This article is written by Akash Thakur, a 3rd year B.B.A LL.B student at JSS Law College, Mysore.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, attempts to protect buyers not only from traditional sellers but also from the new e-commerce retailers/platforms. The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, received assent on 9th August 2019 and came into force from 20th July 2020 with its salient features, including the establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers. The Act has simplified the way of filing complaints by introducing online portals for filing.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 repealed and replaced the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The major changes introduced in the new Act are mentioned herein below :
WHO CAN FILE A COMPLAINT ?
Any person who falls under any of the said categories [Sec. 2(5)]:
A consumer [Sec. 2(7)] –
(i) Buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose.
(ii) Hires or avails of any service for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment but does not include a person who avails of such service for any commercial purpose.
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 case of death of a consumer, his legal heir or legal representative.
In case of a consumer being a minor, his parent or legal guardian.
GROUNDS FOR COMPLAINT
Complaint means any allegation in writing made by a complainant for obtaining any relief provided by or under COPRA, 2019.
Your Complaint must be based on any of the said grounds [Sec. 2(6)]:
an unfair contract or unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice has been adopted by any trader or service provider.
the goods bought by him or agreed to be bought by him suffer from one or more defects.
the services hired or availed of or agreed to be hired or availed of by him suffer from any deficiency.
a trader or a service provider, as the case may be, has charged for the goods or for the services mentioned in the Complaint, a price in excess of the price—
(i) fixed by or under any law for the time being in force.
(ii) displayed on the goods or any package containing such goods.
(iii) displayed on the price list exhibited by him by or under any law for the time being in force.
(iv) agreed between the parties.
the goods, which are hazardous to life and safety when used, are being offered for sale to the public—
(i) in contravention of standards relating to safety of such goods as required to be complied with, by or under any law for the time being in force.
(ii) where the trader knows that the goods so offered are unsafe to the public.
the services which are hazardous or likely to be hazardous to life and safety of the public when used, are being offered by a person who provides any service and who knows it to be injurious to life and safety.
a claim for product liability action lies against the product manufacturer, product seller or product service provider, as the case may be.
HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT ?
District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (Up to 1 Cr)
The Complaint can be made on plain paper, and you can file it in person or through an authorized agent, after it has been notarised, through registered post or regular post. You must serve a personal or legal notice to the opposite party.
You will need to file four copies, plus additional copies for each opposite party.
The Complaint must be filed within two years from the date the cause of action has arisen.
Supporting documents like receipts or vouchers must be attached to the Complaint.
The court fee for cases involving up to Rs 5 lakh is nil. Refer to Table 1 for Fees.
The demand draft should be made out to the President, Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, (name of) district.
Note : It is not necessary to approach an advocate to file a consumer complaint.
State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (1 Cr to 10 Cr)
One can file a complaint where the value of goods or services exceeds Rs 1 Crore but less than Rs 10 Crores.
An appeal can be filed on orders of the district forum within 45 days of the order being passed.
The demand draft should be made in favour of the registrar, (name of) state commission and be payable in that state only.
To file an appeal, you need the following:
(i) Documents of record with correct name of all parties and their addresses.
(ii) Certified copy of the district forum order.
(iii) More than four additional copies for each respondent for filing an appeal.
(iv) Any conditional delay, interim orders, and other petitions to be submitted along with an affidavit.
(v) A statutory deposit of Rs 25,000 or 50 percent of the award/compensation amount, whichever is less, is to be made by the appellant/opposite parties.
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (above 10 Cr)
A dissatisfied consumer can file a complaint directly with the national commission if the value exceeds 10 Crores.
An appeal against decisions of the state commission within a month from the date of the order.
The court fee is Rs 7,500, and the demand draft should be in the name of The Registrar, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
You can appeal against the orders of the national commission in the Supreme Court within 30 days.
Table 1: Prescribed fees as per Consumer Protection (Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions) Rules, 2020
COMPLAINTS THROUGH OTHER MEDIUM
Online Complaint : A consumer complaint can be filed online by registering on the website of the national consumer helpline https://consumerhelpline.gov.in/. A complainant can register himself as a consumer by filling in the required details such as name, email, contact number, and a password. After registration, the consumer can log in with the help of log-in information and passwords. Then, the consumer should click on ‘register your complaint’ and should further fill the details regarding the Complaint and upload the required documents.
Note: There are different grievance portals in various sectors (RERA, TRAI, etc.)
Telephone : One can also call on the National Consumer Helpline number 1800-11-4000 or 14404 to register his Complaint or send a message on 8130009809.
Mobile Application : A complainant can also register his grievance through the NCH app, Consumer app, or the UMANG app.
Real-time Tracking : The complainant will be provided with a unique id after registering the complainant. With the help of this unique id, the consumer can track the status of his Complaint.
Payment : The required fee for the consumer complainant can be paid through an online payment gateway.
The Act intends to protect the interests of consumers and for the said purpose, established authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. With the reduced fees, the Act encourages consumers to report any exploitations against them. The Act seems to be a vital tool in protecting consumer rights in the country.