Topics Covered: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
What to study?
For Prelims: Dispute redressal mechanism under Consumer Protection Act, various bodies, composition, ambit and appeals.
For Mains: Significance and the need for dispute redressal mechanism.
Context: A district consumer disputes redressal forum in New Delhi has directed e-commerce platform Flipkart to compensate a complainant by paying over ₹11,000 for delivering a defective mobile handset and failing to redress the grievance.
Dispute redressal under Consumer Protection Act, 1986:
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides for a 3-tier structure of the National and State Commissions and District Forums for speedy resolution of consumer disputes. They are quasi- judicial bodies.
Composition: Each District Forum is headed by a person who is or has been or is eligible to be appointed as a District Judge and each State Commission is headed by a person who is or has been a Judge of High Court.
The provisions of this Act cover ‘goods’ as well as ‘services’. The goods are those which are manufactured or produced and sold to consumers through wholesalers and retailers. The services are in the nature of transport, telephone, electricity, housing, banking, insurance, medical treatment, etc.
How Grievance redressal is carried out?
A written complaint, can be filed before the District Consumer Forum for pecuniary value of upto Rupees twenty lakh, State Commission for value upto Rupees one crore and the National Commission for value above Rupees one crore, in respect of defects in goods and or deficiency in service.
- However, no complaint can be filed for alleged deficiency in any service that is rendered free of charge or under a contract of personal service.
- The remedy under the Consumer Protection Act is an alternative in addition to that already available to the aggrieved persons/consumers by way of civil suit.
- In the complaint/appeal/petition submitted under the Act, a consumer is not required to pay any court fees but only a nominal fee.
- If a consumer is not satisfied by the decision of a District Forum, he can appeal to the State Commission. Against the order of the State Commission a consumer can come to the National Commission.
- In order to help achieve the objects of the Consumer Protection Act, the National Commission has also been conferred with the powers of administrative control over all the State Commissions by calling for periodical returns regarding the institution, disposal and pendency of cases.
As per the latest Consumer Protection Act , 2019 dispute redressal Commissions will be set up at District, State and National level, with pecuniary jurisdiction up to Rs one crore, Rs one crore to Rs 10 crore, and above Rs 10 crore, respectively. In case of unfair contracts, the State Commissions will hear complaints where the value is up to Rs 10 crore, and National Commissions will hear complaints above that value. These Commissions can declare unfair terms of such contracts to be null and void.
- National vs State Commissions vs District Dispute redressal Forums, their compositions.
- Ambit, jurisdiction of the courts and Appeals.
- Need for Court fees.
Write a note on consumer dispute redressal mechanism under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
Sources: the Hindu.