As a consumer you have the right to file a consumer case if you do not receive your money's worth. The Consumer Protection Act defines a consumer as any person who buys goods or services. However, there are certain conditions to it. Not every person is a consumer. Any person who buys goods or services for commercial use is not a consumer. Only those who buy goods or services for personal use or for use in self-employment are consumers in the eyes of law. Persons who use goods or services bought by another person are also consumers, but only if they do so with consent of such person.
Conditions for Filing a Consumer Case
The following persons can make a complaint under this Act.
- Any consumer as per the Act or his legal heirs
- A Voluntary Consumer Association
- The Central or State Government, or
- More than one consumer when there is a large number of consumers with the same interest in the case.
Moreover, a complaint can be made in following cases.
- Defective goods or deficient services.
- Unfair practices by the trader or service provider.
- Hazardous goods or services.
- Charging excess price from consumers.
A consumer dispute will arise when the opposing party denies the claims made in the complaint.
Procedure for Filing a Consumer Case
First and foremost, it is not necessary to hire a lawyer for consumer cases. However, if you are not well-versed with the entire process, you can choose to hire one. It is possible to search for a good lawyer for consumer cases through a online search. All you need to do is specify your search parameters, and you will find an entire list of lawyers specializing in consumer law.
However, whether you hire a lawyer or file a complaint yourself, the procedure remains the same. There is no set format for filing a consumer case. This means that you or your lawyer can even file a complaint on plain paper. It can be sent by post to the appropriate forum or commission. Moreover, you need to keep in mind that before filing a complaint, you need to serve a legal notice to the other party. An outline of other details is below.
Consumer Case in District Consumer Forum
You or your lawyer can approach the district forum if the case involves a value up to Rs. 20 lakh. The court fee ranges between Rs. zero to Rs. 500. Every district will have such a forum and for matters up to Rs. 20 lakh, you will need to approach the district forum only, irrespective of the nature of the complaint. For instance, consumer cases in Delhi will get segregated according to the amount involved, and so will cases in Mumbai or any other city.
Consumer Case in the State Consumer Forum
You can approach the State forum if the amount is more than Rs. 20 lakh but less than Rs. 1 Crore. The court fee ranges between Rs. 2000 and 4000. You can also challenge the order of the district forum here.
Consumer Case in the National Commission
You can approach the national commission directly if the amount of the case is ore than Rs. 1 Crore. Moreover, you can also file an appeal against the order of State Forum within 30 days. The court fee is Rs. 5000 which is applicable only filing a complaint. This means that there is no fee for filing an appeal.
So, it's clear that filing a consumer case is an easy task. Therefore, in case of any kind of dissatisfaction with the goods or services that you have bought; you can file a consumer complaint to make full use of your rights under the Consumer Protection Act.