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Consumer Complaints

What Is the Process for Taking a Court Case by a Consumer?

When a consumer feels cheated by a trader, manufacturer, or service provider, he can submit a case in consumer court and claim the losses. Depending on the claim amount, the consumer should select the consumer forum at the district, state, or national level. Read to know more.

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In the dynamic landscape of consumer transactions, the rights and protection of consumers play a crucial role in ensuring fair and ethical practices. This article provides a detailed overview of the Consumer Protection Act in India, focusing on the procedural aspects of filing complaints and seeking redress in Consumer Courts.

What is a Consumer Court in India?

In India, a Consumer Court is a legal institution established under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 with the purpose of resolving and adjudicating disputes related to consumer rights. These courts operate on three hierarchical levels – District, State, and National. The determination of which court a dispute should be filed in is based on a monetary limit specified by law for each court.

Consumers, who play a pivotal role in the economy due to their purchasing power, are entitled to goods and services of a certain quality, free from defects or deficiencies. However, instances arise where consumers experience substandard goods or deficient services. To address such grievances and provide a mechanism for redressal, the Consumer Protection Act, of 1986 was enacted.

What Kinds of Complaints Can You Apply in Consumer Court?

  1. The seller sells defective goods.
  2. The seller or service provider charges more than what is agreed between the parties or is more than what the package or price list shows.
  3. Services not as promised while hiring.
  4. The service provider does not follow fair trade practices.
  5. A seller sells goods that are dangerous to life and safety on usage, and the seller is aware of it.

Depending upon the amount involved in your claim, there are three tiers of redressal forum.

1. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum

You will find DCDRF in each district. You should submit a complaint here if your claim is up to 1 crore. If you are dissatisfied with the order given by the DCDRF, you may appeal to the State Consumer Forum.

2. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

SCDRC is in every state. When the value of your claim is from 1 crore to 10 crores, you can submit your complaint here. You may submit an appeal to the NCDRC from the order of SCDRC

3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

NCDRC is in Delhi. If the value of your claim is more than 10 crores, you may submit your complaint here. If you are not satisfied with the order of NCDRC, you may appeal to the Supreme Court.

What is the Fee for Filing a Complaint in the Consumer Court?

There are different slabs of consumer court charges/ fees, depending on the value of the claim amount.

1. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum

    • For cases involving claims up to5 lakh claim, you do not have to pay any fee.
    • If the claim is from 5Lakh to 10 lakh, it is 200
    • From 10 lakhs to 20 lakhs-400
    • From 20 lakhs to 50 lakhs- 1,000
    • Above 50 lakhs to 1 crore- 2,000

2. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

    • If your claim value is from 1 crore to 2 crores, you have to pay a fee of 2,500.
    • If the claim is from 2crores to 4 crores, the fee is 3000
    • From 4 crores to 6 crores-4,000
    • From 6 crores to 8 crores- 5,000
    • Above 8 crores to 10 crores- 6,000

3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

    • If your claim value is above 10 crores, you have to pay a fee of 7,500.

Consumer Court Fees

You have to pay the consumer court fees at the time of filing the complaint. The payment should be through a duly crossed demand draft from a nationalised bank drawn in favour of the President, Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum(location).

What is an Unfair Contract?

When a contract between the service provider/trader/manufacturer and a consumer has terms that significantly change the rights of a consumer, it is an Unfair Contract. An Unfair Contract includes:

  • Insisting the consumer on exorbitant security deposits as an obligation for the contract
  • Refusing foreclosure of loans
  • Foreclosure of loans on payment of the penalty is not accepted
  • asking the consumer to pay penalties disproportionate to the loss in case of a breach of contract.   
  • Terminating a contract unreasonably
  • Permitting a party to use the contract terms to harm the consumer interest
  • Imposing unreasonable charges or obligations or conditions that are disadvantageous to the consumer.

What is the Procedure to Follow to Submit a Complaint in Consumer Court?

You can register a complaint in person. A legal advisor can represent you, or you may register an online complaint. Register the complaint within 2 years of availing of goods or services from the party. 

Here are the procedures you should follow 

1. Send Notice to the Opposite Party.

You should send a consumer notice format by registered post to the party. It should contain the reasons for dissatisfaction. It allows settling grievances outside the consumer forum within a stipulated period. If the opposite party fails in this regard, you will register a lawsuit in the consumer court.

