consumer online resource and empowerment centre in order to solve consumer complaints and grievances. It is the formal and official grievance redressal system prevalent in India. The helpline, consumerhelpline.gov.in, has been launched by the Department of Consumer Affairs to create awareness, advise and redress consumer grievances and act as a central registry for lodging consumer grievances.

Thus, order to ease the process of consumer complaint redressal, the Government has introduced the facility of filing consumer complaint online. A consumer aggrieved with the goods and services or deficiency in services can lodge consumer complaint online for online complaints at the National Consumer Helpline, which can be accessed at https://consumerhelpline.gov.in/.

Process for Online Complaint against Company

Process for Online Complaint against Company

For more information on filing of consumer complaint, consumer complaint online, Consumer Forum Online Complaint, please write to us at info@ssrana.com or submit a query.

To know more about Consumer Laws in India, click on the link below:

Consumer Protection

Court Fee for a Consumer Complaint in India

“Consumer” meaning in India

As per Section 2 (d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, a “consumer” means any person who –

  1. 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; or
  2. [hires 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 purpose).

In India the Consumer Complaint may be filed before the special purpose courts explained below.

Structure of Consumer Courts in India

CONSUMER COURTS

With an aim to deal with cases pertaining to grievances and disputes, these special purpose courts were established in India.

DISTRICT CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL FORUM (DCDRF)

It works at the district level with cases having pecuniary value of upto Rupees twenty lakh.

STATE CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION (SCDRC)

It works at the state level with cases having pecuniary value upto Rupees one crore.

It has Appellate jurisdiction over the District Forum.

NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION (NCDRC)

It is the Apex body that works for the whole country with cases having pecuniary value above Rupees one crore. Additionally, it is the highest Appellate Court in the hierarchy.

Pecuniary Jurisdiction of the Consumer Forums in India

The Pecuniary Jurisdiction of the Consumer Forums is as follows:

  1. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum: Subject to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1999, the District Forum shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed does not exceed Rs. 20 Lac.
  2. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The State Commission has the jurisdiction to entertain the Complaints where the value of goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds Rs. 20 Lac but does not exceed Rs. 1 crore.
  3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The jurisdiction of National Commission extends to Complaints where the value of goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds Rs. 1 cr.

However, as per the Proposed Amendments to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the pecuniary jurisdiction is proposed to be revised which is as follows:

  1. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum: The jurisdiction of the District Forum is proposed to increase from Rs. 20 Lac to Rs. 1 cr.
  2. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: As per the proposed amendment, the State Jurisdiction shall be able to entertain Complaints whose value is minimum Rs. 1 cr but does not exceed 10 cr.
  3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The National Commission, under the proposed amendment, shall be able to entertain Complaints valued above Rs. 10 cr.

For more information on the subject matter please write to us at info@ssrana.com or submit a query.

To know more about Consumer Laws in India, click on the link below:

Consumer Protection

Constitution of Bench in the Consumer Forums in India

The constitution of Bench in the three levels Consumer Forums is as Follows:

  • District Forum called District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum:The District Forum consists of 3 members, wherein one member is the President who is or has been or is qualified to be a District Judge. One of the member shall be a woman.
  • State Forum called State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The State Forum also consists of 3 members, one of whom is the President, who is or has been a judge of a High Court. One of the member shall be a woman.
  • National Commission called National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The National Commission consists of a President, who is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court, and not less than 4 members and not more than such number of members as may be prescribed.
  • One of the member shall be a woman.

Pecuniary Jurisdiction of the Consumer Forums in India

The Pecuniary Jurisdiction of the Consumer Forums is as follows:

  1. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum: Subject to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1999, the District Forum shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed does not exceed Rs. 20 Lac.
  2. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The State Commission has the jurisdiction to entertain the Complaints where the value of goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds Rs. 20 Lac but does not exceed Rs. 1 crore.
  3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The jurisdiction of National Commission extends to Complaints where the value of goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds Rs. 1 cr.

However, as per the Proposed Amendments to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the pecuniary jurisdiction is proposed to be revised which is as follows:

  1. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum: The jurisdiction of the District Forum is proposed to increase from Rs. 20 Lac to Rs. 1 cr.
  2. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: As per the proposed amendment, the State Jurisdiction shall be able to entertain Complaints whose value is minimum Rs. 1 cr but does not exceed 10 cr.
  3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The National Commission, under the proposed amendment, shall be able to entertain Complaints valued above Rs. 10 cr.

Powers of Consumer Forums in India

The District Consumer Forum has the same powers as vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 while trying a suit, in the following matters namely:-

  1. Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any defendant or witness and examining the witness on oath.
  2. The discovery and production of any document or other material object producible as evidence.
  3. The reception of evidence on affidavits
  4. The requisitioning of the report of the concerned analysis or test from the appropriate laboratory or from any other relevant source.
  5. Issuing of any commission for the examination of any witness and
  6. Any other matter which may be prescribed

The State and National commission, in addition to the abovementioned powers, have the power to review the decisions of the District Forum as District Forum does not have the power to review its own order.

For more information on the subject matter please write to us at info@ssrana.com or submit a query.

To know more about Consumer Laws in India, click on the link below:

Consumer Protection

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