With the economic development, the buying capacity of the consumers has increased along with the choices of products and services in the market. The consumer is now more aware of their rights than they were ever before. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 of India protects the rights of the consumers in India and also has a mechanism to address the customer complaints. So how does one go about filing a complaint under the consumer protection Act, 1986? Here is a guide for you.
The act clearly defines the term, Consumer. According to the act, a consumer in India is any person who:-
- Buys any goods;
- Hires any services;
- Uses goods with the approval of the buyers;
- Hires services with the service provider’s approval;
- Uses the goods to earn livelihood or self-employment;
- Uses the services to earn livelihood or self-employment;
Who can file a complaint?
According to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, any person who is a consumer who bought a product or service, fully or partially paid for his use is a consumer. Since the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 extends to the whole of India, any consumer can file a complaint to the consumer forum in India.
Steps to file a complaint
- Drafting the complaint petition– In a precise manner, a complaint needs to be drafted with the facts and proofs such as any bills, receipts, documents. Three copies need to be made of the complaint and filed with an affidavit. The complaint also needs to be served to all the parties involved.
- After the drafting, the complainant has to choose the court depending on the value of the consideration.
To ensure the rightful and speedy resolution of all the consumer complaints, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 has a three-tier redressal system on which it operates.
The three layers of the redressal system are:
- The District Forum at District Level: The jurisdiction of this forum entertains complains of value equal to or less than INR 20 Lacs.
- State Commission at the state level: The jurisdiction of this forum entertains complains of value equal to or less than INR One crores.
- National Commission at National level: The jurisdiction of this forum entertains complains of value more than Rs. 1 Crores.
Each of these forums has to provide the resolution within thirty days failing to which the consumer can escalate the complaint to the next commission.
- After choosing the court, the statutory fees are to be deposited while filing the complaint.
- If one is not satisfied with the verdict of these forums, they have an option to apply for a revision to the honorable Supreme Court of India.
The complaint can be filed within two years of buying or using the service.
Consumer courts may grant one or more of the following reliefs:
A) Repair of defective goods.
B) Replacement of defective goods.
C) Refund of price paid for the defective goods or service.
D) Removal of deficiency in service.
E) Refund of extra money charge.
F) Withdrawal of goods hazardous to life and safety.
G) Compensation for the loss or injury suffered by the consumer due to negligence of the opposite party.
H) Adequate cost of filing and pursuing the complaint.
I) Grant of punitive damages. Their grievances in an effective and simple manner.