OVERVIEW OF CONSUMER DISTRICT REDRESSAL FORUM
Section 9(a) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 requires every state in the country to establish in every district a District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. As per the provisions of the original Consumer Protection Act, 1986, every state government, before it could go ahead with the establishment of a District Consumer Forum, needed the prior approval of the Central Government.
However, keeping in view a large number of problems being faced by the respective state governments on various fronts while taking approval, this requirement has been dispensed with. This was done away with in the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 1993.
Jurisdiction of the district forum [sec 11(1)]
The district forum shall have jurisdiction to explain complaints where the value of goods or the services and the composition claim is not more than rupees 20lakh. Prior to the Amendment Act 2002 the district forum’s jurisdiction was up to to rupees five lakh only. The increase in jurisdiction was beneficial for the complaints.
Territorial jurisdiction [sec 11(2)]
A complaint shall be instituted in district forum within the local limits of whose jurisdiction-
- i) the opposite party or each of the opposite party where there are more than one , at a time of the institution of complaint actually and voluntarily resides a carrier on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain.
- ii) any of the opposite party voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally work for gain in such cases it is necessary that there should be the district forum or the acquiescence in the institution of the suit of the such a opposite party who do not reside or carry on business or have a brench office or personally work for gain.
iii) the cause of action wholly or partly arise.
Conduct of proceeding and quorum:
The consumer protection Act makes the following provision regarding the conduct of the proceeding of district forum:-
1.every proceeding referred to in sec14(1)shall be conducted by the president of the district forum and at least one member thereof sitting together. However where the member for any reason is unable to conduct the proceeding till it is complete the president and the other member shall conduct such conduct proceedings.
- every order made by the district forum mentioned above shall be signed by its president and the member who conducted proceeding provided that where the proceeding is conducted by president and one member of forum and if their opinion are different from each other on certain point then they have to mention they have the different opinion.
- The procedure relating to conduct of the meeting of the district forum its sitting and other matters shall be such as may be prescribe by the state government
From the provision contained in sec. 14(2) and sec14(2a), it is evident that
- the proceeding are to be conducted by the president of the district forum and at least one member there of sitting together
2.the order of the district forum is to be signed by its president and the member or members who conducted the proceeding-
Provided that where the proceeding is conducted by president and one of the member and if they opinion of on any point ,they shall refer the same on those points to the other member for hearing such point or points and the opinion of the majority shall be the he order of the district forum
When there is no quorum required by sec. 14(2) for the proceeding for the forum it may be adjourned by the reader of the court or a member or president sitting singly. There is nothing wrong in a single member adjourned the case for want of quorum.
Appeal from district forum to state commission (sec15)
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 30 days from the date of the order in such from and manner as may be prescribed. The state commission may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period of 30 days if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filling it within that period
In Mr. Raju Thomas v National Insurance co.Ltd it was held that In the case a complaint is dismissed for default the district forum is empowered to restore the complaint .the remedy of the petitioner is to file appeal under sec15.
Writ petition against district forums order:
There is no reason to say that writ petition under art226 of Indian constitution is not at all maintainable against an order of consumer dispute redressal forum established under sec9 of Consumer Protection Ac t 1986.
The culcutta high court in Garh-Moyna krishi unnayam samiti Ltd. V state of west Bengal (AIR 2008) explain that :
“The forum established under sec 9 of the Consumer Protection Ac t 1986 is the lowest agency in hierarchical quasi-judicial machinery set up by the Act for speedy and simple redressal of consumer disputes , it is a quasi-judicial body. Therefore against an order of district forum a writ petition under art226 can be filed before high court. But that is only in a very exceptional case. It should be entertained only when the person approaching the writ court for no fault of his own is deprived of the remedies of appeal and revision provided by the provisions under sec15 and sec17 of Consumer Protection Ac t 1986. “
At the base are District Forums to be set up by each State in every district, vested with jurisdiction to entertain and dispose of complaints involving valuation up to Rs. 5 lack. These Forums are presided over by either a serving / retired District Judge. It has two other members one of whom should be a woman social worker and the other person well-versed in education, trade or commerce.
The very purpose of enacting the Consumer Protection Act 1986 is to provide speedy and economic relief to the grievances of consumers whereas the present scenario in the district is not that much commendable. The producers/ providers of service in the District /State/National commission must realize that their activities based on social responsiveness to the consumer needs would be highly appreciate
Author: Amey Jadhav,
Maharashtra National Law University, Aurangabad/ 1st year