Consumer disputes redressal mechanism under the consumer protection act, 1986
Meaning of consumer as per consumer protection act 1986
As per section 2(1)(d) a consumer is someone who
- Buys any goods for consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised or under any system of deferred payment and include any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised or under any system of deferred payment when such use is made with the approval of such person but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purposes or
- Hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such other than the person who hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised under any system of deferred payment when such services are availed of with the approval of the first-mentioned person but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial purposes.
Let’s say Mr. X goes to an electronic shop and buys a mobile phone for his son Y for the consideration of 10 thousand so in the present case the final consumer of the mobile phone is not Mr. X himself but his son Y as per the definition of consumer protection act 1986
Thus, to call oneself a consumer these criteria must be fulfilled
- The goods are bought for consideration
- Any person who uses the goods with the approval of the buyer is a consumer
- Any person who obtains the goods for resale or commercial purposes is not a consumer.
Consumer dispute redressal mechanism in India
So basically, there are three hierarchies of redressal forums that we have where consumers can file a case if they feel that they got cheated in any way. These are
- District forums
- State commission
- National commission
District forums are set up by the state government in every district belonging to that
state. For example, the Bihar government is responsible for setting up a district forum in every district belonging to Bihar.
According to section 10 of the consumer protection act 1986
- Any person who is or has been or qualified to be a district judge to be nominated by the state government to be its president.
- Two other members who shall be a person of ability, integrity, and standing and have adequate knowledge and experience or at least ten years in dealing with problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs, or administration one of whom shall be a woman.
The appointment shall be made by the state government on the recommendation of a selection committee consisting
- The president of the state commission
- Secretary law department of the state
- Secretary in charge of the department dealing with consumer affairs in the state.
The tenure of members of the district forum is 5 years or up to the age of 65 years whichever is earlier. The complaint value up to 20 lakhs can be filed in the district forum.
State commission is set up in every state by the respective state governments. Usually, these commissions are in the capital of respective states.
Section 15 of the state commission states that
- Any person aggrieved by an order made by the District Forum may prefer an appeal against such order to the State Commission within a period of thirty days from the date of the order, in such form and manner as may be prescribed. Provided that the State Commission may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period of thirty days if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing it within that period.
- Provided further that no appeal by a person, who is required to pay any amount in terms of an order of the District Forum, shall be entertained by the State Commission unless the appellant has deposited in the prescribed manner fifty percent of that amount or twenty-five thousand rupees, whichever is less.
Each state commission shall contain
- A person who has been judge of high court appointed by the state government in consultation with the chief justice of the high court
- Two or more another member who shall be a person of ability, integrity, and standing and have adequate knowledge and experience or at least ten years in dealing with a problem relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs, or administration one of whom shall be a woman.
Tenure of a member of state commission shall be 5 years or up to the age of 67 years whichever is earlier. A case that has a monetary value between 20 lakhs to 1 crore can be filed before the state commission.
The national commission is established by the central government. If the party is unsatisfied with the decision of the national commission further, he can approach the supreme court of India and its decision would be final.
The national forum consists of
- A person who is or has been a judge of the supreme court to be appointed by the central government by consulting the chief justice of India.
- Four or more member who shall be a person of ability, integrity, and standing and have adequate knowledge and experience or at least ten years in dealing with problem relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs, or administration one of whom shall be a woman.
The national commission has the power to review any order made by it in case there is an error on the face of the record. Complaints having a monetary value of more than 1 crore can be filed before the national commission.
According to section 24A of the consumer protection Act the district forum, the state commission, and the national commission shall not entertain a complaint that has been filed after the 2 years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen. A complaint may however be entertained if there is sufficient cause for the delay. The forum or commission must record the reason for the delay in filing the complaint.
Author: Rohit Soni,
NMIMS Kirit P Mehta School of Law, First year student