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Consumer Protection Act. Introduction

Consumerism has out grown its commercial barriers & entered into hitherto unanticipated arenas. Besides, basic necessities, we need a variety of things in our daily lives such as cell phone, digital cameras, and many more thing. Thus, all of us are “consumers” in the literal sense of the term, When we buy things from the market as a consumer, we expect value for money, right quality, right quantity, right price, right information about the mode of use etc.

But consumerism presupposes people to make informed choice and their expectation of information are justified. In modern world which provides consumers extremely wide ranging finite products & services. But there may be instances where a consumer is cheated. In such a case, most of us don’t know to whom we should approach to seek redressal against our complaints. Many of us also don’t know our “rights” as a consumer and often hesitate to complaint or even stand up to unfair practices. We also don’t have recourse to costly litigation to seek justice & we continue to bear such injustice.

In view of widespread exploitation of consumer by traders & service providers it was felt all over the world that consumer needed protection from powerful lobby of business.

The most important legislation in India that provides a direct relief & gives protection to the consumer is “The Consumer Protection Act 1986” a landmark welfare legislation.

Its here that the consumer forums exist which can help you seek justice against unfair trade practices without incurring exorbitant litigation cost. Since “justice delayed is justice denied”, the consumer gets real justice only by a speedy relief, that too without much hassle.

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"Preamble" (Scope of the Act)

The Act seeks to promote & protect the interests of consumers against deficiencies & defects in Goods & Services, in case of personal consumption. It covers all goods & services whether of Private, Public or Co-operative sector; including E-commerce.

It Confers 6 rights on consumers:-

  1. Right to Safety against hazardous Practices
  2. Right to Information
  3. Right to Choice
  4. Right to be Heard
  5. Right to Redressal
  6. Right to Consumer Education

What matters can be complaint against?

  1. Defects in Goods purchased
  2. Deficiency in Services hired
  3. Unfair/Restrictive trade practices.
  4. Excessive Price.
  5. Goods and services hazardous to life & safety and Services.

Who can benefit under the law/ who are covered under the law?

  1. All Public, Private Sector or Co-operative services/goods providers; unless specially exempted by Central Govt.
  2. Covers E-Commerce.
  3. Business-to-Customer” concept addresses i.e. personal use consumption cases & not that of commercial ones.

Beneficiaries

  1. Consumer
  2. Person using the same with purchaser’s approval.
  3. A person who hired/availed services.
  4. Beneficiary of such services with his approval.
  5. Any recognized voluntary consumer association.
  6. Central Govt. / State Govt.
  7. One or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest.
  8. Legal heir or representative of a deceased consumer.

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Jurisdiction (Where to go?)

The Act is applicable to all over India and unless specifically exempted by central Govt. to all goods & services-even that of e-commerce.

A complaint shall be filed in a consumer forum having pecuniary & territorial jurisdiction.

A complaint has to be filed in a District/ State Commission within the local limits of whose jurisdiction: –

  • Opposite party/each of opposite party at the time of institution of complaint-resides carries on business/ has a branch office/ personally works for gain.
  • More than one opposite party, if any one of them.
  • Where COA arises.

Important sections

Sec.11. Jurisdiction of the District Forum

  1. Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the District Forum shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed 1[does not exceed rupees five lakhs].
  2. A complaint shall be instituted in a District Forum within the local limits of whose jurisdiction: –
    • The opposite party or each of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides or 1[carries on business, or has a branch office or] personally works for gain; or
    • Any of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides, or 1[carries on business or has a branch office, or personally works for gain: PROVIDED that in such case either the permission of the District Forum is given, or the opposite parties who do not reside, or 1[carry on business or have a branch office, or personally work for gain, as the case may be, acquiesce in such institution; or
    • The cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.

Sec.12. Manner in which complaint shall be made





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 Forum, by: –

  1. The consumer to whom such goods are sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or such service provided or agreed to be provided;
  2. Any recognised consumers association whether the consumer to whom the goods sold or delivered or service provided or agreed to be provided is a member of such association or not; or
  3. Ane or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest, with the permission of the District Forum, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, all consumers so interested; or
  4. (d) The Central or the State Government.

Sec.11. Jurisdiction of the District Forum

Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the State Commission shall have jurisdiction: –

  1. To entertain-
    • Complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees 1[five lakhs but does not exceed rupees twenty lakhs;] and
    • Appeals against the orders of any District Forum within the State; and
  2. To call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any District Forum within the State where it appears to the State Commission that such District Forum has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested or has acted in exercise on its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.

Sec.21. Jurisdiction of the National Commission

Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the National Commission shall have jurisdiction: –

  1. To entertain: –
    • Complaints where the value of the goods or services and cornpensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees 1[twenty lakhs]; and
    • Appeals against the orders of any State Commission; and
  2. To call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any State Commission where it appears to the National Commission that such State Commission has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested, or has acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.

Sec.24. Finality of order

Every order of a District Forum, State Commission or the National Commission shall, if no appeal has been preferred against such order under the provisions of this Act, be final.

Sec.24A. Limitation period

  1. 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 the cause of action has arisen.
  2. Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), a complaint may be entertained after the period specified in sub-section (1), if the complainant satisfies the District Forum, 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:

PROVIDED that no such complaint shall be entertained unless the National Commission, the State Commission or the District Forum, as the case may be, records its reasons for condoning such delay.

Sec.27. Penalties

Where a trader or a person against whom a complaint is made 2[or the complainant] fails or omits to comply with any order made by the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, such trader or person 2[or complainant] 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 two thousand rupees but which may extend to ten thousand rupees, or with both:

PROVIDED that the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, may, if it is satisfied that the circumstances of any case so require, impose a sentence of imprisonment or fine, or both, for a term lesser than minimum term and the amount lesser than the minimum amount, specified in this section

Sec.28. Protection of action taken in good faith

No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the members of the District Forum, the State Commissions or the National Commission or any officer or person acting under the direction of the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission for executing any order made by it or in respect of anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done by such member, officer or person under this Act or under any rule or order made there under

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Hierarchy of Court

The act provides for the establishment of 3- tier hierarchy of redressal agency at National, State and district level, with the process of “Informal Adjudication”. The agencies are:

  1. District consumer dispute redressal forum (DCDRC)
    • Also known as district forum
    • In each district by State Government
    • Value claimed should not exeed Rs- 20,00,000 (twenty lakhs )
  2. State consumer disputec redressal commission (SCDRC) Known as State commission by state government
    • Value claimed should be starting from 20 Lakhs – 1 Crore
  3. National consumer dispute redressal commission (NCDRC) -At New Delhi
    • Value claimed should exceed – 1 crore

Article by: Adv. Sneha Singh (B.Com. (Hons.) & LLB)

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Zone-I, M.P. Nagar, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462011

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