In 1986, one of the major steps taken by the Indian Parliament was to pass the landmark Consumer Protection Act later which was amended in 2019 is a milestone in the history of socio-economic legislation, so that public welfare can be achieved, enabling consumers to participate directly in the market. It was enacted to provide better protection of the interest of the consumer, it applies to all goods and services and discovers all the sectors basically it is the weapon in the hands of consumer to fight against exploitation by traders, manufacturers, and sellers on one hand and provide service on the other. It provides redressal to the grievance of the consumer and makes provision for the establishment of a consumer council and other quasi-judicial authorities for consumer dispute settlement.

It provides consumers with the following rights-

Right to Safety, be Informed, Choose, be Heard, Redressal & Consumer Education.

The act even provides for the establishment of the Consumer Protection Council at the center, state, and district levels to assess government policies and recommend enhancements for safeguarding consumer rights. Additionally, it institutes a central consumer protection authority, helmed by a chief commissioner & supported by a designated commissioner, tasked with overseeing procedural frameworks & addressing consumer grievances on unfair trade practices or misleading advertising. This authority is vested with the responsibility to uphold, promote, and enforce consumer rights, curtail violations thereof, and uphold adherence to the statutory provisions of the act.

Structure of redressal mechanism

Hence, a consumer complaint may be lodged in various instances of unfair or restrictive trade practices by the trader, the presence of multiple defects in purchased goods, deficiencies in service provided, overcharging beyond prescribed limits, the sale of hazardous goods endangering consumer safety, violation of legal provisions in sales, or the failure to provide essential product information. The pivotal first step in addressing such grievances and seeking recourse is the issuance of a formal legal notice to the trader. This notice offers the trader an opportunity to rectify the situation by either replacing the product/ service or providing full compensation for any incurred losses. In the event of non-compliance or disregard of the legal notice by the trader, the consumer is fully entitled to seek a remedy through the consumer courts.

As a matter of fact, everyone is not eligible to file a complaint due to the many clauses available in the act, hence it is important to know who can file a complaint-                          

Under the law, the following can file a consumer complaint:

  • A consumer as defined in the act.
  • A voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act,1956/2013, or under any such law for the time being in force.
  • Any state or central government
  • When more than one consumer has the same interest then all the consumers.
  • In case of the death of a consumer, the legal representatives

However, no complaint can be filed in case of a complaint on behalf of public consisting of unidentifiable consumer or complaint filed by an unregistered association. But one should remember that there is a limitation period of 2 years from the date of cause in filing a consumer complaint that it is advisable to file a complaint at the earliest so that there is less delay and as we all know justice delay is justice denied so hence it will reduced the possibility of expected compensation, however in extraordinary cases where the complainant has bona fide evidence to prove that there was sufficient cause of delay in filing the complaint, then the court may permit it.

Procedure to file a consumer complaint:

  1. The primary step towards any kind of civil litigation or dispute is to send a legal notice to the accused party before initiating a formal proceeding. This step is crucial for aggrieved consumers. A legal notice serves to ascertain whether the accused party acknowledged fault and is willing to provide compensation for any incurred losses. If the accused party fails to respond or refuses to comply with the demands outlined in the notice within 30 days, the aggrieved consumer retains the right to file a lawsuit & seek redress through the appropriate legal channels, such as a court or commission.
  2. Once, the accused fails to reply to the legal notice, the fooling steps for the complainant is to first identify the jurisdiction of the forum where the complaint must be filed by considering the pecuniary as well as territorial jurisdiction of the tribunal.
  3. A consumer complaint must be introduced in a district, state, or national commission within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the accused party resides or manages its business or has a subsidiary office or privately works for gain or in case there is more than 1 accused party, then the jurisdiction can be where any 1 party reside or manages its business or has a subsidiary office or privately work for gain.
  4. According to the act, a standard fee is to be paid along with the consumer complaint before the district, state, or national commission wherever the case may be applicable.
  5. The complainant with or without legal aid, must carefully draft the consumer complaint, including all relevant details & evidence, and sign it. If someone else files the complaint on behalf of the complainant, an authorization letter is necessary. Additionally, the complainant should identify the accused party’s name, address, and description.
  6. The complainant must attach all the supporting documents with the complaint which must include a copy of the invoice of the goods/services purchased by the complainant from the accused, a document of warranty and guarantee, a copy of the written complaint, and the legal notice sent earlier to the accused party.
  7. In the complaint, the complainant must explicitly mention and describe the compensation cost. Along with the cost, he has the right to request a refund of the goods and services, cost against damages to products, cost of litigation, and some additional amount of interest.
  8. What relief/compensation is the complainant seeking from the accused party should be thoroughly mentioned.
  9. The complainant must furnish the affidavit along with the complaint explaining the facts and evidence provided in the complaint are entirely true and correct.
  10. The complaint can be presented by the complainant in person or by her/his authorized representative without hiring a lawyer or by his/her lawyer.
  11. A complainant can send a complaint by registered post; the postal receipt must be saved for future reference and a minimum of 5 copies of the complaint must be filed in the forum and additional copies for each accused party.

By doing so the cases are reviewed in which parties to the dispute request for a formal replacement to an official order of a court. Every appeal functions as both a procedure to correct and rectify the error as well as a procedure to appropriately clarify and interpret the law in discussion.

As well as,, & are the websites where a person can find all the relevant information regarding consumer protection or one can contact district collector and the chairman, district consumer protection council and also any voluntary consumer organization of locality with valid reputation.

Author: Esha Gandhi (Intern)

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