Consumer Law

How to File a Case in Consumer Court? | Consumer Law

A Consumer Court handles complaints and issues related to consumers. These legal proceedings are established by the Government of India to safeguard the rights of consumers. If you’re unhappy with a product or service, you can file a case in a consumer court against the seller for reasons like harassment or receiving faulty goods or services. Below, we provide a step-by-step guide on how to file a case in a Consumer Court in India.

What is a Consumer Court in India?

A Consumer Court in India is a special court established under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. Its primary purpose is to resolve disputes related to consumer issues. These courts operate at three levels: District, State, and National levels. The choice of which court to approach depends on the value of the dispute, which is determined by the law.

Consumers play a crucial role in the economy because they buy goods and services. Ideally, these goods and services should meet certain quality standards and should not have defects or deficiencies. Unfortunately, there are instances where consumers receive substandard goods or services that don’t meet their expectations. To address these problems and provide a way for consumers to seek justice, the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was enacted.

Who can file a complaint in a Consumer Court?

Anyone can file a complaint in a Consumer Court, but let’s clarify who exactly qualifies as a ‘consumer.’ A person is considered a consumer if they meet the following conditions:

  • They have purchased goods or used services by paying money.
  • They have bought the goods for personal use, not for resale or business purposes.
  • A voluntary consumer association, registered under the Companies Act, 1956, or any other applicable law.
  • The Central or State Government.
  • One or more consumers who share the same interest.
  • In the unfortunate event of a consumer’s passing, their legal heir or representative can file a complaint on their behalf.

When can a consumer file a complaint?

A consumer, their legal heir, representative, or a voluntary consumer association can file a complaint if any of the following conditions are met:

  • It hasn’t been more than 2 years since the issue that caused the complaint.
  • The person making the complaint must be mentally sound, financially stable, and of legal age.

Reasons for Filing a Complaint:

  • When a service provider uses unfair or restrictive trade practices.
  • When you receive or plan to buy defective products.
  • When you experience problems with a service you’ve hired or agreed to hire.
  • When you are charged more than the legal or advertised price for products or services.
  • When a seller offers hazardous products or services that can threaten your safety, especially if they could have known about the dangers with proper research.

What are the different agencies that help consumers when they have problems?

Once we’ve figured out the reasons for the issue, the next thing to do is to decide how much money is involved in the complaint. The Consumer Protection Act has a three-step process to handle complaints, based on how much money is at stake. People file their complaints in these forums based on the money limit set by the law.

  • District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF): There’s one of these forums in every district, and each one has three members. If the amount of money in question is up to 20 lakhs, you can appeal their decision to the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
  • State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC): Every state has one of these, and they can handle both new complaints and appeals. If the amount of money involved is between 20 lakhs and 1 crore, you can appeal their decision to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
  • National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): This is the highest level in the three-step system under the Consumer Protection Act. It’s located in New Delhi, and they deal with cases where the money involved is more than 1 crore. They can also hear appeals from the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. If you’re not happy with their decision, you can appeal to the Supreme Court.

How do you file a complaint in the Consumer Court?

Step 1: Notify the Service Provider
Start by sending a notice to the company or person who provided you with the goods or services. In this notice, explain that you intend to take legal action due to issues with the products or services, or any unfair practices. This notice is also a chance to resolve the complaint without going to court, for example, if the service provider is willing to offer compensation or another solution.

Step 2: Drafting the Consumer Complaint:
If the service provider refuses to offer compensation or any other solution, your next step is to formally complain under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. You don’t necessarily need a lawyer to do this; you can file the complaint yourself. In your complaint, you must include the following information:

  • Your name, description, and address.
  • The details of the opposite party or parties.
  • The reason for your complaint, including the approximate date, time, and location.
  • Key facts related to the cause of your complaint.
  • The remedy you’re seeking based on the facts of the case.
  • Your signature and verification, or that of your authorized representative.

