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Filing Complaint Under Consumer Protection Act 2019 (Amended)

The Consumer Protection Act,2019 provides for efficient and effective settlement of consumer disputes while promoting the interest of the consumers. The introduction of online filing of complaints and meditation proceedings is a step towards speedy disposal of consumer cases and is a greater step towards digitization of consumer disputes.

Mechanism for filing complaints:

Under section 2 clause 6 of CPA,2019 complaint is defined as:

Any allegation in writing, made by a complainant for obtaining relief provided under the act in case of unfair trade practices, defects in goods, deficiency in service, excess price of goods and services, selling of hazardous goods and product liability

Who Has the Authority to File a Complaint?

A complaint can be filed before designated authorities by:

  • A consumer
  • Any voluntary consumer association registered under any law for the time being in force
  • The Central Government or any State Government
  • The Central Authority
  • One or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest
  • In the event of a consumer's death, his legal heir or representative
  • In the case of a juvenile, his parent or legal guardian
It is to be noted, there is no need for an advocate to appear in consumer court. Consumers can file and represent their complaints themselves or via a representative.

Mode of complaint:

A complaint can be filed in form of writing or online via govt. Provided portal @ https://consumerhelpline.gov.in/ or through mobile apps launched by the government of India like NCH app, Umang app or Consumer app.

The status of a complaint can be checked online and the fees for submission of the complaint can also be submitted through an online payment portal.

Things to keep in mind when instituting consumer complaints:

Issuance of notice:
It is recommended that a notification be sent to the opposing party before filing the complaint, outlining the defects/deficiencies in the products or services offered. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the complainant may submit a complaint with a jurisdiction authority/forum.

Jurisdiction determination:

Pecuniary jurisdiction:

The pecuniary jurisdiction limit has been modified under the CPA, 2019. According to the new statute, the pecuniary limitation bar is as follows
  1. District Commission: Amount not exceeding 1 crore
  2. State Commission: 1 Crore - 10 Crore Rupees
  3. National Commission: Amount exceeding Rupees 10 Crore

Territorial jurisdiction:

As per the CPA,2019 a complaint can be filed where the consumer resides or personally works for gains Aswell as the place where the opposite party resides or carry-on business. The complaint can also be filed where the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.

Submission of Complaint:

A complaint can be submitted either online or in person. It might be submitted in person by the complainant or by his representative. It can also be sent by registered post with the court fee.

Three copies of the complaint are required to be submitted out of which one is retained for the official purpose, one is forwarded to the opposite party and one is for the complainant. If the number of opposing parties is increased, more copies of the complaint are necessary.

Contents of the Complaint:

The complaint should include the following information:

  • Name, description, and address of the complainant
  • The name, description, and address of the opposing party or parties
  • Facts about the complaint, such as when and where it occurred
  • Documents to back up allegations, if any
  • Specifics of the dispute: a flaw in the goods/a deficiency in the service
  • The relief being sought

Limitation for filing Complaint/Appeal:

The complaint must be filed within two years of the date the cause of action arose. This would be two years from the day the deficit in service or defect in products was discovered. This is also known as the statute of limitations for filing a complaint under consumer court.

Appeal before state commission would have to be filed within 30 days from the order of District commission and appeal before National commission is to be made within 30 days from the order of the lower forum and for an appeal before Supreme court against the order of Nation commission is to be within 45 days.

Court Fees:
the court fees remain nil up to consideration of 5 lakh Rs involved before the district commission. In respect of state commission, the court fees range from 2,500 Rs to 6,000 Rs whereas court fees in the case of the national commission are 7,500 Rs.

In the event of an appeal before the State Commission or the National Commission, a deposit of 50% of the entire award amount passed by the lower commission is required.

Alternative Dispute Mechanism:

With the advent of the procedure of mediation proceeding under CPA,2019. it is possible to resolve consumer issues more quickly. If the commission believes there is a prospect of resolving the issue between the parties, the case might be referred to the Mediation Cell or Either party may submit a formal request to the District, State, or National Commission

Procedure to be followed:
The procedure to be followed might be mutually agreed upon by the parties. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the mediator will follow the procedure outlined below
  • The mediator will choose the time, date, and location where all parties must be present.
  • Mediation proceedings may be held in the Mediation Cell connected to the District, State, or National Commission, and joint/separate sessions of the parties may be held.
  • Within 10 days following the session, both parties must submit a Memorandum of Concerns to the mediator and other parties involved, outlining the issues that must be resolved.
  • The mediator shall encourage a consensual resolution between the parties, convey the parties' points of view, and aid the parties in resolving the issue using the necessary information supplied to the mediator by both parties. The parties should achieve an acceptable solution within 30 days.
  • If the parties reach an agreement, it must be reduced in writing and signed by both the parties and the Mediator. The mediator must also provide a thorough report on the settlement to the relevant commission.
  • If the parties are unable to achieve an agreement, the Mediator must submit a report to the commission outlining the reasons for the failure to reach an agreement.
End-Notes:
  1. G. B. Reddy and Baglekar Akash Kumar, Consumer Protection Act: A Commentary (1st Edition, 2021)
  2. J. Jagannath,Consumer protection act 2019 comes into force today, covers e-commerce too, Livemint (20 july,2021,12:45 pm), https://www.livemint.com/news/india/consumer-protection-act-2019-comes-into-force-from-today-covers-e-commerce-too-11595245073150.html
  3. Consumer protection act 2019 6, cl 2.

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