Consumer Awareness: Consumer Courts, Rights and Responsibility

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Consumer Courts

  • Consumer courts are quasi-judicial in nature and directly accountable to the people. There are three layers in Consumer Courts in India. Those are

  • District Consumer Forum (DCF): This is at bottom level. If any consumer has problem first they need to present the case in District Consumer Forum. There are more than 600 DCFs in India.

Ttile: Image of Rights of Consumer court

Image of Rights of Consumer Court

Ttile: Image of Rights of Consumer court

  • State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC): This is at middle level. If consumer did not satisfy with DCF judgement they can go to higher level i.e. SCDRC. There are 35 SCDRCs in the country.

  • National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC): This is at top level and called apex body in consumer courts. NCDRC’s decision is final. NCDRC provide cheap and speedy redressal mechanism.

How to File a Complaint?

Consumer has the right to file a complaint against seller or producer. But this can be utilized when he has proper reasons otherwise, he has to pay up to Rs.10000 as fine to the consumer court.

To file a complaint consumer must keep these things

  • Consumer should keep the cash memo, receipt or bill of the purchase.

  • Need to fill a form in order to file a complaint. Booklet is provided by CPA.

  • Consumer should mention under which category he is filing a complaint.

Ex: Unfair trade, Deficiency of service and Spoilage etc.

  • Need to explain the problem in simple words.

  • Should mention what he is expecting from seller or producer.

Ex: Replace of goods, Full refund or compensation etc.

  • Consumer need to attach all the documents as evidence. Three sets to be produced. One for complaint, one for opponent party and one for court.

  • To file a complaint consumer need to pay nominal fee in the form of Demand Draft.

  • The effected consumer can file a complaint either in person or with the help of representative. Sometimes he can send his complaint in letter also.

Redressal Mechanism

Once the complaint is filed under consumer protection act, that should be handled by consumer courts with stipulated period.

  • Complaint is valid if that is filed within 2 years of the date on which purchase on which defect occurs.

  • If service or purchase value is less than Rs. 20 lakhs, consumer can file a written complaint with District Consumer Forum.

  • If service value is more than Rs. 20 lakhs and less than Rs. 1 cr. consumer can approach SCDRC.

  • If service value is above Rs.1 cr. consumer can approach NCDRC.

  • As per CPA relief should be given within 90-150 days.

  • If consumer not satisfied with DCF decision he can file in higher court within 30 days.

Role of NGOs

NGOs help consumers, if they do not know how to file a complaint. Consumers can raise the issue by sending a mail or posting a letter or texting them.

Ex: NGOs

  • Consumer Grievance (www.consumergrievance.com),

  • Consumer Guidance Society of India (www.cgs_india.org),

  • Common Cause (www.commoncauseindia.org) and

  • Consumer Forum (www.consumer.org.in).

NGOs also conduct various programmes to educate consumers by advertisements, campaigns etc. Ex: Advertisements of Jago Grahak Jago.

Consumer Rights

Consumer has certain rights in front of law. If he found any bad service, he can file a complaint based on these rights.

  1. Right to Information: Seller or producer should provide required information to the consumer in order to avoid misunderstandings.

Ex: Details about quantity, expiry date, ingredients, how to use, trademarks and license number, contact info etc.

  1. Right to Choose: Consumer has right to decide which thing has to buy. He should not be forced by seller or producer.

  2. Right to safety: Seller should provide harms which are associated with consumption of products. Manufacturer should place danger symbols, harmful effects due to consumption.

Ex: Government mandate every cigarette pack should mention about causes of cancer.

  1. Right to Heard: Consumer has the right to raise his voice against any bad service. The consumer court should consider his interest.

  2. Right to Redressal: If the complaint of consumer is correct as per norms, he will get compensation, refund or replace.

Right to education: Consumer has the right to education in order to make decisions. Government and NGOs should provide awareness about those products by placing standard symbols like ISI, AGMARK, BIS etc.

Consumer Responsibility

  • Dealing with advertisement – consumer need to be cautious about misleading advertisements. They should understand entire add. They should read terms and conditions before taking any decision. At the same they should guide their children properly.

  • Buying quality products – consumer should buy standard tested products by identifying ISI, AGMARK etc.

  • Demand Bill of the purchase – Consumer should get bill for his purchase in order to help the government. Government levies tax on total sales they made. This is possible with bills only.

  • Being a Green Consumer – Consumers should not encourage products which damage environment. Ex: Consumer should ban the use of plastics.

  • Consumer as Manager – Every problem need not solved by courts. All consumers should form a team to solve their problem within the village.

Consumer Awareness in Rural India

  • Due to globalization many products are entering our markets. They are also available in rural areas. But bringing consumer awareness is a big task. That may lead to problems such as lack of warrantees and guarantees, imitation of products, fake brands, unreasonable pricing, lack of varieties and so on.

  • If consumer filed a complaint, time taken for delivery of justice sometimes may be more. In order to avoid the delay of justice the government amended CPA in 2003 to eliminate such delays.

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