2.  Draft the Consumer Complaint with the Help of a Legal Advisor.

If the opposite party does not respond to the notice, you submit a formal complaint in the consumer court. 

The complaint should have the following details.

  • The complainant and the opposite party’s name and address
  • Reasons and facts of complaint with date and time
  • Details of relief or compensation claimed by you
  • Signature and verification by you or your authorized legal advisor

3.  Attach the Supporting Documents and Evidence.

Invoice copy, delivery receipt, a record of booking if the goods are purchased online

Copy of the notice sent to the party with postal acknowledgment

An affidavit stating that the facts presented and statements made are true to your knowledge.

4.  Choose the Forum as per your Claim Amount.

5.  Deposit the Court Fee through a Demand Draft.

A statutory deposit of 25,000 or 50% of the compensation, whichever is less, should be paid by you and the parties while filing a case in the state forum. The consumer forum returns this deposit after the hearing closes. You do not have to pay such a deposit in the district or national consumer forum.

Consumer Court Online Complaint Process

Given below are the steps for submitting a lawsuit in consumer court:

  • You have to register a complaint on the official website.
  • Provide personal details as requested.
  • After registration, create your username and password.
  • Submit your idea complaint portal online.
  • Select the service provider or company type with their services or goods sold.
  • Enter the relevant details, evidence, and details of the issues with the goods or services provided.
  • Submit the form, and you have processed the complaint.

You do not have to worry if you are cheated or dissatisfied with the services or goods of a service provider or trader. You can always approach the consumer court: if you are legally eligible and claim compensation. Though you can submit a complaint on your own, it is advisable to take the help of legal advisors. They provide you with expert advice and save your time, money, and energy. And hence, Vakilsearch can help extensively in this regard.

Who can File a Complaint in a Consumer Court?

In the Consumer Court in India, a complaint can be lodged by various entities, as specified by the Consumer Protection Act. The following parties are eligible to file a complaint:

  • Consumer: An individual who has purchased goods or availed services by paying a certain amount of money is considered a consumer. The goods should be for personal use and not intended for resale or commercial purposes.
  • Voluntary Consumer Association: Any registered association under the Companies Act, 1956, or any other relevant law can file a complaint on behalf of consumers.
  • Government Bodies: Both the Central and State Governments are eligible to file complaints in the Consumer Court.
  • One or More Consumers with the Same Interest: If multiple consumers share a common interest in a particular matter, they can collectively file a complaint.
  • Legal Heir or Representative in Case of the Consumer’s Death: In the unfortunate event of a consumer’s death, their legal heir or representative is authorized to file a complaint.

When can a Consumer Lodge a Complaint? 

The conditions for a consumer to complain are as follows:

  1. Grounds for Complaint: The complaint can be filed if any of the specified grounds are satisfied. These grounds may include issues such as unfair trade practices, defective goods, deficiency in services, overcharging, or selling hazardous goods.
  2. Statutory Period: The complaint must be filed within the statutory period of 2 years from the date of the cause of action.
  3. Legal Capacity: The complainant must have the legal capacity to file the complaint, meaning they should be sane, solvent, and of legal age.
If an individual falls under the definition of a “Consumer,” they need to identify the specific grounds on which they can base their complaint. A complaint, in this context, refers to any written allegation made by the complainant. This ensures a structured and documented process for addressing consumer grievances in the Consumer Court.

Grounds for Filing a Complaint

The grounds for filing a complaint in a Consumer Court, as outlined by the Consumer Protection Act, encompass various issues related to consumer rights. These grounds include:

  1. Adoption of Unfair Trade Practice or Restrictive Trade Practice: When the service provider engages in unfair trade practices or imposes restrictive trade practices on the consumer.
  2. Defective Goods: In cases where goods are either already purchased or agreed to be bought, and they are found to be defective. In this case you can file a Legal notice for defective goods
  3. Deficiency in Services: When there is a lack of quality or standard in the services that have been hired or availed, or agreed to be hired or availed.
  4. Overcharging: Charging an amount for goods or services that exceeds the price fixed by law, displayed on packaging, or agreed upon between the parties.
  5. Sale of Hazardous Goods or Services: Selling or offering to sell goods or services that pose a threat to life and safety. This is applicable if the trader could have known that the goods or services are hazardous through due diligence.

