Consumer Protection Laws
Common questions on ‘Consumer Protection laws’
- What is consumer protection law?
- Is there any specific Act or Rule for consumer protection in India?
- How can one file a consumer complaint in India?
- Where to file a consumer protection case?
- What are the rights of a consumer?
- What is purpose of consumer protection act?
Consumer protection laws aim at the protection of the interests and rights of consumers. These laws aim at changing the mentality of the market from “Caveat Emptor” (let the buyer beware) to “Caveat Venditor” (let the seller beware). In India, there is a statue called ‘The Consumer Protection Act, 1986’ which aims at safeguarding the rights and best interest of consumers.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (COPRA):
This act focuses at advocating competition policy, prohibiting against abusing of a dominant position, prohibiting agreements which can be of an anti-competitive nature.
The intent behind this law is to solve the obstacles in promotion of competition amongst businesses operating under the Indian law. The COPRA is one of the Social Welfare Legislations.
This Act is applicable to all the goods and services until and unless it is specifically exempted by the Central Government. COPRA covers private, public & co-operative sectors, with its provisions having a compensatory nature. The provisions of this Act are powerful as they provide with simple & speedy processes for the solving of disputes. This Act provides for the application of Consumer Protection Councils ate various levels.
Appeal Process/Dispute Redressal Mechanism as per this Act:
There are three levels of adjudicatory authorities under this Act; they are the National, State, & District Level, which are known as National Commission, State Commissions, and District Forum.
District Forum is composed of President and two members with graduation being the minimum educational qualification. State Commission is presided over by a Retired High Court Judge, and the National Commission is presided over by the retired Supreme Court Judge.
Pecuniary Jurisdiction of District Forum – matters upto Rs. 20 lakhs
Pecuniary jurisdiction of State Commission – matters upto Rs. 1 Crore
Pecuniary Jurisdiction of National Commission – matters above Rs. 1 Crore.
Proceedings before these adjudicatory bodies are dealt with in compatibility with the principles of Natural Justice.
How to file a Consumer Complaint in India:
- Making of a complaint petition – this petition would include all the particulars of a case, for example, the precise complaint, arranging of the facts proofs and so on in an arranged manner.
- Selecting the correct Consumer Court - while choosing the correct forum, the pecuniary jurisdiction (the extent of the value of suits which may be allowed) must be taken into consideration. Also the local jurisdiction of the various district forums must be given importance, for example in cases filed at district forums, one of the grounds for choosing the court can be the place where cause of action arises.
- Submitting a mandatory statutory fee – the amount instructed by the concerned forum has to be deposited.
- Filling in for Revisions & Appeals – as per the provisions of the COPRA, an appeal or a revision petition is available.
Section 15 of COPRA says that a person may appeal to the State Commission, within 30 days from the date of order, but would have to submit Rs. 25,000 or 50% of the awarded amount with the criteria of choosing being the lesser amount of the two amounts.
Section 19 of COPRA says that a person may appeal, against the result of the State Commission, within 30 days from the date of order, but would have to submit Rs. 35,000 or 50% of the awarded amount with the criteria of choosing being the lesser amount of the two amounts.
Section 23 of COPRA says that a person may appeal, against the result of the National Commission, within 30 days from the date of order, but would have to submit Rs. 50,000 or 50% of the awarded amount with the criteria of choosing being the lesser amount of the two amounts.
*Forums & Supreme Court may allow the appeal after the period of 30 days if they seem to find reasonable causes for the delay.
- Ravneet Singh Bagga v. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and another (2000) – Supreme Court observed that the “deficiency in service cannot be alleged without attributing fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service. The burden of proving the deficiency in service is upon the person who alleges it.
- HDFC Bank Limited v. Balwinder Singh – The issue was of the bank, or its credit recuperation specialist, utilizing musclemen to take coercive repossession of the hypothecated vehicle and accordingly making physical badgering and mental injury to the complainant. The District Forum permitted the complaint and guided the bank to pay of Rs. 4 lakh for repossessing the vehicle in this way and exchanging it to an outsider. The State Commission affirmed the request in claim. Adjudicating the bank's revision petition, the National Commission communicated stun that the bank had employed musclemen specifically or through its recuperation specialists(recovery agent) to recoup the advance/repossess the vehicle. The Commission additionally alluded to the State Commission's request, which had observed that the alleged letter delivered by the bank implying to the complainant deliberately giving over ownership of the vehicle was untrustworthy and that no notice was given to the complainant at the phases of repossession and offer of vehicle. In rejecting the request, the Commission depended upon its judgment in Citicorp Maruti Finance Limited v S. Vijayalaxmi [III (2007) CPJ 161 (NC)] where it had unequivocally deplored such practices. The Commission expelled the appeal to and granted Rs. 25,000 as exemplary costs.
- Sehgal School of Competition v. Dalbir Singh – Complainant requested for refund on grounds of poor standards from the coaching school at completion of one year (it was a 2 year course). District Forum allowed it, eventually the other party filed a revision petition claiming that the provisions of the contract provide for the condition of unavailability of refunds. Commission eventually held that such a provision is heavily biased towards one side and should not be allowed. Nipun Nagar v. Symbiosis Institute of International Business observed that the collection of fees for the total period of a course is unjust.