DISTRICT CONSUMER FORUM
Consumer Protection Act, 1986
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, guarantees the following statutory rights to the consumers:
The Act mandates establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at the Centre as well as in each State and District, with a view to promote consumer awareness.
To provide inexpensive, speedy and summary redressal of consumer disputes, quasi-judicial bodies have been set up in each District and State and at the national level, called the District Forums, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission respectively. At present, there are 604 District Forums and 34 State Commissions with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) at the apex. NCDRC has its office at Janpath Bhawan, A Wing, 5th Floor, Janpath, New Delhi.
Each District Forum is headed by a person who is or has been or is eligible to be appointed as a District Judge and each State Commission is headed by a person who is or has been a Judge of High Court.
- District Forum can entertain complaints if the value of the goods or services is from Re. 1 to Rs. 20 lakhs.
- State Commission can entertain complaints if the value of the goods or services ranging above Rs. 20 lakhs to Rs. 1 crore.
There is no fee for filing a complaint.
- A complaint can be filed in plain paper.
- Engaging a Lawyer is not compulsory.
Who can file a complaint?
- A Consumer
- Any registered voluntary consumer organization
- The Central Government
- The State Government / UT Administration
- One or more consumers on behalf of numerous consumers who are having the same interest (class action complaints)
When can a Complaint be filed?
- Under the Act, a complaint can be made in writing in the following circumstances
- If you have suffered loss or damage as a result of any unfair/ restrictive trade practices adopted by the trader
- If the goods purchased suffer from any defect
- If the services hired/ availed of suffer from deficiencies in any respect
- If you have been charged a price in excess of the price displayed of fixed by or under any law in force
- If the goods hazardous to life and safety, are being offered for sale to public in contravention of any law in force
What information should a complaint contain?
- Name & Complete address of complainant
- Name & Complete address of the opposite party
- Date of Purchase / service obtained
- Amount paid for consideration
- Items of goods with quantities/ nature of service
- Whether the complaint relates to unfair restrictive trade practice/ defective goods/ deficient service/ charging excess price
- Copies of bills/ vouchers/ receipts and copies of correspondence made, if any
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. What should I do in case my Rights as a Consumer are violated?
A. Before you start to take legal action it is important to try and resolve the problem yourself. Make sure you are calm. Be clear and reasonable. If you are not sure what you are entitled to do under the law, ask for advice first. Do not loose your temper. Talk to all the concerned persons. All this would hold you in good stead if and when your case goes to court.
Q. What are the required documents and facts?
A. Always keep copies of your bills, written contracts, estimates, receipts, warranties, and other documents that are related to the complaint. Keep detailed written notes of all conversations with the business including names and dates.. Keep copies of any letters you send. Never throw away or misplace any of these documents after you make your purchase as most people often do.
Q. Have I exhausted all other remedies?
A. It is important to have exhausted all other remedies before filing a complaint . This will be viewed positively in a consumer court. Going to court is a big step and should not be taken lightly.
Q. What does the Act apply to?
A. The Act applies to all goods and services unless specifically exempted by the Central Government. It covers all the sectors whether private, public or cooperative.
Q. Can I argue and present my complaint in court myself?
A. Yes, You do not have to be a lawyer to argue before consumer courts, or for that matter any civil Court. However if the matter is a complicated one it is always advisable to engage someone including a lawyer with necessary experience in such matters. By a series of judgments, the Courts have granted a party to the proceeding before the District Forum/State Commission the right to authorise a person of his choice to represent him and also to examine and cross-examine the witnesses, address the Court and take part in the proceedings as the case may be.