Consumer Court Procedure
Where to file a Consumer Complaint
Following is an outline of the procedure for filing a complaint before the District Forum or the State Commission. We have attempted to give simple information and key pointers, but you may consult the Consumer Protection Act for further details.
If the relief claimed in the complaint is less than Rs. 20,00,000/-, then the complaint must be filed before the District Consumer Forum. If the relief claimed is between Rs. 20,00,000/- and Rs. 1,00,00,000/-, then the complaint must be filed before the State Commission. When the relief claim exceeds Rs. 1,00,00,000/- then the complaint must be filed before the National Commission at New Delhi. The jurisdiction of the tribunal - where the opposite party resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works within the jurisdiction of the Forum or where the cause of action (for defective, spurious, fake, substandard or dangerous goods OR deficient or delayed services or services not carried out OR for misleading advertisements OR for unfair trade practices) started within the Forum's jurisdiction. The cause of action can be defined as the factor from which this dispute arose.
is payable for filing a complaint before the District Forum, State Commission or National Commission as follows:
|Sr. No.||Total value of goods or services and the compensation claimed||Amount of fee payable.|
|(1)||Upto one lakh Rupees - For complaints who are under the Below Poverty Line holding Antyodaya Anna Yojana cards.||Nil|
|(2)||Upto one lakh Rupees - For complaints other than Antyodaya Anna Yojana Card holders||Rs. 100|
|(3)||Above one lakh and upto five lakh Rupees||Rs. 200|
|(4)||Above five lakh and upto ten lakh Rupees||Rs. 300|
|(5)||Above ten lakh and upto twenty lakh Rupees||Rs. 400|
|(6)||Above twenty lakh and upto fifty lakh Rupees||Rs. 2000|
|(7)||Above fifty lakh and upto one crore Rupees||Rs. 4000|
|(8)||Above one crore rupees||Rs. 5000|
You can pay this by Demand Draft in favour of "President, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
3. The complainant can present his / her complaint in person or by his / her authorized representative to the District Forum / State Commission. There is no requirement for a lawyer or consumer group to represent the complainant.
4. The complaint can be sent by Registered Post to the District Forum/ State Commission. A minimum of 5 copies of the complaint have to be filed. This includes three copies for the Forum [in green (Court) paper] plus one for the Office of the Forum and one for the opposite party. Do remember to keep one copy for yourself. An additional copy for each additional opposite party has to be filed. Since the Forum / Commission have the power to pass ex parte orders or dismiss your complaint, please ensure that you carry out regular follow-up after filing the complaint. Every hearing date has to be attended to prevent any damage to the complaint.
5. The complaint should be signed by you, the complainant. If you are authorizing some one to represent you, give him / her a signed authorization letter. In the event of the death of a complainant, his/her legal heir or representative can continue as a complainant.
The relief which the complainant is seeking: here state whether you want removal of defects, replacement of goods, refund of excess price, refund of charges paid for deficient services, cessation of unfair trade practice, correction of misleading advertisements etc. apart from damages and costs of filing the complaint. You are also entitled to claim the costs of your complaint from the opposite party. Hence include that amount in your complaint.
Documents required to file consumer complaint
Before a consumer complaint can be filed against a company, you need to ensure that you have all the supporting documentation that you need. These may include the following documents related to the purchase of the product from the company:
- 1. An invoice or bill for the purchase (Preferably with an invoice number and Tax ID of the company)
- 2. Warranty card for products and SLA for services (This is optional)
- 3. Proof of payment such as copy of the cheque or credit card statement (This is optional)
- 4. Any other communication or record from the company that can show negligence, insensitivity or lack of attention from the company (Telephone call logs made to the company with long wait times, letters from company expressing uncaring attitude etc.)
- 5. The registered address of the company. You should be able to find this either in the above documentation, website of the company or from third party sources such as directories. In case you cannot get a copy of the bill, do not worry or feel helpless. Most of the billed purchases are entered into the ledger and accounting books of the company. So when you reach a court, you may be able to retrieve the purchase information from the company's accounting system merely by quoting the serial number of the product that you purchased or even an approximate purchase date.
Send a Notice to company
In this step, you will be required to "officially" notify the company of your grievance. Be detailed about what it is that you are complaining about and what you expect the company to do. Be fair in your demands to the company. For example, if a product you purchased for Rs.15000/- is broken due to no fault of yours, ask to either replace the product or refund Rs.15000/- + a small additional sum for any inconveniences caused; do not place unreasonable demands for Rs.50000/- or so :. You are also entitled to ask for interest on any amount paid, if you think you are eligible for it.
Also, when it comes to making demands, be sure to give the company more than one option. For example, company policy might prevent them from giving you a full refund, but they may be open to giving you a replacement product that is superior to the one you purchased. In other words, the more options you give the company, the better your chances are to get your grievance addressed without going to court. When you think of the hassles of going to court, being flexible here will ultimately help you out a lot!
Your notice can be printed in English on a regular A4 size page, signed by you and sent by post to the registered address of the company. Be sure to use either registered post with acknowledgement due or speed post with tracking feature. This is important as you will need legal proof that the company has received your notice.
File Your Complaint
There are several actions involved in this step as listed below:
- 1. Along with your complaint and the affidavit, attach a list of documents you are submitting as part of the complaint file. You will need to attach copies of the evidentiary documents. Makesure that you attach only photocopies of the evidentiary documents and not the original. You may also need to sign and attach a Vakalatnama, which is similar to a power of attorney authorizing your lawyer to represent you in court on this case, (if you are hiring a lawyer).
- 2. You will need to approach a Notary and get your complaint file and the affidavit notarized. You will require to show a proof of identification such as your driver's license, PAN card, passport, ration card or election ID. You will then need to the sign the complaint and the affidavit in front of the Notary after which he/she will notarize the document with his/her Notary seal and signature. Notarization is a process by which the consumer court can ascertain that you are the person you claim you are and that you have actually signed the complaint.
- 3. You will then be required to make a specific number of copies of the complaint. In most cases, you will need to make a total of five copies including three for the court, one for the court to send to the company and one for yourself.
- 4. The next action is preparing the court fee payment. Most courts accept Demand Drafts (DD) through a Nationalized Bank duly crossed, drawn in favor of the person as shown in the table as the mode of payment.( The court fee depends upon the jurisdiction of the court).
There are people who would advice you for and against hiring an advocate or lawyer to represent you. The biggest advantage or hiring a lawyer is that The advocate will know what to do. The biggest disadvantage of hiring a lawyer is that good ones don't come free. if your case is complicated, you have less time to spare and the compensation you seek is large, hire one. If your case is simple, you can spend up to 5 full days in a year for this purpose and defend your case, you are seeking low to medium compensation from the company, do it yourself.