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The nature and scope of remedies are to provide simple, speedy, and inexpensive redressal of the grievances of the

consumers. With this end in view, three-tier quasi-judicial machinery has been provided under the Act at the National, State and District levels. At the national level, there is a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, which is known as the National Commission. Likewise, at the State level, there is to be similar Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions, which is known as the State Commission. Similarly, at the district level, there are to be District Forums, as the redressal forums. The State Government may, if it deems fit, establish more than one District Forums in a district.

Who May File a Complaint?


(a)The Consumer- That is: (i) A person who purchases any goods for consideration, which has been paid or partly paid, or which has been promised to be paid or partly paid, or which has been purchased under any system of deferred payment (i.e. pertaining to hirepurchase transactions). The term consumer includes any other user of such goods, when such use is made with the consent (approval) of the purchaser. But then, the term, consumer does not include such person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose. Moreover, the term commercial purpose does not include use of the goods by a consumer of goods purchased and used by him, and the services availed of by him, exclusively for the purpose of earning his living, by way of self-employment.

Who May File a Complaint?


(a)The Consumer- That is:

Contd

(ii) A person who hires or avails of any services for consideration, which has been paid or partly paid, or which has been promised to be paid or partly paid, or which has been purchased under any system of deferred payment. (iii)The term consumer includes any other beneficiary of such services, when such use is made with the consent (approval) of the original purchaser. But then, the term, consumer does not include such person who avails of such services for any commercial purpose.

Who May File a Complaint?

Contd

(b) Any recognised consumer association. Further, it is not necessary for the complainant to be a member of such association. (c) One or more consumers, in the cases where there are several consumers having the same interest, with the permission of the District Forum, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, all the consumers so interested. (d) The Central or the State Government, as the case may be, either in its individual (personal) capacity, or as a representative of the interest of he consumers, in general.

A Complaint May pertain to One or More of the Following: (a)An unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice has been resorted to (adopted) by any trader or service provider (b)The goods purchased by him, or agreed to be purchased by him, suffer from one or more defects (c)The services hired or availed of, or agreed to be hired or availed of, by him suffer from deficiency in any respect

A Complaint May pertain to One or More of the Following: Contd (d) A trader or a service provider has charged for the goods or for the services mentioned in the complaint, a price, in excess of the price: (i) Fixed by or under any law for the time being in force (ii) Displayed on the goods or on any package containing such goods (iii) Displayed on the price list, exhibited by him, by or under any law for the time being in force (iv)Agreed between the parties

A Complaint May pertain to One or More of the Following: Contd (e)Goods, which will be hazardous to life and safety, when consumed (used), are being offered for sale to the public: (i) In contravention of any standards regarding the safety of such goods, as required to be complied with by or under any law for the time being in force (ii) If the trader could have known with due diligence that the goods so offered by him are unsafe to be used by the public

A Complaint May pertain to One or More of the Following: Contd (f) Services, which are hazardous, or are likely to be hazardous, to the life and safety of the public, when used, are being offered by the service provider, which such person could have known with due diligence to be injurious to the life and safety, with a view to obtaining any relief provided by or under this Act.

In the cases where the price of any article (goods) is not fixed by any law or is not displayed on the goods, or is not displayed on the package containing the goods, the Act does not contemplate any complaint being filed in regard to the price charged, on the plea that the price so charged is excessive.

In the cases where the value of the goods or services, and the compensation, if any, claimed, does not exceed Rs 20 lakh, the complaint may be filed in the District Forum. In the cases where the value of the goods or services, and the compensation, if any, claimed, exceeds Rs 20 lakh, but does not exceed Rs one crore, the complaint may be filed in the State Commission of the respective State.

However, in the cases where a joint petition has been filed, on behalf of a large number of complainants (victims), it will be the total amount of the compensation, claimed in the complaint, and not the single (individual) claims, which will be taken into account for deciding the appropriate jurisdiction, viz. State council or the District Forum, as the case may be.

The appeal against the verdict of the District Councils within the State may be heard by the respective State Commission. In the cases where the value of the goods or services, and the compensation, if any, claimed, exceeds Rs 1 crore, the complaint may be filed with the National Commission. The appeal against the verdict of any of the State Commission may also be heard by the National Commission.

