When we go shopping or buy stuff online, we are termed as consumers. We all are consumers in our day to day function in some way or the other. There are times when we face a violation of our rights as a consumer. These right violations may include getting inferior goods, less quantity of the good, high priced goods and many more. In such a case of Consumer Rights violation, the government in 2019 decided to pass a law which ensures the protection of the rights of the consumers. On 7th August 2019, the Consumer Protection Act,2019 was passed, and the same came into effect on 20th July 2020 replacing the old Customer Protection Act, 1986. The objective behind this is the protection of the rights and the interests of the consumer.
According to Section (1)(7)of the Consumer Protection Act, "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 service 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 service 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 service for any commercial purpose.
Under Section 2(6) of the Act, the "complaint" is defined as any allegation in writing, made by a complainant for obtaining the relief provided under the act in case of unfair trade practices, defects in goods, deficiency in service, excess price of goods and services, selling of hazardous goods. The complainant can also claim product liability against the manufacturer or service producer.
Where can a consumer file his complaint depending on the value of the transaction? District forums deal with a complaint where the value of the transaction is below 20 lakhs. We have a State Commission for dealing cases where the value is from 20 Lakh to 1 Crore. The National Commission deals with cases of complaints of value above one crore, and at the apex, we have the Supreme Court.
There were a lot of additions in the new act and among them is the introduction of the “online filing” of consumer complaints.
The first step is the issuance of notice: Before the filing of the complaint, the complainant shall first issue a legal notice to the opposite party regarding the service provided. If the parties don't agree to come to a mutual consensus, then the complainant can file a complaint.
The second step is determining the jurisdiction.
The complaint has to file within the Pecuniary Jurisdiction(which includes the district commissions, state commissions and the national commission) or within the Territorial Jurisdiction (the place where the opposite party resides or if there are more than one party, then the place where opposite parties reside or carry on business or personally works for gain).
The third step is the submission of the complaint: The complaint can be submitted in the form of writing or through the online mode.
The fourth step is the content of the complaint.
The complaint should contain the following information.
The fifth step is the Limitation for filing complaint/ Appeal:
The complaint before the District Commission needs to be filed within two years from the date of the dispute. Appeals before the State Commission to be filed within 45 days from the date of order of district commission. Further appeals before to the National Commission should be made within 30 days from the date of the order from the lower forum.
The last step is the payment of the court fees.
If a person has committed a crime and is found guilty, then the criminal law prescribes the minimum and the maximum punishment that can be given to a person charged of that part
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