The procedure for filing a complaint and seeking redressal is simple. A complaint can be filed either in National Commission, State Commission or District Forum depending on the total amount of money involved as costs and compensation. Filing fee for a consumer dispute complaint also depends on the value of goods, service and compensation claimed by complainant.
At the District Forum, Rs. 100 is charged for up to Rs. 1 lakh; Rs. 200 for Rs. 1 lakh and above but less than Rs. 5 lakh; Rs. 400 for Rs. 5 lakh and above but less than Rs. 10 lakh; and Rs. 500 for Rs. 10 lakh and above but less than Rs. 20 lakh. At the State Commission, Rs. 500 is charged for Rs. 20 lakh and above but less than Rs.50 lakh; Rs. 2000 for Rs. 50 lakh and above but less than Rs. 1 crore and at National Commission, Rs. 5000 is charged for Rs. 1 crore and above. The fee is required to be deposited at the time of filing the complaint.
The complainant or his authorized agent are required to submit in person three to five copies of the complaint on plain paper (depending on the number or opposite parties) with all the essential information, along with supporting papers and correspondence, and also specifying the amount of compensation demanded. Application can also be sent by post to the appropriate Forum/Commission.
Beside this, the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission shall not admit a complaint unless it is filed within two years from the date on which cause of action has arisen. If admitted, the court will issue a notice to the opponent or opponents who are expected to reply within 30 days. The case can be argued personally. There is no need to appoint a lawyer, though lawyers are allowed to appear before consumer courts.
A case is supposed to be decided within 90 days but, if testing of a product is required, it may take up to 150 days. Only one adjournment is allowed during the trial. Unfortunately, many courts give adjournments overlooking this rule, which becomes a major factor for delays in consumer courts.
However, in most cases the consumer gets justice in the end because he approaches the court only when the quality of goods and services is sub-standard. Depending on the facts and circumstances, the Redressal Forums give order for removal of defects from the goods or services; replacement of the goods; refund of the price paid; award of compensation for the loss or injury suffered and discontinuance of unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or direction not to repeat them. The order of Consumer Court is enforceable by invoking Section 27, whereby a fine and imprisonment are prescribed on defaulters.Category: Redressal Basics