The complaint may be filed with the appropriate Commission or Forum by the complainant or his authorised agent, in person, or it may even be sent by post to the appropriate authority. The complaint must be addressed to the Chairman of the appropriate authority.

Complaint must contain the following information: (a) The name, description and the address of the complainant (b) The name, description and the address of the opposite party or the parties, as far as these can be ascertained (c) The facts pertaining to the complaint(s), and as to when and where the complaint arose (d) Documents, if any, in support of the allegations (complaints) contained in the complaint (e) The relief that the complainant is seeking The complaint is required to be signed by the complainant, or by his authorised agent. A minimum of four copies of the complaint are required to be filed with the appropriate authorities concerned.

In regard to the goods, where the defects alleged, do not require any testing or analysis, the complainant is required to send a copy of the complaint to the opposite party mentioned in the complaint, within a period of 21 days from the date of its admission by the appropriate authority, directing him (opposite party) to give his version of the case within a period of 30 days or within such extended period, not exceeding 15days, as may be granted by the District Forum or the State Commission.

If the opposite party, on receipt of the complaint referred (sent) to him by the complainant, denies or disputes the allegation contained in the complaint, or omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the aforementioned time period of 30 days and the extended period not exceeding 15 days, granted by the District Forum or the State Commission, the appropriate authority will proceed to settle the dispute of the consumer (complainant) in the manner specified.

In regard to the goods where the defects alleged require any testing or analysis, various other procedures are followed, like collecting the sample, sending the same to the appropriate laboratory, sending the report of the laboratory to the opposite party, settlement of the dispute due to the report being defective in its methodology, and so on.

In the cases where the complaint pertains to the goods in respect of which the aforementioned procedures cannot be followed, or if the complaint relates to any services, the District Forum, after following the laid down procedures, shall proceed to settle the disputes of the customers, in the following manner: (a) On the basis of the evidence that are brought to its notice by the complainant, the opposite party, where the opposite party denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint. (b) On the basis of the evidence that are brought to its notice by the complainant, where the opposite omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time given by the District Forum. No proceedings, complying with the procedure of the aforesaid provisions of the Act, shall be called in questioning any Court on the ground that the principle of natural justice have not been complied with.

The District Forum shall have the same powers as are vested in the Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure For the purpose of conducting an enquiry, the District Forum shall have the same powers as are vested in a Court, while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in respect of the following matters: (a) For summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person (defendant or witness) for his examination on oath (b) Requiring the discovery or production of documents, or other material or object as producible evidence

(c) Receiving the evidence of affidavits (d) Requisitioning the report of the analysis or test concerned from the appropriate laboratory, or from any other relevant source (e) Issuing of any warrant, conferring authority, for the examination of ant witness (f) Any other matter which may be prescribed

Every procedure before the District Forum shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding. If after the proceeding conducted, the District Forum is satisfied that the goods complained against suffer from any defects specified in the complaint, or that any of the allegations contained in the complaint about the services rendered, are proved, it shall issue an order to the opposite party directing him to do one or more of the following things: (a) To remove the defects, pointed out by the appropriate laboratory, from the goods in question. (b) To replace the goods with new goods of similar description, which shall be free from defects. (c) To return to the complainant the price or the charges, as the case may be, paid by the complainant.

(d) To pay such amount as it has awarded as compensation to the complainant (consumer) for any loss or injury suffered by him (consumer) on account of the negligence of the opposite party. The District Forum shall also have punitive power to grant (punitive) damages in such circumstances as it (District Forum) may deem suitable (fit). (e)To remove the defects or deficiencies in the services rendered in question. (f) To discontinue the unfair trade practice or the restricted trade practice, or not to repeat them. (g) Not to offer the hazardous goods for sale. (h) To withdraw the hazardous goods from being for sale. (i) To stop the manufacturing of hazardous goods, and to desist from offering services that are hazardous in nature.

(j) To pay such amount as may be fixed by it (District Forum), if in its opinion the loss or injury has been suffered by a large number of consumers who are not identifiable conveniently. The sum so payable shall not be less than five per cent of the value of such defective goods sold, or the services rendered, as the case may be, to such consumers. The amount so obtained shall be credited to such persons and will be utilised in such manner as may be prescribed. (k) To issue corrective advertisement so as to neutralise the effect of the misleading advertisement. The cost of such corrective advertisement shall be payable by the opposite party who has been responsible for issuing such misleading advertisement. (l) To pay (provide) for adequate costs to the parties concerned.

