Consumer Forum is the special purpose court, that deals with cases regarding consumer disputes and grievances. These are judiciary set ups by the government to protect the consumer rights. Its main function is to maintain the fair practices by the sellers towards consumers.
which type of cases can be filed ?
Consumers can file a case against a seller if they are harassed or exploited by sellers. The court will only give a verdict in favour of the consumers/customers if they have proof of exploitation, i.e., bills or other documents.
who can file case in consumer forum ?
Any person who can be termed as a consumer under the Act can make a complaint. The following are the persons who can file a complaint under the Act : a consumer; or any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or under any other law for the time being in force, or the Central Government or any State Government, one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest.
what are the procedures for filing in consumer forum ?
Following is an outline of the procedure for filing a complaint before the District Forum or the State Commission. We have attempted to give simple information and key pointers, but you may consult the Consumer Protection Act for further details.
1.Jurisdiction: If the relief claimed in the complaint is less than Rs. 20,00,000/-, then the complaint must be filed before the District Consumer Forum. If the relief claimed is between Rs. 20,00,000/- and Rs. 1,00,00,000/-, then the complaint must be filed before the State Commission. When the relief claim exceeds Rs. 1,00,00,000/- then the complaint must be filed before the National Commission at New Delhi. However, see point 6(j) for more details regarding jurisdiction of the Consumer Courts.
2.A ‘prescribed fee’ is payable for filing a complaint before the District Forum, State Commission or National Commission as follows:
Upto 1 lakh - Rs.100/-
1 lakh to 5 lakhs - Rs.200/-
5 lakhs to 10 lakhs - Rs.400/-
10 lakhs to 20 lakhs - Rs.500/-
You can pay this by Demand Draft in favour of “President, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.”
3.The complainant can present his / her complaint in person or by his / her authorised representative to the District Forum / State Commission. There is no requirement for a lawyer or consumer group to represent the complainant.
4.The complaint can be sent by Registered Post to the District Forum/ State Commission. A minimum of 5 copies of the complaint have to be filed. This includes three copies for the Forum [in green (Court) paper] plus one for the Office of the Forum and one for the opposite party. Do remember to keep one copy for yourself. An additional copy for each additional opposite party has to be filed. Since the Forum / Commission have the power to pass ex parte orders or dismiss your complaint, please ensure that you carry out regular follow-up after filing the complaint. Every hearing date has to be attended to prevent any damage to the complaint.
5.The complaint should be signed by you, the complainant. If you are authorising some one to represent you, give him / her a signed authorisation letter. In the event of the death of a complainant, his/her legal heir or representative can continue as a complainant.
6.A complaint should contain the following information:
a.A cause-title before the main heading. For example,
Before the Hon’ble Chennai District Consumer Redressal Forum
Mr. A ...Complainant
XYZ Co. Pvt. Ltd. ... Opposite Party
b.A heading -- e.g. ‘Complaint under Section 12(a) of the Consumer Protection Act’.
c.The name, description and address of the complainant.
d.The name, description and address of the opposite party or parties as the case may be, so far as they can be ascertained.
e.The facts relating to the complaint and when and where it arose.
f.How the opposite parties are liable to be proceeded against - why are they answerable or accountable to you in relation to the complaint
g.Copies of documents in support of the allegation contained in the complaint, complainants are advised to keep copies of the complaint and all furnished documents for their records. A list of documents should also be furnished along with the complaint, duly signed by you.
h.In case you want to claim consequential damages due to negligence please note that negligence or deficiency must be clearly alleged, defined and established to get compensation under Consumer Protection Act.
i.Compensation may also be sought on account of consequential damages, irrespective of the fine print in many contracts that may suggest that the seller is not responsible. There is no ceiling on compensation claimed.
n.You are also entitled to claim the costs of your complaint from the opposite party. Hence include that amount in your complaint.
o.The limitation period for filing complaint is two years from the date of the cause of action. In case the limitation period expires, the Forum or Commission may still take your complaint on board, if they are convinced about the reasonableness of the cause for the delay. However, do avoid delays, since you will be required to provide explanations for every single day.
7.Consumers facing the same problem can come together and file a single complaint. Enclosing a petition with the complaint stating that the facts and circumstances relating to the complaint and the relief claimed are the same for all the petitioners and that they may be allowed to join together and file a single complaint.
8.Complainants who appear in person often are asked to present an affidavit of proof when there is no recorded evidence on a point of fact. This affidavit of proof must be in first person and should contain the details given in the format enclosed.