Filing a Case in Consumer Court in India

Last Updated at: Oct 10, 2020
Latest Update


On 4th March,2020, the Supreme Court said that District Consumer Forums do not have the power to extend the time for filing of version by the opposite party in a Consumer case beyond 45 days (as mentioned in the Consumer Protection Act).


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.

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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.


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.


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.


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.