In an earlier post here , we have discussed how to prepare a consumer complaint. The post shall enumerate the number of rights available to a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act,1986. The basic right available to a consumer is to file a consumer complaint before an appropriate authority and seek grievance of his complaint –
- Right to be informed
Section 6, Consumer Protection Act,1986 provides that the objects of the Central Council shall be to promote and protect the rights of the consumers such as-
(a) the right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;
(b) the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be, so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;
(c) the right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices;
(d) the right to be heard and to be assured that consumers’ interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;
(e) the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
(f) the right to consumer education.
2. Reliefs against a Consumer Complaint –
Section 14 , Consumer Protection Act,1986 provides that the following orders to the opposite party directing him to do one or more of the things may be issued –
(a) to remove the defect pointed out by the appropriate laboratory from the goods in question;
(b) to replace the goods with new goods of similar description which shall be free from any defect;
(c) to return to the complainant the price, or, as the case may be, the charges paid by the complainant;
(d) to pay such amount as may be awarded by it as compensation to the consumer for any loss or injury suffered by the consumer due to the negligence of the opposite party.
Provided that the District Forum shall have the power to grant punitive damages in such circumstances as it deems fit;
(e) to remove the defects in goods or deficiencies in the services in question;
(f) to discontinue the unfair trade practice or the restrictive trade practice or not to repeat it;
(g) not to offer the hazardous goods for sale;
(h) to withdraw the hazardous goods from being offered for sale;
(ha)to cease manufacture of hazardous goods and to desist from offering services which are hazardous in nature;
(hb)to pay such sum as may be determined by it if it is of the opinion that loss or injury has been suffered by a large number of consumers who are not identifiable conveniently:
Provided that the minimum amount of sum so payable shall not be less than five per cent of the value of such defective goods sold or service provided, as the case may be, to such consumers:
Provided further that the amount so obtained shall be credited in favour of such person and utilized in such manner as may be prescribed;
(hc)to issue corrective advertisement to neutralize the effect of misleading advertisement at the cost of the opposite party responsible for issuing such misleading advertisement;
(i) to provide for adequate costs to parties.
These are the various reliefs which may be granted in favour of the consumer upon filing of a consumer complaint.
3. Right to file appeals-
The consumer has been vested with the right to file appeals as –
- Appeal to the State Commission under Section 15, against an order made by the District Forum ;
- Appeal to the National Commission under Section 19, against an order made by the State Commission ;
- Appeal to the Supreme Court under Section 23, against an order made by the National Commission.
4. Right against frivolous or vexatious complaints-
Section 26, Consumer Protection Act,1986 provides that where a complaint instituted before the District Forum, the State Commission or, as the case may be, the National Commission, is found to be frivolous or vexatious, it shall, for reasons to be recorded in writing,
- dismiss the complaint and
- make an order that the complainant shall pay to the opposite party such cost, not exceeding ten thousand rupees, as may be specified in the order.
5. Right to the informal nature of proceedings
Consumer Protection Regulations, 2005 also enumerate some of the rights of the consumers as follows-
- Regulation 26(1) provides that in all proceedings before the Consumer Forum, endeavour shall be made by the parties and their counsel to avoid the use of provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Proviso to Regulation 26 (1) provides that the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 may be applied which have been referred to in the Act or in the rules made thereunder.
- Regulation 26(3) provides that The Consumer Forum shall give proper respect and courtesy to the parties who appear in person and shall provide separate accommodation in the Hall for the convenience of the parties.
- Regulation 26(4) provides that the Consumer Forum shall not insist upon the parties to engage advocates.
- Regulation 26(6) provides that the cases filed by or against the senior citizens, physically challenged, widows and persons suffering from serious ailments shall be listed and disposed of on a priority basis.
6. Right to the expeditious disposal of the Consumer Complaint and Appeals
Section 13(3A) provides that every complaint shall be heard as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall be made to decide the complaint –
- within a period of three months from the date of receipt of notice by opposite party where the complaint does not require analysis or testing of commodities and
- within five months if it requires analysis or testing of commodities.
Proviso to Section 13(3A) provides that no adjournment shall be ordinarily granted by the District Forum unless sufficient cause is shown and the reasons for the grant of adjournment have been recorded in writing by the Forum.
Similarly, the appeals must be disposed of expeditiously as follows-
Section 19 A provides that an appeal filed before the State Commission or the National Commission shall be heard as expeditiously as possible and an endeavour shall be made to finally dispose of the appeal within a period of ninety days from the date of its admission
7. Right to claim Cost of Adjournment
Regulation 11 deals with adjournment –
- The Consumer Forum shall record the reasons for any adjournment made by it.
- The cost of adjournment, if asked by the opposite party or parties, shall not be less than five hundred rupees per adjournment and could be more depending upon the value and nature of the complaint as may be decided by the Consumer Forum.
- The complainant, appellant or petitioner, as the case may be, may also be burdened with cost unless sufficient cause is shown for seeking an adjournment. The amount of cost imposed may be less than five hundred rupees but in no case less than one hundred rupees.
- The cost imposed may be given to the other party or parties to defray his or their expenses or be deposited in the Consumer Legal Aid Account to be maintained by the respective Consumer Forum, as the Consumer Forum may order.
- If any adjournment is granted without awarding cost, the order sheet shall mention the reasons thereof.
- Non-availability of a lawyer who is representing the party shall not be a ground for seeking an adjournment of the matter unless the absence is beyond the control of the lawyer such as his sudden illness or bereavement in the family.
8. Enforcement of the orders
Section 25 (3) provides that where any amount is due from any person under an order made by a District Forum, State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, the person entitled to the amount may make an application to the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, and such District Forum or the State Commission or the National Commission may issue a certificate for the said amount to the Collector of the district (by whatever name called) and the Collector shall proceed to recover the amount in the same manner as arrears of land revenue.
9. Interim orders and their enforcement-
Section 13 (3B) provides that where during the pendency of any proceeding before the District Forum, it appears to it necessary, it may pass such interim order as is just and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case.
Section 25 (1) provides that where an interim order made under this Act, is not complied with the District Forum or the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, may order the property of the person, not complying with such order to be attached.
Image from here