Step 3: Attaching Relevant Documents:
It’s essential to include copies of supporting documents in your case at the Consumer Court. These documents should include:

  • Copies of bills, delivery receipts, and product packaging.
  • Warranty or guarantee certificates.
  • A copy of any written complaints or notices you sent to the manufacturer or seller.

Step 4: Choosing the Right Place to File Your Complaint:
When you’re ready to file your complaint, it’s important to pick the right place to do so. This means selecting a forum that matches the estimated value of the goods or services you bought and the compensation you’re seeking. In simpler terms, make sure you’re going to the right court based on how much money is involved.

Step 5: Paying the Necessary Court Fees:
Once you’ve chosen the right forum, you’ll need to pay a specific fee when you submit your complaint. The amount of this fee depends on the value of the goods you bought and the compensation you’re seeking. In other words, the more valuable your case, the higher the fee may be.

Step 6: Submitting an Affidavit:
If you’re planning to file a case in the Consumer Court, you’ll also have to submit an affidavit. This document is a sworn statement that confirms the facts and statements you’re making in your complaint are true, to the best of your knowledge. It’s an important step to ensure honesty and accuracy in your case.

How to Approach the District Forum

If you want to file a complaint with the District Forum, follow these steps:

  • Write your complaint on plain paper.
  • Get it notarized (verified by a notary public).
  • You can submit it in person or through an authorized agent.
  • Make four copies of your complaint, and make additional copies for each party involved.
  • If your case is valued up to 1 lakh, you don’t have to pay any court fee if you hold an Antyodaya Anna Yojana card. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay Rs. 100.
  • For cases valued up to 5 lakhs, the court fee is Rs. 200. For cases valued up to 10 lakhs, it’s Rs. 400, and for cases up to Rs. 20 lakhs, it’s Rs. 500.
  • Pay the court fee through a demand draft made out to the President of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in your district.

How to Approach the State Consumer Forum

If you need to approach the State Consumer Forum, follow these steps:

  • You can either file an original complaint that falls within the pecuniary jurisdiction limit set by the law or file an appeal within 30 days from the order of the District Forum.
  • For complaints valued between Rs 20 lakhs and Rs 50 lakhs, the court fee is Rs. 2,000. For complaints valued up to Rs. 1 crore, the court fee is Rs. 4,000.
  • Pay the court fees by obtaining a demand draft in favor of the Registrar of the State Commission, payable in that specific state only.

What kinds of help can you get under the Consumer Protection Act?

  • You can get your money back if you bought something and it’s not what you expected. You might also get some extra money to make up for any problems you faced and the costs of going to court.
  • If there’s something wrong with a product, the Consumer Forum can order the seller to fix it.
  • If possible, the seller might have to give you a new product instead of the faulty one.
  • If you suffered because of a product or service, they might have to pay you for any physical or mental harm.
  • Dangerous products can be banned from sale and removed from the market.
  • In cases of unfair or harmful business practices, the Consumer Forum can ban those practices and make them pay for any costs you had.

Is there a time limit for filing a case in the Consumer Court?

Yes, you usually have to file a complaint within two years of when you had a problem with a product or service. But if you had good reasons for waiting, the Consumer Court might still accept your complaint, as long as it makes sense.

Can I challenge a decision made by the Consumer Court?

Yes, you have the right to challenge a decision made by the Consumer Court if you are not satisfied with it. The law allows both the person who complained (complainant) and the person who was accused (defendant) to appeal against the Consumer Court’s decision. This is done to make sure that there is fairness and justice in the process.

Here is how the appeal process works:

  • District Forum
  • State Forum
  • National Forum
  • Supreme Court

So, the Consumer Protection Act is designed to protect consumers from unfair traders or sellers and to safeguard their basic rights. It offers protection, a way to resolve disputes, and sets up special forums specifically for consumer protection cases.

Remember, your consumer rights are essential, and there are mechanisms in place to protect you. By taking action and advocating for yourself, you contribute to a fairer marketplace and hold companies accountable for their actions.

Your voice matters, and together, we can make a difference. Don’t wait any longer—contact us at +91-8920599818 or visit our Contact page take action today and demand the resolution you deserve!