Consumer Courts for protection of consumers’ rights...
Often consumers have been victims of unethical and illegal commercial practices of manufacturers and traders of goods as well as providers of services. Complaints can be for deficient goods or deficient services.
To safeguard the rights of consumers, Parliament passed the Consumer Protection Act in 1986. As stipulated therein, District Forums, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission have been set up at District, State and National level respectively. As many as 629 District Forums and 35 State Commissions are functional in India at the moment.
The advantage of consumer courts is that they provide fast, cheap and summary redressal of consumer disputes. Claim below Rs 20 lacs, between Rs 20 Lacs to Rs 1 Crore and above Rs 1 Crore are to be filed with District, State and National level forums respectively.
Seek redressal of complaints through District Forums!
To begin with, the aggrieved consumer has to write to the supplier or service provider mentioning the problem and seeking an explanation. If reply is not forthcoming within 15 days, complaint is to be filed with the applicable Forum in person or through registered post. Filing of such a complaint has to be done within a period of 2 years of the transaction.
The complaint can be on plain paper but in specified number of copies along with relevant correspondence, bills and an affidavit. A nominal fee is to be paid by Demand Draft. The Forum then issues a notice to the supplier or service provider who needs to respond within 30 days. In case of a product, do ensure that names of retailer as well as manufacturer are mentioned in the complaint.
During hearing, the complainant may be present in person or though an authorized representative and there is no need to engage a lawyer. In the event of supplier or service provider not responding, the Forum will pass orders ex-parte. The Forum has the right to award compensation, punitive damages, consequential damages due to negligence etc.
Should a need arise for you to file a consumer complaint, Resources listed below cover the procedure involved and the contact details of the Forum applicable to your location.