The article below helps gives a detail analysis on how an aggrieved consumer can file a Consumer Grievance Complaint by making the best use of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
How to file a consumer grievance complaint?
The following is the procedure for filing a Consumer grievance before the Consumer Court (District Forum):
(State Forums and National Forums have their own set of procedures; which, are essential the same as district forum)
A typed complaint is preferred in comparison to a written complaint.
The basic format followed -> double spaced, with margin space of at least 1½ inches on the left, top and bottom.
Arrange the complaint in the following order and number all pages of the document.
1. Index giving the page number of each document.
2. Application for condonation of delay (if there is delay), give valid reason, duly affirmed before a notary public.
3. Complaint – containing details of the grievance, stating reason for claiming relief including relief of legal costs, damages and interest.
Complainant has to sign the complaint.
4. The consumer can appear before the Consumer Forum in person, or his close relative can also appear on his behalf. Authorizing, a close relative to appear on behalf requires a letter of authority.
However, a consumer can also appoint an advocate to appear on their behalf, here the, advocate does all the paper work, attends the hearings as scheduled.
5. Affidavit – stating the contents of the Complaint are true.
6. All documents/evidence in support of Complaint in original and photocopies.
Before filing a complaint:
Prior to filing of complaint, aggrieved party must give a notice in writing to the supplier or service asking him to rectify any faults, defects and deficiencies found.
The notice should clearly establish the reason for grievance and recourse sought to rectify the fault, defect or replacement of good.
Normally, a notice period of one month is served. Additionally, the said notice should also be addressed to the nearest forum in the area of the respondent.
Thirdly, complaint must be filed within 2 years from cause of action. (in case of delay; valid reason to condone delay)
4.What are the fees for filing a consumer grievance complaint?
The fee for filing a complaint before the consumer court depends upon the amount involved.
1.Before District Forum:
- For claims up to Rs. 1 lakh = Rs. 100.
- For claims from Rs.1 lakh up to Rs. 5 lakhs = Rs. 200.
- For claims from Rs.5 lakh up to Rs. 10 lakhs = Rs. 400.
- For claims from lakh up to Rs. 20 lakhs = Rs. 500.
2.Before State Commission:
- For claims from
For claims from lakh up to Rs. 1Crore = Rs. 4000.
lakh up to Rs. 50 lakhs = Rs. 2000.
3.Before National Commission
- For claims exceeding Rs. 1 crore = Rs. 5000.
The fee has to be paid in the form of a demand draft on a nationalized bank in favor of the President of the concerned District Consumer Forum (Registrar of the State or National Commission, if the Complaint is filed in these places).
5.What is the process after consumer grievance complaint?
On filing of complaint by consumer or consumers advocate in the office of the concerned forum, the Consumer Forum’s office goes through the Complaint and point out any deficiencies.
If the forum finds any deficiencies, corrections are made and refiled again.
The Consumer Forum’s office assigns the consumer a short date for admission.
On the date assigned consumer or his representative appears and gives his genuine reason for filing a consumer complaint.
Additionally, on admission of complaint, the Consumer Forum gives directions to submit complaint copies to various respondents along with a notice prepared by the Commission’s office.
The consumer and respondent appear before the forum. The forum takes the required recourse of redressal to secure justice, compensation and gain to the aggrieved consumer.
An appeal can be made by the consumer, if not satisfied by verdict of district forum to state commission and further to national commission, within a period of 30 days, which can be extended to 15 days more.
What action does the Consumer Court take?
The forum takes the required recourse of redressal to secure justice, compensation and gain to the aggrieved consumer.
Lets take the example of a case law where the consumer court gave recourse to an aggrieved party:
- Chetan Prakash vs. MET Institute of Computer Science
Prakash, appeared for his final year BSc exams, however prior to the declaration of his results, he sought admission to MET Institute, towards pursuing his Masters in Computer Science. However, the institute laid a condition, that in order to pursue the MCS course,a student has to clear his final year exams. Prakash, however, went ahead and deposited his fees towards the MCS course before the declaration of his result. On declaration of his result, Prakash fails his exams. On failing his exams, he goes to withdraw his admission from the MCS course and requests for a refund, to which the institute does not responded. Finally, he sends a legal notice to the institute, and registers a complain with the consumer forum.
The Court gives a judgement directing the institute, to pay the complainant, Chetan Prakash, Rs. 32,000 as compensation for harassment, along with the course fee of Rs.62,200.
- The consumer courts (district court, state commission and National Commission) are given vast powers to enforce their orders. If a defaulter does not appear in court despite notices and reminders, the court may decide the matter in defaulters absence.
- The forum can sentence the defaulter to a maximum of three years’ imprisonment and impose a fine of Rs. 10,000.
- Forums can issue warrants to produce defaulters in court. They can use the police and revenue departments to enforce orders.
The Consumer Protection Act, is a very elaborate in seeking compensation for any kind of damages faced.
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