Filing a Case in Consumer Court in India

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The consumer dispute redressal forums in India are quasi-judicial bodies where you can file a complaint without the help of any lawyer. However, the common practice is to hire an expereinced advocate to handle such disputes. The dispute resolution mechanism for consumers in India is not as advanced as other developed nations.
India is much behind on consumer rights than many first world countries, where many of the rights we still have to go to Consumer Court for are written in law. But taking the big guys to court is exactly how to get those rights. Here’s all you need to know about getting a case in court:

When You Can File a Case:

According to the Consumer Protection Act, a person who buys a product or purchases a service, for use and not for commercial purposes, qualifies as a consumer. This means you can file a case in consumer court if you aren’t satisfied with the quality of a service or the standard of a product you’ve purchased or have agreed to purchase within two years of the grievance. Furthermore, as a consumer you can also seek compensation for any inconvenience or damage caused by a faulty product or service. And yes, you can represent yourself (although not always advisable).

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Where to file a case?

There are three levels at which a consumer can files a case. Each has its own jurisdiction and powers.

District Forum: There is a District Forum for every district and it settles disputes in its jurisdiction involving claims of up to Rs. 20 lakh.

State Commission: The State Commission hears cases where the value of the claim is between Rs. 20 lakh and Rs. 1 crore and those cases within the state which have been appealed against the District Forum’s decision.

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National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): The NCDRC hears cases which have been appealed against the decision of the State Commission and those in which the claimed sum exceeds Rs. 1 crore.

How to file a case?

Send a notice: Before filing a case, It is advisable to send a legal notice, stating all the facts of the case, to the registered office of the company.

File the complaint: Once done, the complaint can be filed on a plain paper. It should contain the name, description and address of the complainant and the opposite party, the facts related to complaint, documents in support of allegations made in the complaint, the compensation sought, and the signature of the complainant.

Pay court fees: The court fee is to be paid in the form of a demand draft and is nominal. The fees are as follows:

Court fees
For claims of up to Rs. 1 lakh (for Antyodaya Anna Yojana card holders): Nil
For claims of up to Rs. 1 lakh: Rs. 100
For claims of Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh: Rs. 200
For claims of Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh: Rs. 400
For claims of Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh: Rs. 500

State Commission
For claims of Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 50 lakh: Rs. 2,000
For claims of Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 1 crore: Rs. 4,000

National Commission
For claims above Rs. 1 crore: Rs. 5,000

Should You Go to Consumer Court?

Consumer court and its procedures were created to empower the consumer. The processes for filing and having a case heard were intended to be relatively simple so that the layman would be able to get justice on his own, without much working knowledge of the intricacies of the law. But consumer courts are not without their own set of drawbacks. While you may be confident about your case and feel justified in going down the legal path, there are a few things to pause and ponder over.

Legal Counsel

Appearing in consumer court does not require a lawyer, and you can represent yourself or have a relative do it for you. Alternatively, what you could do is have a lawyer help you out with the initial paperwork and then take control of the matter yourself. There is a checklist to be followed when filing a case in consumer court. It requires a lot effort for a consumer litigant to compose the complaint and see the case through. Although it is not compulsory to appoint a lawyer, it definitely helps to get a lawyer’s assistance. Seeing a case through may be manageable for a person who can compose a legal document coherently and articulate his case.

Expenses

Filing a case isn’t expensive and consumer court cases are supposed to be concluded comparatively quicker than other types of cases. These courts do, however, have authority that’s just as binding as any other court in the country and any case can be dragged on for years leaving you with substantial costs to bear. If you choose to hire a lawyer, you’ll be paying litigation fees. Getting your documents in order will also add to your cost. And depending on how far the court is from your home or place of work, you will have to factor in travelling costs as well.

Be Cautious

Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to go to court. If your dispute is over a small matter, it would probably serve you better to try to solve the problem as cordially as possible with a higher authority at the company with which you have the issue.

Effort

Whether or not you chose to fight the case yourself, you will have to keep your head about you. You can’t leave everything up to a lawyer. A conscious effort on your part will be necessary to see your case through.

Time

Fighting a case in consumer court will take up a good deal of your time. You may need to clear appointments or skip other responsibilities to appear in court. It could cause more monetary loss in the long run than the actual grievance.

Proving a Case

The civil judicial system in the country is based on the Code of Civil Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act. As per the legal procedure, the consumer has to take the onus to prove his case. The judge or court staff will not do this for you. They may assist you in filing the case, but when it comes to proving it, the responsibility lies with you.
You must take into account the value of your suit before you file your complaint before the district consumer forum. You should bear in mind that if the value of your suit is above Rs. 20 lacs, then the district forum does not have the authority to accept the suit. In such a case, you will have to move to the state consumer forum.

