Consumer Protection Act 1986 empowers consumers to file their consumer complaints by visiting the Consumer Court at the district, state or national level along with the documents required for filing the complaint. As the Act has provided a very simple procedure for filing the complaint so anyone can do this. Thus, you do not need any lawyer to file a consumer complaint in the consumer court. Lets see how you can file a complaint in consumer court in India in this step-by-step guide.
Eligibility of filing Consumer Complaint
You should be Consumer
First of all you should check whether you are eligible to file a consumer complaint in Consumer Court or not? The Consumer Protection Act says that only consumers are eligible to file consumer complaints. In layman’s language, anybody who buys a product or avails a service for a consideration (partial / full payment or a promise), either for his personal use or to earn his livelihood by means of self employment, is a consumer in the eyes of law and so he is eligible to file a complaint. It is not necessary that the consumer himself has to file the complaint. Even his wife, husband, relative or his legal representative can also file complaint on his behalf.
Be within Time Limit
Secondly, it is important that a consumer complaint should be filed within two years from the date on which cause of action arises.
Attach Supporting Documents
Thirdly, you should have convincing evidences, proofs, bill and invoice etc. in order to support your complaint. Without compelling evidences to prove injustice or inconvenience or loss on your part, your case is most likely to be rejected by the court.
Jurisdiction of Court
Finally, you need to ensure that your case falls within the jurisdiction of the particular District / State commission where you are planning to file the consumer complaint. Usually, you should file consumer complaint in the district where the goods or services were sold, or where the office of opposite party or his residence is located. Apart from this, you also need to ensure the correct jurisdiction based on your claim in the case :
a) If the amount of claim is less than Rs. 20 Lacs, then the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has got the jurisdiction to hear the complaint.
b) If the amount of claim is more than Rs. 20 Lacs but less than Rs. 1 Crore, then the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission will entertain the complaint.
c) If the amount of claim is more than Rs 1 Crore, then the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission will hear the complaint. However, a dis-satisfied consumer can directly approach National Commission or can appeal against decisions of the state commission.
Once you are satisfied that you fulfill all these above conditions then filing complaint is a straight forward three step process :
Step 1 : Draft Consumer Complaint
First of all you should collect name & addresses of all the opposite parties. You can easily get this information from the invoice or bill which you might have received from them. Your complaint should explain the problem which you have faced and clearly state the relief which you are seeking. It should also mention the compensation, damages, cost, refund or interest amount. However, if you are too lazy to draft your complaint yourself then you should file your complaint at voxya.com and we will draft a professional complaint on your behalf.
Step 2 : Send Legal Notice
After you have drafted your complaint, it is now time to send a legal notice to the opposite party. Sending a legal notice to opposite party is mandatory before filing a formal consumer case. This is done in order to provide an opportunity to the opposite party to settle the case and to send a signal that the consumer is seriously planning to file a consumer case against the opposite party. You should normally send this legal notice to opposite party via registered post and wait for altleast 30 days for any response from the opposite party. If the opposite party refuses to resolve the complaint or simply neglects the notice, then you can approach the consumer court. Please note that if you have filed your consumer complaint at voxya then we will send legal notice on your behalf and you need not to do anything.
Step 3 : Approach Consumer Court
Filing a formal Consumer Complaint in Consumer Court does not require any special preparations. As previously stated, you do not require any lawyer for filing the case, so you can do this yourself. Just mention all the details of the case on a plain paper, attach annexures and submit it in four copies, plus additional copies for each opposite party. Looking too complex? Don’t worry, Voxya.com can prepare consumer case documents for you.
Please note that if you are filing an appeal in Consumer court then you need to provide Certified copy of the district forum order and have to deposit Rs.25,000 or 50% of the award or compensation amount, whichever is less.
Required Court Fees
You need to deposit the required court fees for entertaining your consumer case in different courts. The amount of court fees is determined on the basis of the total value of goods or services and the compensation claimed.
For District forums
Up to Rs.100,000 : Fees is Rs.100
Between Rs.100,000 – Rs.500,000 : Fees is Rs.200
Between Rs.500,000 -Rs.10,00,000 : Fees is Rs.400
Above Rs.10,00,000 and up to Rs.20,00,000 : Fees is Rs.500
For State forums
Above Rs.20,00,000 – Rs.50,00,000 : Fees is Rs.2,000
Above Rs.50,00,000 – Rs.100,00,000 : Fees is Rs.4,000
For National Commission
The fees is Rs.5,000
Once you are ready with your formal written complaint and have arranged the necessary fees then you just need to sign the documents and submit them in the consumer court personally. It usually takes only 2-3 hours in filing a complaint in the court.
Thats it! Hope you like the guide and will keep sending your valuable comments.