How to file a Complaint under the new Consumer Protection Act, 2019
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 that was passed on 7th August 2019, protects the interests of consumers and aims at establishing authorities to address the grievances of the consumers and settle consumer-related disputes. The authorities will also provide timely and effective redressal of consumer disputes. In the case of grievances, consumers can file a complaint in the manner laid down under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
Section 2 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 defines a ‘complaint’ as any written allegation made by a consumer to obtain relief under the Consumer Protection Act in the case of an unfair contract, unfair trade practice, restrictive trade practice, defective goods, deficiency of services or hazardous goods or service. A complaint may also include a written allegation to claim liability against the product manufacturer, seller, or service provider.
One or more consumers can file a consumer complaint; any registered voluntary consumer association, the Central or State Government, heirs, or legal representatives of the consumer. Where the consumer is a minor, his parent or legal guardian can file the complaint.
A Consumer Complaint can be made either in a written manner or in electronic mode to the District Collector, the Commissioner of the regional office, or the Central Authority. In the case of violation of consumer rights, a complainant can approach the District Forum, State Commission, or the National Commission. Also, if the complainant is not satisfied with the order passed by a Consumer Court, he can file an appeal in the higher Court.
Jurisdiction of Consumer Forums:
The consumer should file his complaint to a consumer forum, which has both territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction to decide the matter.
Complaint should be instituted with a district forum (Section 11), state commission (Section 17), or national commission (Section 21) within the local limits of whose jurisdiction.
The opposite party or in case of more than one opposite party, one of the opposite parties resides or carries on business or personally works for gain.
Consumer complaints can be filed with respect to the claim value enumerated as below:
District forum – up to 1 crore
State Commission – 1 crore to 10 crores
National Commission – more than 10 crores
The award pronounced by the national commission can be challenged before the Supreme Court.
Court Fees for a consumer complaint under Consumer Protection Law:
As per the Consumer Protection (twenty-second amendment) Rules, 2018, the fee structure for filing a consumer complaint has been revised as per the following:
1. Cases of value up to Rs. 5 Lakh- No fee.
2. Cases of the value of Rs. 5 Lakh-10 Lakh- Rs 200
3. Cases of value exceeding Rs 10 Lakh- Rs 400
A complainant is not required to pay any fee for filing an appeal in the State Commission or National Commission.
Process to file a consumer complaint in District Forum:
1. A consumer complaint shall be made in writing to a District Forum. The complaint can be written on a plain paper and filed by the consumer himself or through an authorized agent.
2. The complaint should be notarized through a registered or regular post. It should be filed within 2 years of the date on which the dispute arose. The complainant is required to file four copies of the complaint and additional copies for each opposite party.
3. The consumer complaint shall include the details of the complainant and the opposite party along with the particulars of the dispute and the relief to be sought. Also, copies of relevant documents required proving the claim mentioned in the complaint shall be attached to the complaint.
4. It is not necessary to approach an advocate to file a consumer complaint.
5. The fee shall be paid in demand draft to the President, Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, (name of) district.
As per Section 35; Manner in which complaint shall be made in District Forum:
“(1) A complaint, in relation to any goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or any service provided or agreed to be provided, may be filed with a District Commission by—
(a) the consumer,—
(i) to whom such goods are sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or
delivered or such service is provided or agreed to be provided; or
(ii) who alleges unfair trade practice in respect of such goods or service;
(b) any recognized consumer association, whether the consumer to whom such goods are sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or such service is provided or agreed to be provided, or who alleges unfair trade practice in respect of such goods or service, is a member of such association or not;
(c) one or more consumers, where numerous consumers are having the same interest, with the permission of the District Commission, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, all consumers so interested; or
(d) the Central Government, the Central Authority or the State Government, as the case may be:
Provided that the complaint under this subsection may be filed electronically in such a manner as may be prescribed.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this sub-section, "recognized consumer association" means any voluntary consumer association registered under any law for the time being in force.
(2) Every complaint filed under sub-section (1) shall be accompanied with such fee and payable in such manner, including electronic form, as may be prescribed.”
As per Section 37; Reference to mediation:
“(1) At the first hearing of the complaint after its admission, or at any later stage, if it appears to the District Commission that there exists elements of a settlement which may be acceptable to the parties, except in such cases as may be prescribed, it may direct the parties to give in writing, within five days, consent to have their dispute settled by mediation in accordance with the provisions of Chapter V.
