In our day to day life, we consume various goods and services. There are many issues being faced by the consumer these days regarding the quality of goods and services, quantity of goods and excessive prices charged for them. To safeguard the Consumers from being exploited, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 came into force. This ensures justice to the Consumer by offering an easy and effectiveprocedureto follow.When the Consumer is exploited in any manner which has been mentioned as “Unfair trade practice” in Section 2(1)(r) of this Act in terms of both, goods and services, he has the right to file Complaint (Section 2(1)(c)) in the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum.

Before we move on to the process of filing the Consumer Complaint, it is essential to know about some of the basic information related to it.

Persons who can file the Consumer Complaint:In the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, all who can file Complaint are mentioned in the term Complainant. ‘Complainant’as defined under Section 2(1)(b) refers to:

(i) aconsumer; or

(ii) any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956) or under any other law for the time being in force; or

(iii) the Central Government or any State Government; or

(iv) one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest;

(v) in case of death of a consumer, his legal heir or representative;] who or which makes a complaint;

The best part of filing a Consumer Complaint is that the Consumer himself can file the Complaint. He is not required to hire a Lawyer for Legal Services. Even your relative can appear on your behalf.

Limitation of filing the Complaint (as per Section 24A): The District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission shall not admit a complaint unless it is filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen.

The Complainant has to satisfy the agencies for entertaining the Complaint, that he had sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within such period.

Below mentioned are the step by step guide for filling a Consumer Complaint

 STEP 1: IDENTIFYING THE CONSUMER FORUM FOR FILING THE COMPLAINT

According to Section 9 of this Act, the Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies shall be established namely- The District Forum, the State Commission, and the National Commission.

While identifying where to file the Complaint we will have to know the Territorial Jurisdiction as well as the Pecuniary Jurisdiction of District Forum(Sec.11), State Commission(Sec.17) and National Commission (Sec.21).

Territorial Jurisdiction:A complaint shall be instituted in a District Forum or State Commission or National Commission within the local limits of whose jurisdiction—

  1. a) The opposite party resides or caries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, or
  2. b) If there are more than one opposite party, then any one of the opposite parties resides, or carries on business or has a branch office, or personally works for gain,

Provided that in such case the permission of either District Forum, State Commission or National Commission as the case may be, or the opposite parties who do not reside in such place or carry on business or have a branch office or personally works for gain as the case may be, must be obtained, or

  1. c) the cause of action arose.

Pecuniary Jurisdiction: It is the monetary jurisdiction in terms of the Value of goods or services and the compensation if any, is claimed.

1.District Forum: UptoRs. 20 Lacs

2.State Commission: Between Rs.20 Lacs to 1 Crore

3.National Commission: Above 1 Crore.

 STEP 2: DRAFTING THE COMPLAINT TO BE PRESENTED IN THE FORUM

The following guidelines will help you in drafting an effective Complaint.

  1. Get the Complaint Typed: Though one can present hand-written complaint but in order to make things clear for everyone involved getting it typed is a better option. Keep in mind the spaces and margins to be left in the document.
  2. Frame a Heading for the Complaint.
  3. It should comprise of the details of the Complainant as well as the Respondent(s) like Name, Address and other necessary details if any.
  4. State the reason for the case falling within the jurisdiction of the forum (mention the Territorial and Pecuniary Jurisdiction)
  5. Stating the Grievance: The facts involved must be stated in a chronological order and also the use of simple language is a must. This shall be helpful in communicating the grievance to the officer as well as the respondent.
  6. Mention clearly what the issue is and what is the relief you are seeking from the complaint.State the Compensation (amount) to be claimed against the respondent in the Complaint. A consumer can also ask for thedamages, refunds, interest amount and litigation costs. Add the details of why the respondent is accountable for this.
  7. Enclose the copies of supporting documents: The supporting documents can be the bills, warranty or guarantee proofs, letter or notice sent to the respondent regarding the grievance and relief demanded etc. which will be helpful in stressing your point. Ensure that the notice sent to the Respondents reaches them and they have got sufficient time to respond. Enclose all such proofs with the complaint and keep a copy of the complaint and documents submitted for your reference as well.
  8. All the Papers should be arranged in order as per their reference. Also, number the pages to avoid confusion later.
  9. Prepare an Affidavit stating that the contents of the complaint and the supporting documents are true to your knowledge.

 STEP 3: SUBMISSION OF COURT FEES

The below-mentioned amount is to be deposited at the time of filing the Complaint. Refer the following table to find out the amount payable as per the Value of Goods and Compensation. Also, make a note of the mode of Payment and to be drawn in favour of whom, as mentioned below.

DISTRICT FORUM

VALUE OF GOODS AND COMPENSATION AMOUNT PAYABLE
Less than Rs. 1 lac Rs. 100
Rs. 1 lac and above, but less than Rs. 5 lacs Rs. 200
Rs. 5lacs and above, but less than Rs. 10 lacs Rs. 400
Rs. 10 lacs and above Rs. 500

The payment should be through a Nationalized Bank Demand Draft duly crossed, drawn in favour of “President, Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, (district name)”.

STATE COMMISSION

VALUE OF GOODS AND COMPENSATION AMOUNT PAYABLE
Rs. 20 lacs and above, but less than Rs. 50 lacs Rs. 2000
Rs. 50 lacs and above, but less than Rs. 1 crore Rs. 4000

The payment should be through a Nationalized Bank Demand Draft duly crossed, drawn in favour of “Registrar, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, ___________ State”.

 NATIONAL COMMISSION

VALUE OF GOODS AND COMPENSATION AMOUNT PAYABLE
Above Rs. 1 crore Rs. 5000

The payment should be through a Nationalized Bank Demand Draft duly crossed, drawn in favour of “Registrar, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission”.

Refer to this link for the Format of Consumer Complaint-

http://www.icrpc.org/icrpc.org.complaintformat.htm

As soon as we file the Complaint keeping the above steps in mind, the Forum will initiate its process towards ensuring justice.