The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 passed on 7th August 2019, provides protection of 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 redressals of consumer disputes. In the case of grievances, consumers can file a complaint in the manner laid down under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Sec 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.

A consumer complaint can be filed by one or more consumers, any registered voluntary consumer association, the Central or State Government, heirs or legal representatives of the consumer. Where the consumer is a minor, the complaint can be filed by his parent or legal guardian.

How to File a Consumer Complaint under Consumer Protection Act, 2019?

1.  A Consumer Complaint can be made either in a written manner or in electronic mode to the District Collector, the Commissioner of 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 higherCourt.

2. The first step before filing a consumer complaint is to determine the territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction of the complaint. A consumer complaint can be filed in the District Forum if the claims for goods and services does not exceed Rs 1 Crore. For claims where the value of goods and services is between Rs. 1 Crore to 10 Crore, the complaint can be filed in the State Commission whereas if the value of goods and services exceeds Rs 10 Crore, a consumer complaint can be filed in the National Commission.

3. The next step requires serving a legal or personal notice to the opposite party. After this, a complainant can file a complaint in the respective consumer redressal forum. The procedure for filing a consumer complaint is similar for all the District Forums, State Commissions and National Commissions.

Fee 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 notarised 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 to prove 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.

Details to be included in complaint under Consumer Protection Act, 2019

A consumer complaint shall consist of the following details:

1. Name and address of the complainant and the opposite party.

2. The date on which the goods were purchased or services availed, details of such goods and services and the amount paid for the same.

3. The subject of the complaint, whether it was an unfair trade practice, defective goods were supplied, deficiency in services provided.

4. The bills and receipts of the concerned product or service.

5. The relief to be sought under the Act.

6. Signature of the complainant or his authorized agent.

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.

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.

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 log-in 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.

Conclusion

The government has made several attempts for quick redressal of consumer complaints. A consumer complaint can be filed in a written manner as well as National Consumer Helpline and various applications have been launched to simplify the procedure of filing consumer complaints.

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