Enhanced Access to Consumer Courts – File Cases up to 5 Lakhs for Free By Avani Mishra - November 16, 2018 Last Updated at: Oct 30, 2020 0 1729 “Advertising tries to stimulate our sensuous desires, converting luxuries into necessities. The business world is bent on creating hungers which its wares never satisfy, adding to the frustration and broken minds of our times”. Futton J Sheen In today’s convenient era of digital advertising, online payments and home delivery, we are always on our phones, browsing the next thing to order. We all have glitzy advertisements on every app that we all have on our phones– from Instagram, Facebook, Myntra, Jabong, Zomato, Swiggy to Nykaa and international apps influencing our shopping appetite. But with this whopping upsurge in both online and offline shopping, what has also increased, and naturally so – cases of shortcomings in the products and services we buy. As a legislative countermeasure, the Central Government through a recent notification has made it free of cost to file consumer cases in the District Consumer Forum, thereby waiving the court fee required for approaching the Forum. The Change – Higher Threshold for Free Filing Earlier, a litigant, to file a case of up to 5 lakhs had to shell out a court fee of 200 rupees, while cases of up to 1 lakh rupees in dispute, could be filed for free. Under the revised notification, cases where the value of the product or service was less than 5 lakh rupees can be filed for free, whereas for cases above 5 lakhs but less than 10 lakh rupees, a court fee of 200 rupees would be required to be paid. For cases involving a value of products or services above 10 lakh rupees but below 20 lakh rupees, a court fee of 400 rupees would be required to be paid. For any case involving more than 20 lakh rupees, a standard court fee of 500 rupees is required. What this ensues, is shortcomings in all items costing below 5 lakh rupees – such as expensive refrigerators, small budget cars, jewellery, luxury stays, high-end laptops etc, can be taken to court without the hassles of paying a court fee. Get FREE legal advice now Can you file a case without a lawyer in the consumer court? We have all bought small value products – from makeup that has come out broken and dry, to classy looking home furnishings that turned out to be cheap looking and online clothes that just don’t seem flattering. Instead of filing a case, we are often dissuaded for the fear of shelling out more money as a fee to the lawyer, than the initial cost of the product. The good news is, that while professional help is definitely beneficial, in simple cases, you can very well go ahead and argue your own case. However, it is important to know the procedures and one must be prepared for multiple hearings, notices and be adept at presenting the facts and grievances before the judge. What documents should you save for filing a case? In order to file a case, either personally or through an advocate, you must save original bills of your purchase, any communication with the seller about the defect in product or service along with any other documents, pamphlets or pictures which may help bolster your claim. In case the seller has denied offering replacements or returns, it is necessary to save such communication for presentation in the court. The Department of Consumer Affairs has also launched a portal for registering online complaints about Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA) which can be accessed at http://gama.gov.in where complaints can be filed against false claims in any advertisement – in print, online or audio.