1. Who is a consumer?
Section 2(d) of the Act defines consumer as:
"consumer" means any person who—
(i) buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment when such use is made with the approval of such person, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose; or
(ii)hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who 'hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first mentioned person but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial purposes.
A person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purposes will not be a consumer. However, if such goods are bought by a person exclusively for the purpose of earning his livelihood by means of self-employment then such a person will be considered as a consumer.
2. When the complaints can be made to consumer forum?
Section 2 (c) defines complaint. A complaint can be made in writing under the following circumstances:
(a). the article purchased by a consumer is defective.
Section 2(f) defines defect as,
"defect" means any fault, imperfection or shortcoming in the quality, quantity, potency, purity or standard which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force under any contract, express or implied or as is claimed by the trader in any manner whatsoever in relation to any goods;
(b). If the services availed of by a consumer suffer from any deficiency.
Section 2(g) defines deficiency as
"deficiency" means any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service.
(c). When the price paid by a consumer is in excess of the price displayed on the goods or when the price is in excess of the price fixed under any law in force.
(d).Goods and service, which will be hazardous to life and safety, when used, are being offered for sale to the public in contravention of the provisions of any law.
3. What are the reliefs provided under that Act?
The District Forum / State Commission under section 13 of the Act can order the following reliefs:
. To remove the defects in the goods pointed out.
. To replace the goods.
· To return to the complainant the price of the goods
· To pay such amount of compensation for the loss or injury suffered by the consumer.
· To remove the defects or deficiency in the services
· To discontinue the unfair trade practice or not to repeat it
· To withdraw the hazardous goods from being offered for sale
· To provide the cost of expenditure incurred by the complainant.
4. What is the procedure for filing a complaint and the steps till the final orders?
Any person who can be termed as a consumer under the Act can make a complaint. The following are the persons who can file a complaint under the Act :a consumer; or any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or under any other law for the time being in force, or the Central Government or any State Government,one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest; or in case of death of a consumer , his legal heir or representatives. (Section 2(b) definition of complainant).
To file the complaint (Section 12 - Manner in which complaint should be made):
· Complaint is to be filed within two years of buying the product or using the service.
· Complaint needs to be in writing.
· The complaint should mention the name and address of the person who is complaining and against whom the complaint is being filed. Copies of relevant documents must be enclosed.
· The consumer must mention details of the problem and the demand for redressal.
· Submit the complaint and court fee to the receiving clerk in the consumer court who will give you the date for admission hearing and complaint reference number
· On admission hearing, the complainant would be informed whether or not the matter is admitted within 21 days. If admitted he will be given the date for next hearing.
· The court will send a notice with in 21 days of admission of the complaint to the opposite party seeking reply within 30 days, and asking it to attend the hearing.
(Section 13 - Procedure on admission of complaint.)
· The hearings will continue till the matter is decided.
· A copy of the court order will be communicated to all the parties by registered post.
5. What is the hierarchical or pecuniary jurisdiction of the three-tier consumer grievance machinery ?
THREE TIER CONSUMER GRIEVANCES MACHINERY UNDER THE ACT
1. DISTRICT FORUM:- District forum consists of a president and two other members. The president can be a retired or working judge of District court. They are appointed by state government (Section 10 ). The complaints for goods or services worth Rs. 20 lakhs or less can be filled in this agency. If the aggrieved is not satisfied by the jurisdiction of the district forum then they can file an appeal against the judgment in State commission within 30 days by depositing 25000 or 50% of penalty amount which ever is less ( Section 15 ).
2. STATE COMMISSION:- It consist of a president and two other members. The president must be a retied or working judge of high court. They all are appointed by State government (Section 16 ) .The complaints for the goods worth more than 20 lakhs and less than 1 crore can be filed in State commission on receiving complaint the State commission contracts the party against whom the complaint is filed and send the goods for testing in laboratory if required. In case the aggrieved party is not satisfied with the judgment then they can file an appeal in national commission within 30 days by depositing Rs. 35000 or 50 % of penalty amount which ever is less (Section 19 ).
3.NATIONAL COMMISSION:- The commission consists of a president and four members one of whom shall be a woman. They are appointed by central Government (Section 20). The complaint can be filed in National commission if the value of goods exceed Rs. 1 crore. On receiving the complaint the National commission informs the party against whom complaint is filed and sends the goods for testing if required and gives judgment. If party is not satisfied with the judgment then they can file a complain in Supreme court within 30 days ( Section 23 )