The District Forum is required to decide the complaint, as far as possible, within a time-period of three months from the date of the notice received by the opposite party, in the cases where the complaint does not require any analysis or testing of the goods. In the cases where the complaint requires any analysis or testing of the goods, the time-period for the purpose has been fixed at within five months, instead of three months, as far as possible.

Any person aggrieved by an order of the District Forum can go in for the appeal to the State Commission, within a period of 30 days from the date of such order. However, the State Commission may even entertain the appeal if it is filed after the time-period of 30 days provided it is satisfied that there was sufficient reason for not filing the appeal within the specified time-period of 30 days.

But then, in the cases where the person is required to pay any amount, as per the order passed by the District forum, no appeal shall be entertained by the State Commission, unless at least 50 per cent of such amount, or a sum of Rs 25, 000, whichever is lesser, has been deposited by the appellant, in the prescribed manner if such person goes in for the appeal to the State Commission. On the application of the complainant, or on its own action, the State Commission, at any stage of the proceedings, may transfer any complaint pending before the District Forum to any other District Forum within the State , if the interest of justice so demands.

The State Commission shall generally function in the State Capital, but it may even function at any other place as the State Government may, in consultation with the State Commission, notify in the Official Gazette from time to time.

Any person aggrieved by an order of the State Commission can go in for the appeal against such order of the State Commission to the National Commission, within a period of 30 days from the date of such order. However, the National Commission may even entertain the appeal if it is filed after the time-period of 30 days provided it (National Commission) is satisfied that there was sufficient reason for not filing the appeal within the specified time-period of 30 days.

But, in the cases where the person is required to pay any amount, as per the order passed by the State Commission, no appeal shall be entertained by the National Commission, unless at least 50 per cent of such amount, or a sum of Rs 35,000, whichever is lesser, has been deposited by the appellant, in the prescribed manner, if such person goes in for the appeal to the National Commission.

An appeal filed with the State Commission or the National Commission shall be heard as expeditiously as possible, and efforts will be made to finally dispose of the appeal within a period of 90 days from the date of its admission.

Ordinarily no adjournment of the appeal shall be granted by the State Commission or the National Commissionunless sufficient reason is shown and the reason to grant the adjournment of the appeal, and the reason for the grant of adjournment of the appeal, have been recorded in writing by the respective State Commission or the National Commission. The State Commission or the National Commission, shall make such orders as to the cost of the adjournment of the appeal so caused.

The National Commission, shall have the following powers: (i)The powers of a Civil Court, and (ii)The powers to issue an order to the opposite party directing him to do any one more of the things referred to in Section 14 (1), Clauses (a) to (i). Further, the National Commission shall follow such procedure as may be prescribed by the Central Government. The Supreme Court has held that the Consumer Forums do not have any power to pass an interim order.

Any person aggrieved by an order of the National Commission can go in for the appeal to the Supreme Court, within a period of 30 days from the date of such order. However, the Supreme Court may even entertain the appeal if it is filed after the time-period of 30 days provided it (Supreme Court) is satisfied that there was sufficient reason for not filing the appeal within the specified time-period of 30 days.

But then, in the cases where the person is required to pay any amount, as per the order passed by the National Commission, no appeal shall be entertained by the Supreme Court, unless at least 50 per cent of such amount, or a sum of Rs 50, 000, whichever is lesser, has been deposited by the appellant, in the prescribed manner, if such person goes in for the appeal to Supreme Court.

Every order passed by the District Forum, State Commission or the National Commission shall be final, if no appeal has been preferred against such order under the provisions of the Act. The District Forum, 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.

However, a complaint may even be entertained after the specified time-period of two years provided the complainant satisfies the appropriate authority that he had sufficient reason for not filing the complaint within the specified time-period of two years. But no such complaint shall be entertained by the appropriate authority, unless it records its reasons for condoning such delay. No action or proceeding of the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission shall be invalid by reason only of the existence of any vacancy amongst its members, or any defect in the constitution thereof.