Three-tier Grievances Redressal Machinery

The CPA provides for a 3 tier approach in resolving consumer disputes. The District Forum has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods / services complained against and the compensation claimed is less than Rs. 5 lakhs, the State Commission for claims exceeding Rs. 5 lakhs but not exceeding Rs. 20 lakhs and the National Commission for claims exceeding Rs. 20 lakhs.

Consumer courts have been established so that the consumers can enjoy their rights. This Act presents Three- tier Grievances Redressal Machinery:

(i) At District Level-District Forum

(ii) At State Level -State Commission

(iii) At National Level – National Commission.

 

 (i) At District Level-District Forum

Under the CPA, the State Government has to set up a district Forum in each district of the State. The Government may establish more than one District Forum in a district if it deems fit. Each District Forum consists of :-

(a) a person who is, or who has been, or is qualified to be, a District Judge who shall be its President

(b) two other members who shall be persons of ability, integrity and standing and have adequate knowledge or experience of or have shown capacity in dealing with problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration, one of whom shall be a woman.

Appointments to the State Commission shall be made by the State Government on the recommendation of a Selection Committee consisting of the President of the State Committee, the Secretary – Law Department of the State and the secretary in charge of Consumer Affairs

Every member of the District Forum holds office for 5 years or upto the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier and is not eligible for re-appointment. A member may resign by giving notice in writing to the State Government whereupon the vacancy will be filled up by the State Government.

The District Forum can entertain complaints where the value of goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed is less than rupees five lakhs. However, in addition to jurisdiction over consumer goods services valued upto Rs. 5 lakhs, the District Forum also may pass orders against traders indulging in unfair trade practices, sale of defective goods or render deficient services provided the turnover of goods or value of services does not exceed rupees five lakhs.

A complaint shall be instituted in the District Forum within the local limits of whose jurisdiction –

(a) the opposite party or the defendant actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain at the time of institution of the complaint; or

(b) any one of the opposite parties (where there are more than one) actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, at the time of institution of the complaint provided that the other opposite party/parties acquiescence in such institution or the permission of the Forum is obtained in respect of such opposite parties; or

(c) the cause of action arises, wholly or in part.

(ii) At State Level -State Commission

The Act provides for the establishment of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission by the State Government in the State by notification. Each State Commission shall consist of:-

(a) a person who is or has been a judge of a High Court appointed by State Government (in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court ) who shall be its President;

(b) two other members who shall be persons of ability, integrity, and standing and have adequate knowledge or experience of, or have shown capacity in dealing with, problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration, one of whom must be a woman.

Every appointment made under this hall be made by the State Government on the recommendation of a Selection Committee consisting of the President of the State Commission, Secretary -Law Department of the State and Secretary in charge of Consumer Affairs in the State.

Every member of the District Forum holds office for 5 years or upto the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier and is not eligilbe for re-appointment. A member may resign by giving notice in writing to the State Government whereupon the vacancy will be filled up by the State Government.

The State Commission can entertain complaints where the value of goods or services and the compensation, if any claimed exceed Rs. 5 lakhs but does not exceed Rs. 20 lakhs;

The State Commission also has the jurisdiction to entertain appeal against the orders of any District Forum within the State

The State Commission also has the power to call for the records and appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any District Forum within the State if it appears that such District Forum has exercised any power not vested in it by law or has failed to exercise a power rightfully vested in it by law or has acted illegally or with material irregularity.

(iii) At National Level – National Commission.

The Central Government provides for the establishment of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission The National Commission shall consist of :-

(a) a person who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court, to be appoint by the Central Government (in consultation with the Chief Justice of India ) who be its President;

(b) four other members who shall be persons of ability, integrity and standing and have adequate knowledge or experience of, or have shown capacity in dealing with, problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration, one of whom shall be a woman

Appointments shall be by the Central Government on the recommendation of a Selection Committee consisting of a Judge of the Supreme Court to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India, the Secretary in the Department of Legal Affairs and the Secretary in charge of Consumer Affairs in the Government of India.

Every member of the National Commission shall hold office for a term of five years or upto seventy years of age, whichever is earlier and shall not be eligible for reappointment.

The National Commission shall have jurisdiction :-

a. to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees twenty lakhs:

b. to entertain appeals against the orders of any State Commission; and

c. to call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before, or has been decided by any State Commission where it appears to the National Commission that such Commission has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested, or has acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.

Complaints may be filed with the District Forum by :-

1. the consumer to whom such goods are sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or such service provided or agreed to be provided

2. any recognised consumer association, whether the consumer to whom goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or service provided or agreed to be provided, is a member of such association or not

3. one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest with the permission of the District Forum, on behalf of or for the benefit of, all consumers so interested

4. the Central or the State Government.

On receipt of a complaint, a copy of the complaint is to be referred to the opposite party, directing him to give his version of the case within 30 days. This period may be extended by another 15 days. If the opposite party admits the allegations contained in the complaint, the complaint will be decided on the basis of materials on the record. Where the opposite party denies or disputes the allegations or omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time provided, the dispute will be settled in the following manner :-

I. In case of dispute relating to any goods : Where the complaint alleges a defect in the goods which cannot be determined without proper analysis or test of the goods, a sample of the goods shall be obtained from the complainant, sealed and authenticated in the manner prescribed for referring to the appropriate laboratory for the purpose of any analysis or test whichever may be necessary, so as to find out whether such goods suffer from any other defect. The appropriate laboratory’ would be required to report its finding to the referring authority, i.e. the District Forum or the State Commission within a period of forty- five days from the receipt of the reference or within such extended period as may be granted by these agencies.

Appropriate laboratory means a laboratory or organisation:-

(i) recognised by the Central Government;

(ii) recognised by a State Government, subject to such guidelines as may be prescribed by the Central Government

(iii) any such laboratory or organisation established by or under any law for the time being in force, which is maintained, financed or aided by the Central Government or a State Government for carrying out analysis or test of any goods with a view to determining whether such goods suffer from any defect.

The District Forum / State Commission may require the complainant to deposit with it such amount as may be specified towards payment of fees to the appropriate laboratory for carrying out the tests. On receipt of the report, a copy thereof is to be sent by District Forum/State Commission to the opposite party along with its own remarks.

In case any of the parties disputes the correctness of the methods of analysis/test adopted by the appropriate laboratory, the concerned party will be required to submit his objections in writing in regard to the report. After giving both the parties a reasonable opportunity of being heard and to present their objections, if any, the District Forum/Slate Commission shall pass appropriate orders.

II. In case of dispute relating to goods not requiring testing or analysis or relating to services: Where the opposite party denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint within the time given by the District Forum / State Commission, it shall dispose of the complaint on the basis of evidence tendered by the parties. In case of failure by the opposite party to represent his case within the prescribed time, the complaint shall be disposed of on the basis of evidence tendered by the complainant.

Consumer Protection Council:

To favor consumer protection and to encourage consumer’s awareness there is a provision in this Act to establish Consumer Protection Councils.