– This article purports to empower laymen, to be able to draft and file a consumer complaint and seek justice for themselves. We suggest you keep open The Consumer Protection Act 1986 for handy reference. For clarification, you may write to some of our best lawyers for consumer matters in Chandigarh.
The relationship between traders and consumers goes as long as human history. Over the years, with the advancement in trade, society, and laws, this relation has become denser than it ever was. In this speedy world, fallouts are regular and so do they attract chaos ending into discontent and, often, litigation.
Victim of Misrepresentation
In this competitive world where there is an active race for money. We have different goods and services advertised through various mediums like newspapers, magazines, televisions, radio, internet etc. While ads tremendously increase demand for a product, thereby, increasing profits for manufacturer/ trader, on the other hand, the point of consideration is lit up when what is offered does not match what is sold. The consumers, at times, end up feeling disheartened, disappointed and cheated. Deficiency could range from manufacturing defects, inadequacies in quantity and quality, deficient services, or, non-compliance with warranty/ guaranty given to the consumer.
History of laws in protection of consumers:
Certain laws got formulated to provide protection to a person from being cheated and stringent action in case of a default:
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969
The Standard of Weights and Measures Act, 1976
ENACTMENT OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986:
Though these enactments provided some sort of respite to the consumers, however, there was a need for a specific enactment to protect the consumers and safeguard their interests. Soon Indian Parliament enacted one of the most compassionate social legislation with strong objectives to guard consumers against exploitation. The Consumer Protection bill was introduced and it received the assent of the President on 24th December 1986.
It came on the statute book as The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (68 of 1986) and is amended in 1991, 1993, and 2002. The preamble of the Act lays down the imperative role it plays in consumer rights, by providing speedy, simple, inexpensive and prompt redressal to consumer disputes. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 has become a remedy for consumers throughout the nation and is a standout amongst other important legislations endorsed for the benefit of the consumers.
OBJECT OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986:
The complete act circles around;
- The Complaint
- The complainant
- Defects in goods in question, and;
- Removal of the defects or replacement of the goods with new goods of similar description etc.
Thus, enabling to protect the interests of the consumer. The act encompasses a three-tier system District Forum, the State Commission and the National Commission for the redressal of grievances of consumers.
BEFORE YOU LEARN HOW TO DRAFT AND FILE A CONSUMER COMPLIANT, IT IS RELEVANT TO KNOW WHO IS A ‘CONSUMER’ UNDER THE ACT?
The Consumer Protection Act 1986 is the Magna-Carta for consumer protection. It is drafted extremely well and the definitions laid in the act are of a very strong nature. One such definition is of Consumer. The definition is given under Section 2(1)(d).
The act essentially lays out that a consumer is:
- Anyone who has purchased any goods or services for self-use after consideration;
- Anyone who acquires goods for self-employment;
- Anyone who uses such goods or services with the permission of the buyer;
- Who obtains goods or avail services on deferred payment basis;
Therefore, people who buy goods for commercial purposes are not taken to be consumers. For example, if you buy a property or a product to sell it for profit, you cannot come under the definition of consumer.
ESSENTIAL STEPS IN A CONSUMER COMPLAINT:
1. Legal Notice:
In case of a deficiency, the consumer must in all cases first approach the seller with his grievance and demand for redressal. In case the seller (at whose end the quality was promised), refuses to redress, a legal notice needs to served upon him urging for redressal. The notice should allow a reasonable time of 30 days to the seller, to take action on the grievance and redress it. However, if the seller still refuses/ avoids/ ignores the legal notice, or if the consumer is not satisfied with the methods adopted by the seller, then the consumer has a right to approach the forums established under the act for redressal of his grievance.
2. Drafting of a Complaint:
While drafting a complaint one needs to keep in mind the following:
- Present the given facts in a manner that highlights the main issue at one instance and on the other hand projects the story well.
- At the opening, a brief list of dates and events are to be made that lays down the main facts with respect to the transactions and the deficiency in service caused.
- To be followed by a detailed explanation of the agreement and services so promised by the opposite parties, for the value paid by the complainant.
- In all, a comprehensive list of events is drafted that leads to the filling of the complaint along with the annexures marked and numbered.
- After the complaint case is completely drafted, true copies of the documents are annexed (including the bank statements, if any, guarantee/ warranty, contractual promise, receipts etc.).
- The complaint is sworn on oath by way of affidavit, to be signed and tendered by the complainant.
3. Filling of a consumer complaint:
The jurisdiction of Consumer forum/ commission depends upon the value of the subject matter. Refer to the table below for the aspect of jurisdiction:
|District Forum Section 11||State Commission Section 17||National Commission Section 21|
|Up to Rs. 20 lacs||More than Rs. 20 lacs but least than Rs. 1 crore||More than Rs. one crore|
|No appellate jurisdiction||(a) Appeal against the orders of district forums
(b) In the case where the district forum exceeded the jurisdiction or failed to exercise jurisdiction
|(a) Appeal against the orders of the state commission
(b) In the case where the state commission exceed the jurisdiction or failed to exercise jurisdiction
For filling a consumer complaint case at the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, there are some other procedures that need attention:
- A court fee in form of postal order or a demand draft is to be attached.
- A court fee/stamp duty on Power of attorney.
- 4 sets of the complete consumer complaint are to be given.
Finally, filing can be done at the consumer dispute redressal commission office to the assigned authority. Soon, after going through all the academic baseline with respect to consumer redressal legislation, and its procedure, it’s time to practical experience the drafting and the filling of a specific case.
Wishing you Justice!