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How to file a consumer complaint in India

We all people buy goods or avail services for our requirements in life. Sometimes these goods or services may not be up to mark or may be less in quantity than required or the charges may be more than the fixed price. More often the consumers are cheated by the traders. Because of these problems there was a need to protect the consumers. The government keeping in mind the best interests of consumers enacted the Consumer Protection Act 1986 for providing a quicker and speedy disposal of consumer grievances.

Who can file a consumer complaint

Before filing a consumer complaint we should know as to who can file a consumer complaint. The answer to this question is only a consumer can file a consumer complaint. Now the question arises as to who is a consumer. According to section 2(1) (d) a consumer is a person who buys goods or services for consideration which may be partly or fully paid or partly or fully promised or any other person who may consume goods with the approval of buyer and not for manufacturing or resale purpose. Apart from the consumer following persons and entities can also file complaint:
a) a voluntary consumer association
b) central or state government
c) numerous consumers having same interest in goods or services
d) in case of death of consumer his legal heirs and representatives

The government passed the Consumer Protection Act intending to make the process of complaint filing simple and easy for consumers. So a consumer can file a complaint on his own without taking the help of a lawyer.

Filing of a consumer complaint

Before filing the complaint with consumer forum it is advised that consumer gives notice to other party about defect in product (goods or services) etc. and see whether the other party is willing to pay the damages or replace the product. If it is then the dispute is settled then and there. But if the other party neglects or refuses then the consumer needs to approach the respective forum and file the complaint.

Before filing the complaint, consumer first needs to decide in which jurisdiction of consumer forum his case lies.

A. Jurisdiction of Consumer Forums:


The consumer should file his complaint to a consumer forum which has both territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction to decide the matter.
Territorial Jurisdiction Complaint should be instituted with a district forum (section 11), state commission (section 17) or national commission (section 21) within the local limits of whose jurisdiction,
a) The opposite party or in case of more than one opposite parties, one of the opposite parties resides or carries on business or personally works for gain.

c) The cause of action arose.

Pecuniary Jurisdiction Consumer complaints can be filed with respect to value enumerated as below,
Forums - Amount
District forum - up to 20 lakhs
State Commission - 20 lakhs to 1 crore
National Commission - more than 1 crore
The award pronounced by national commission can be challenged in Supreme Court.

B. Procedure of complaint filing in Consumer Forums:

Step 1. The complaint can be made on simple paper, stamp paper is not necessary for it.

Step 2. The complaint should be drafted stating the facts necessary for establishing the cause of action. Following things needs to be mentioned in complaint by the consumer:
a) Name and complete details of complainant and opposite party or parties.
b) Date and time of purchase of goods or services availed and amount paid for them.
c) Particulars of dispute; like defect in goods or inferior quality of service etc.
d) Particulars of relief sought in the complaint.
e) Particulars of goods purchased with numbers or details of services availed.
f) Copies of all those documents can be attached which support the contention of consumer and are necessary to establish the cause of action like copy of bills of goods bought or service availed, warranty receipt, copy of complaint made to trader asking to compensate for the loss.

Step 3. The compensation claimed should be specified in the complaint and along with it consumer can also ask for refunds, damages, litigation expenditure etc. But these amounts should be detailed under different heads and in accordance with pecuniary jurisdiction of respective consumer forums.

Step 4. The statement of jurisdiction should be made in the complaint as to how the case falls within the jurisdiction of consumer forum.

Step 5. A verification affidavit should be affixed with the complaint stating that all the facts and claims made in the complaint are true and correct.

Step 6. At the end of complaint the signature should be put. The consumer may argue his case on his own or through his authorized representative. The complaint made with district forum or state commission needs to be filed in three sets and when made with national commission needs to be filed in four sets with additional sets for each opposite party.

Step 7. The complaint has to be filed with within two years from the date on which the cause of action arose. In case of delay sufficient reasons has to be given to the forum so it may allow the complaint to be filed.

Conclusion
The consumers need to become more aware about their rights and need to stand up against malpractices done by traders.

This article is an endeavor to educate consumers about how they can file a consumer complaint and take action against traders who engage in such malpractices. We all need to be more vigilant and cautious about the quality and quantity of goods we buy from traders and it is our duty to spread awareness about consumer rights in the society.

Sources:
1.http://ncdrc.nic.in/bare_acts/Consumer%20Protection%20Act-1986.html
2.https://www.vakilno1.com/legal-faq/file-consumer-complaint.html
3.https://www.lawfarm.in/blogs/how-to-file-a-consumer-complaint-in-india

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