Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted for better protection of the interests of consumers. The provisions of the Act came into force with effect from 15-04-1987.The Act intends to provide simple, speedy & inexpensive redresses to the consumer’s grievances.
In India various Acts intended to protect the consumers against different forms of exploitation were enacted, such as, the Indian Penal Code, 1860; Indian Contract Act, 1872; Indian Standard Institution(Certification marks) Act, 1952,etc.
The Consumer Protection Act is an alternative and cheapest remedy already available to the aggrieved persons by way of civil suit. In the complaint or appeal the consumer does not have to pay any court fees under this Act.
CONSUMER: A person who buys any goods for a consideration and user of such goods where the use is with the approval of the buyers. Service of any description is covered under Consumer Protection Act & includes banking, financing, insurance, processing, housing, construction, board and lodging, among others.
How to file a consumer complaint?
A complaint can be filed by
-the consumer to whom the goods are being sold or services are provided
-any recognised consumer association
-one or more consumers with same interest
-the central government or state government
Further process of filing complaint-
Stage 0: Decide to file
This problem occurs when a consumer has been ignored, insulted or cheated from the company by whom you bought a product is helplessness, anger or revenge.
Consumer daddy i.e. the consumer court understands these emotions. But unfortunately the consumer court of our country is one of the most putrid, decadent, impersonal and sluggish system in the world.
Whatever your decision is regarding filing the complaint at consumer court, consumer court encourages the consumer to take few steps to ensure that the company will pay back its mistake, i.e.
Filing the complaint at consumer court website, filing the complaint at other popular consumer blogs in India, filing the case at local police as applicable, opting to move to the lok adalats, filing a complaint with state Human Rights Commission, etc.
Stage 1: Collect necessary documentation
Before a consumer complaint can be filed against a company, you need to ensure that you have all the supporting documentation that you need. Documents such as-
#invoice or bill for the purchase
#warranty card for product and SLA for services
#proof of the payment such as copy of the cheque or credit card statement
Or, any other documents which can show the negligence, insensitivity or lack of attention from the company.
In case you cannot get a copy of the bill, do not worry or feel helpless. Most of the billed purchases are entered into the ledger and accounting books of the company.
Stage 2: Send the notice to the company
In this step, you will be required to ‘officially’ notify the company of your grievance. Be detailed about what it is that you are complaining about and what you expect the company to do.
Points to be taken in the notice-
#providing clarity to the company on the nature of your grievance
#providing clarity to the company on how you expect the company to solve your complaint
#particular time should be given within which the grievance should be rectified
#provide a polite and stern notification that you intent to pursue the matter legally
Accordingly, the company will respond to your notice with the willingness to resolve your problem.
Stage 3: Get legal representation
The consumer court does not have a take on this. There is both advantage and disadvantage of having an advocate or a lawyer to represent you.
Advantage of having or hiring lawyer is that you do not need to read the remaining of this boring article. The advocate will know what to do from here on.
The biggest disadvantage of hiring a lawyer is that good ones don’t come free.
If you decide to get a legal representation, then the remaining steps will be followed through by your lawyer.
Stage 4: Prepare you complaint
Few important things which should be kept in mind while preparing the complaint.
How much time do I have?
The consumer protection act 1986, clause 24(1) a consumer court shall not admit a complaint unless it is filed within 2yrs on which the cause of action arisen.
Which court should I file the complaint in?
Depending upon the compensation you are filing for choose an appropriate courts. If the total amount in your complaint is below Rs.20lakhs, you must file the complaint with the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum. If it is between Rs.20lakhs and Rs.1crore than you must file the complaint with the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and if it is more than Rs.1crore, than you must file the complaint with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
Stage 5: File your complaint
Along with the complaint and the affidavit, attach a list of documents you are submitting as part of the complaint file. Ensure that you attach photocopies of the evidentiary documents and not the original. You also need to sign and attach a VAKALATNAMA, which is similar to a power of attorney authorizing your lawyer to represent you in court on this case, should you decide to hire a lawyer.
Stage 6: Attend the Admission Hearing
Till this point you have got a rosy picture of the concept of consumer protection in India. Most of the consumer courts such as District Consumer Redressal Forum in the country operate from shacks that are in high probability a little, if not any, better than a cattle shed. Also, it is a public secret that merely depositing the court fee will not get you a complaint reference number nor the admission hearing dates. You will also need to pay the unofficial “fee” or the bribe to the court desk.
We highly recommend that you do not miss the admission hearing or the subsequent hearings as if you are absent, your case will be decided in your absence based on its merits. It is recommended to spend a whole day in the court as it is difficult to predict when your case will be called for hearing. When called to the court, ensure that you are earnest in your appearance and polite, respectful, and stern in your tone of voice.
Typically, the judge will review your case file. Judges may ask you to give an explanation of the problem and what solution you seek. Be sure to explain the case in short and precise manner and also remember do not contradict on what have you written in your complaint. Judges using these ways may ask you short questions to clarify the merits of your case. Be short and precise in your answer. The judge may ask you for additional evidence or the original documents if there are any disputes regarding the authenticity of the documents. If this is the case, ensure that the documents are handed only to the court officials and not to any complain official.
Stage 7: Attend Subsequent hearing till the Verdict
This depends on the complexity of your case, and the number of times the judge wants to postpone or conduct hearings. It could be anywhere from one to seven hearings before which your case is disposed. Be sure to attend each hearing. The consumer court will finally reach a verdict on your case and will send you and the company the court orders. If the verdict is in your favor, you may be eligible for a refund, and the company may also have to pay for punitive damages that include compensating you for any mental agony, insult, inconvenience, or damage you may have suffered. In many cases, the court will also direct the company to pay for your legal and court expenses.
Stage 8: After the Verdict
Most lawyers will tell you that your actual legal battle with a company starts only after you obtain a verdict from a consumer court. Consumer court system in our country has no stalwart statutory powers to enforce their verdicts on any company. If the company does not follow the verdict of the consumer court, and neither does it file appeal within 30 days, to get a company to abide by the verdict of a consumer forum, you will have to file another proceeding to “execute the verdict” in the consumer court. Put simply, after you get a verdict from a consumer court, you will have to approach it again to issue a judgment to the company to follow the verdict of the consumer court or to face other civil and criminal penalties including attachment of properties or arrest. Sadly, this could mean another 2-5 years of your life fighting a legal battle against this company to remedy your problem.
Consumers play a vital role in the economic system of a nation because in the absence of effective demand that emanates from them, the economy virtually collapses. Mahatma Gandhi said, “A consumer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us, we are on him. He is not an interruption to our work; he is the purpose of it. We are not doing a favour to a consumer by giving him an opportunity. He is doing us a favour by giving us opportunity to serve him. But, of late, unfortunately cheating by way of overcharging, black marketing, misleading advertisements, etc has become the common practice of greedy sellers and manufacturers to make unreasonable profits. In this context, it is the duty of the government to confer some rights on consumers to safeguard their interests. Consumers are a vulnerable lot for exploitations, more so in a developing country with the prevalence of mass poverty and illiteracy. India too is no exception to it. Procedural simplicity and speedy and inexpensive redressal of consumer grievances as contained in the CPA are really unique and have few parallels in the world. Implementation of the Act reveals that interests of consumers are better protected than ever before. However, consumer awareness through consumer education and actions by the government, consumer activists, and associations are needed the most to make consumer protection movement a success in the country.
It is not exactly the copy and paste from these sited but have taken some help from these sites.