The Consumer Protection Act mandates establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at the Center as well as in each State and District, with a view to promoting consumer awareness.
The Central Council is headed by Minster In-charge of the Department of Consumer Affairs in the Central Government and the State Councils by the Minister In-charge of the Consumer Affairs in the State Governments. It also provides for a 3-tier structure of the National, State Commissions and District Forums for speedy resolution of consumer disputes.
To provide inexpensive, speedy and summary redressal of consumer disputes, quasi-judicial bodies have been set up in each District and State and at the national level, called the District Forums, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission respectively. At present, there are 604 District Forums and 34 State Commissions with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) at the apex. NCDRC has its office at Janpath Bhawan, A Wing, 5th Floor, Janpath, New Delhi.
Each District Forum is headed by a person who is or has been or is eligible to be appointed as a District Judge and each State Commission is headed by a person who is or has been a Judge of High Court.
The National Commission was constituted in the year 1988. It is headed by a sitting or retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
The statutory powers and jurisdiction of the three are summarized here.
The jurisdiction of consumer court is universal and covers public, private and cooperative sectors. In spite of great reluctance and resistance from well-entrenched bureaucracies in Railways and Telecommunication departments, they have all come under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act of consumer courts. Likewise, the services of doctors, lawyers and others, as also public hospitals and housing sector also fall within the reach of the Consumer Courts.
Business or commercial disputes are not entertained in Consumer Courts, though a purchaser of a machine for self-employment can approach the Consumer Court. Otherwise, only consumers of goods or services can approach the consumer court for compensation against defect in a product or deficiency in service. Consumers of totally free services, e.g., a charitable dispensary, cannot approach the court.Category: Redressal Basics