(2) Where the parties agree for settlement by mediation and give their consent in writing, the District Commission shall, within five days of receipt of such consent, refer the matter for mediation, and in such case, the provisions of Chapter V, relating to mediation, shall apply.”
Process to file a consumer complaint in State Commission:
1. A consumer complaint in State Forum can be filed if the value of goods or services exceeds Rs 1 Crore but less than Rs 10 Crore. One can also file an appeal in the State Commission against the order of the District Forum within a period of 45 days from the date of order.
2. The application shall accompany the requisite fee in the form of demand draft payable to the Registrar, (name of) State Commission in the respective state.
3. To file an appeal in the State Commission, the complainant should attach the following documents along with the complaint:
I. Documents of record constituting correct names and addresses of all the parties.
II. A certified copy of the order of the District Forum against which an appeal is to be filed.
III. There should be more than four additional copies of the appeal for each respondent.
IV. Any order of conditional delay, interim order or other petitions accompanied by an affidavit.
V. Opposite parties or the appellant is required to pay a statutory deposit of Rs 25,000 or 50 per cent of the amount claimed, whichever is less.
As per Section 49; Procedure applicable to State Commission:
“(1) The provisions relating to complaints under sections 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39 shall, with such modifications as may be necessary, be applicable to the disposal of complaints by the State Commission.
(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub-section (1), the State Commission may also declare any terms of contract, which is unfair to any consumer, to be null and void.”
Process to file a consumer complaint in National Commission:
1. Consumer complaint cases with value more than Rs 10 Crore should be directly filed in the National Consumer Disputed Redressal Commission. A consumer aggrieved by the order of the State Commission can also file an appeal in the National Commission. The appeal should be filed within 30 days from the date of the order passed by the State Commission.
2. The fee for approaching National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission is Rs. 5000 which is payable as demand draft in the name of the Registrar, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
3. An appeal against the order of the National Commission can be filed in the Supreme Court within one month from the date of order passed by the National Commission.
Process to file Online Consumer Complaint:
1. A consumer can be filed both offline as well as online manner. A consumer complaint can be filed online by registering on the website of the national consumer helpline https://consumerhelpline.gov.in/. A complainant can register himself as a consumer by filling in the required details such as name, email, contact number, and a password.
2. After registration, the consumer can log in with the help of login details and passwords. Then, the consumer should click on ‘register your complaint’ and should further fill the details regarding the complaint and upload the required documents. There are different grievance portals in different sectors.
3. Once the complainant registers itself as a consumer, he can also call on the National Consumer Helpline number 1800-11-4000 or 14404 to register his complaint or send a message on 8130009809.
4. A complainant can also register his grievance through the NCH app, Consumer app, or the UMANG app.
5. The complainant will be provided with a unique id after registering the complainant. With the help of this unique id, the consumer can track the status of his complaint.
6. The required fee for the consumer complainant can be paid through an online payment gateway.
Following details needs to be mentioned in complaint by the consumer:
1. Name and complete details of the complainant and opposite party or parties.
2. Date and time of purchase of goods or services availed and the amount paid for them.
3. Particulars of dispute; like a defect in goods or inferior quality of service etc.
4. Particulars of the relief sought in the complaint.
5. Particulars of goods purchased with numbers or details of services availed.
6. Copies of all those documents can be attached which support the contention of consumer and are necessary to establish the cause of action like a copy of bills of goods bought or service availed, warranty receipt, copy of the complaint made to trader asking to compensate for the loss.
Limitation period as per Section 69 of the Act:
The District Commission, the State Commission or the National Commission shall not admit a complaint unless it is filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen. However, a complaint may be entertained after the period specified in sub-section (1), if the complainant satisfies the District Commission, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, that he had sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within such period.
It is also Provided that no such complaint shall be entertained unless the District Commission or the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, records its reasons for condoning such delay.
Penalty for Non- Compliance of order as per Section 72 of the Act:
(1) Whoever fails to comply with any order made by the District Commission or the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one month, but which may extend to three years, or with fine, which shall not be less than twenty-five thousand rupees, but which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the District Commission, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, shall have the power of a Judicial Magistrate of first-class for the trial of offences under sub-section (1), and on conferment of such powers, the District Commission or the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, shall be deemed to be a Judicial Magistrate of first-class for the purposes of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
(3) Save as otherwise provided, the offenses under subsection (1) shall be tried summarily by the District Commission or the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be.