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    13 COMMENTS

    1. Free legal advice (India): legal opinion from legal advisor. Law Forum for online legal advice and legal help on your legal questions. Get online legal services for your legal issues from legal consultant.

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    2. dear sir i repair my mobile from service center 5 time in warranty and service center is 460 km from my location i pay 9000 in travel during visiting at service center and now mobile is at service center.

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      • Dear Yogesh, this may not be reason enough for a consumer complaint. To prove that you were caused inconvenience, you must be able to show that because the product was faulty, you incurred a loss. Therefore, if you bought a bike and its failure caused you to miss a flight, you could file a consumer complaint for losses incurred. In this case, however, you are voluntarily travelling to the service centre.

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    3. LG service centre has taken my TV to repair but without solving the problem has charged ₹3500. The service centre boy committed that problem will be solved but now they are telling that while LED panel will be changed to solve the problem which will cost ₹12500 against their oral commitment of Under ₹4000.
      As the problem is as it is and I have been charged unnecessarily ₹3500 . Please tell how to approach the consumer court and what is the procedure.

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      • Hi Manoj, as indicated above, you first need to send the company a legal notice. You can fill in a request here and we’ll get back to you as soon possible.

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    4. Hello sir,

      In Chennai airport, spicejet staff play boarding counter game with my me and my family. I visited the chennai airport for chennai to mumbai flight and my flight time is 5:50. I had reached the airport 5:04 am and first i went to 1 counter and executive said to me, go to 3rd counter for mumbai flight. But when i reached at 3rd counter, there is no executive on counter. I wait for few minutes and went to near by counter and executive said you are late. its 5:12. After spice jet staff behave badly with me. They had not give any other option. After that i come with my family by train in general coach. I wasted my full day due to spice jet. My family missed next day flight due to delhi. Please suggest me for legal action

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      • My Katoch, you should begin by sending a legal notice to Spice Jet. You may do this yourself, or, if you need assistance, fill in the form here. We will get back to you.

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    5. Hello,
      I am a manager of x company.
      We found that someone sells our company’s product at amazon at cheaper price.
      We dough for that product.
      I ordered that product at amazon. Seller send fake product .
      I have a video from parcel received to parcel opened.

      How can i file a claim at consumer court?

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    6. Hello,
      My father had to undergo a brain tumour surgery the second time only because the first one did not go well as expected. An operation had to be carried out the first time to take a specimen out of the tumour and have it sent for biopsy. The biopsy results, however, turned out to be inconclusive. A biopsy result could turn out to be inconclusive on two occasions – 1) If the specimen given was not enough to arrive at a conclusion; and 2) the specimen given was not part of the tumour at all. For this reason, the same doctor suggested to carry out another surgery, claiming that this time we will get it right. The second surgery was carried out, obviously under another doctor, and want to understand what the doctor who operated my father first, did in the first operation, and also to make them realise that one cannot go wrong in such cases. We would also like to make them realise that if they go wrong in such a case, there are going to be dire consequences.

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    7. Hello Sir/Madam,
      I have worked with a A construction company as a petty contractor. after work completion A company has delaying in RA Bill certification for payment which had taken 09 months. As per A company work order payment should be release after RA bill certification within/or 15 days, but A company is continuing harassing myself regarding my dues payment which is lump sum amount approx. 23 lakhs. we need your kind help.

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    8. Hello Sir/ma’am,
      I have filed a health claim of reimbursement in HDFC Ergo General Insurance company on 04/07/2017.
      They had a query that i provide the past history of my disease and it should be certified by treating doctor but the doctor says that you can send the discharge summary of hospital which contains the doctor sign, hospital stamp and shows the past history of my disease when i sent the discharge summary, the HDFC Ergo replied me that it is insufficient reply and now they put the again question that i will provide the reply of above query.
      Now I want to know that the discharge summary is not suitable for the reply or only doctor will certify the same while discharge summary shows the disease, time and treatment process and the doctor have signed on it. I need the help for the company HDFC is harrasing me or not. the claim processure is of 10 to 13 days and till now the claim period has over this period.

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    9. Sir,
      I had complaint against x builder for delayed possession in district consumer Court. As well Parallelly we i demanded other issues resolution like society formation. Now case stand at written affidavit of opposite party for evidence. But mean while opposite party claimed that district court will not make decision on it due to society issue is related to all 1000 flat owners and that cost is too high (around 200 cores). So Court asking us to withdraw and fill in national court. But I want withdraw particular point itself of society formation. But both court and opposite party denying.
      Could you suggest what should i do??

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