What are the Different Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies Responsible for Consumer Protection?

After establishing the grounds for the complaint, the next step involves estimating the pecuniary limit for the complaint. The Consumer Protection Act has established a three-tier redressal forum based on these pecuniary limits:

  • District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF): Located in each district, it comprises three members. If the value of the claim is up to 50 lakhs, an appeal may be filed from the DCDRF order to the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
  • State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC): Established in every state, the SCDRC entertains both original and appellate complaints. If the value of the claim is between 50 lakhs to 2 Crores, an appeal may be filed from the SCDRC order to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
  • National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Located in New Delhi, the NCDRC is the highest forum in the three-tier Redressal System. It has pecuniary jurisdiction if the value of the claim exceeds 2 crore. The NCDRC is authorized to hear appeals from the SCDRC, and an appeal from the NCDRC order lies with the Supreme Court.

What is the Procedure to File a Complaint in the Consumer Court?

The procedure to file a complaint in the Consumer Court in India involves several steps. Here is a breakdown of the process:

  • STEP 1: Intimation via Notice:
    • The aggrieved party sends a notice to the service provider, communicating the intention to resort to litigation.
    • The notice informs the service provider about defects in goods, deficiencies in services, or any unfair practices.
    • This notice serves as an attempt to settle the complaint without approaching the Consumer Court, in case the service provider is willing to offer compensation or another remedy.
  • STEP 2: Get the Consumer Complaint Drafted:
    • If the service provider does not agree to compensation or other remedies, the aggrieved party files a formal complaint under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
    • The complaint can be filed by the aggrieved person and does not necessarily require a lawyer.
    • Details specified in the complaint include the names, descriptions, and addresses of the complainant(s) and the opposite party or parties, cause of action, relevant facts, relief or remedy claimed, and signature and verification by the complainant or authorized agent.
  • STEP 3: Attach Relevant Documents:
    • Important documents supporting the case, such as bills, receipts, product packaging, records of online bookings, warranty/guarantee certificates, copies of the written complaint and notice sent to the manufacturer/seller, are attached.
  • STEP 4: Choose the Appropriate Forum:
    • The complainant selects the appropriate forum for filing the complaint based on the pecuniary jurisdiction, estimated in reference to the total value of goods and services bought or availed and the amount of compensation sought.
  • STEP 5: Pay Requisite Court Fees:
    • A prescribed fee, depending on the forum and the value of goods and compensation sought, is paid along with the complaint.
  • STEP 6: Submit an Affidavit:
    • The person filing the case in the Consumer Court submits an affidavit stating that the facts and statements made are true to their knowledge.

How to Approach the District Forum?

  1. The complainant can make the complaint on plain paper, which is then notarized and can be filed in person or through an authorized agent.
  2. Four copies plus additional copies for each party are filed by the complainant.
  3. The court fee varies based on the valuation of the suit and is to be paid through a demand draft made out to the President, Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, in the respective district.

This comprehensive process ensures that consumer complaints are filed systematically and adhere to the necessary legal requirements.

How to Approach the State Consumer Forum?

  1. The complainant can either file an original complaint within the pecuniary jurisdiction limit specified by law or file an appeal from the order of the District Forum within 30 days of the order being passed.
  2. Court fees are deposited via a demand draft in favor of the Registrar, (name of) State Commission, payable in that particular State only.
  3. Documents required for filing an appeal in the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) include documents of record (copy of the filed complaint, proofs, evidence, etc.), a certified copy of the order passed by the District Forum, four copies for the court, additional copies for each respondent, a copy of interim orders, related petitions, an affidavit, and an application for condonation of delay (if any).
  4. A statutory deposit of Rs 25,000 or 50% of the award or compensation amount, whichever is less, is to be made by the appellant or opposite parties.

How to Approach the NCDRC?

  1. The consumer can file a complaint directly if it falls within the pecuniary jurisdiction or file an appeal from the order of SCDRC within 30 days of the passing of the order.
  2. The court fees for filing a complaint in NCDRC is Rs 5,000, payable via a demand draft in the name of The Registrar, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
  3. There is no fee for filing an appeal before the State or National Commission.
  4. In case of dissatisfaction with the orders of NCDRC, the consumer can approach the Supreme Court within 30 days of the passing of the order.

What are the Reliefs that can be granted under the Consumer Protection Act?

Under the Consumer Protection Act, various reliefs can be granted to consumers who file complaints in Consumer Courts. These reliefs aim to compensate consumers for any damages suffered due to substandard goods, deficient services, or unfair trade practices. The reliefs include:

  • Refund of Price: Consumers may be granted a refund of the amount paid for the product, along with additional compensation for damages and the cost of litigation if claimed.
  • Removal of Defects: If material defects are identified, the Consumer Forum may order the service provider to cure or remove those defects.
  • Replacement of Goods: If feasible, the service provider may be directed to replace the defective goods.
  • Compensation: Consumers can be awarded compensation if it is proven that they suffered physical, mental, or other types of loss or damage due to the usage of goods or services.
  • Ban on Sale of Hazardous Goods: The Consumer Forum has the authority to impose a ban on the sale of hazardous goods and their withdrawal from the market.
  • Removal of Deficiency in Service: An order may be issued for the removal of deficiencies in service if feasible.
  • Discontinuance of Unfair/Restrictive Trade Practice: In cases where the cause of action involves unfair or restrictive trade practices, the Consumer Forum can order the discontinuance of such practices, imposing a complete or conditional ban.
  • Payment of Costs: The Consumer Forum may order the payment of adequate costs or the cost of litigation if claimed by the complainant.

Is there a Time Limit to file a Case in Consumer Court?

A consumer complaint should be filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action, deficiency in service, or defect in goods arises. However, the Consumer Protection Act allows the filing of a complaint after the statutory period of two years if the District Forum is satisfied that the complainant has valid reasons for the delay.

Can I Appeal against the Order of the Consumer Court? 

Both the complainant and the accused have the right to file an appeal against the order of the forum at all three levels: District Forum, State Forum, and National Forum. If dissatisfied with the order of the National Forum, an appeal can be made to the Supreme Court.


Can I file a case in consumer court without a lawyer?

Yes, you can file a case in consumer court without a lawyer. However, it is advisable to consult with a lawyer or legal expert to ensure that your case is properly prepared and presented.

What type of cases can be filed in consumer court?

Consumer court handles cases related to consumer rights, including issues with products or services, unfair trade practices, and other violations of consumer rights laws.

How long does consumer court take?

The duration of consumer court proceedings varies depending on the complexity of the case and the court's schedule. It can take anywhere from a few months to several years.

Is it easy to file a case in consumer court?

Filing a case in consumer court can be a complex process, but it is designed to be accessible to ordinary citizens. It is essential to follow the proper procedures and provide sufficient evidence to support your case.

Do I need a lawyer for consumer court in India?

While it is not mandatory to have a lawyer, having legal representation can be beneficial. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal process, ensure that your case is properly prepared, and represent you in court.

Is it worth going to consumer court?

Going to consumer court can be a viable option for resolving disputes, especially when dealing with consumer rights issues. It provides a platform for citizens to seek redressal for grievances and can lead to fair and reasonable outcomes.

Is notice mandatory for consumer court?

Yes, serving a notice is an essential part of the consumer court process. The notice informs the opposite party about the complaint and provides them an opportunity to respond.

Does complaining in consumer court help?

Filing a complaint in consumer court can help you resolve disputes and seek redressal for grievances. It can lead to a fair and reasonable outcome, especially when dealing with consumer rights issues.

How do I approach consumer court online?

To approach consumer court online, you can visit the respective state consumer court's website and follow the instructions provided for filing a complaint or appealing against an order.

Can I file a case against a bank in consumer court?

Yes, you can file a case against a bank in consumer court if the issue involves a violation of consumer rights or unfair practices.

What happens in consumer court?

Consumer courts hear cases related to consumer rights, including issues with products or services, unfair trade practices, and other violations of consumer rights laws. The court aims to provide a fair and reasonable outcome to the parties involved.

How much does it cost to go to consumer court?

The cost of going to consumer court can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the case, the court's fees, and legal expenses. It is essential to consider these costs when deciding to file a case in consumer court.

How do you win a consumer case?

To win a consumer case, you should provide sufficient evidence to support your claims, follow the proper legal procedures, and ensure that your case is well-prepared and presented.

How many days are required for a consumer court complaint?

The time required for a consumer court complaint varies depending on the court's schedule and the complexity of the case. It can take anywhere from a few months to several years.

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