Protecting the Interests of the Consumer
The provisions of the Consumer Protection Act provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and for that purpose there are further provisions contained in the Act for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matter connected therewith. Filing a complaint before the Consumer Protection Council is the most important step before seeking or claiming an award. A complaint is an allegation in writing made by a complainant, i.e., consumer that he or she has suffered loss or damage as a result of any deficiency of service. A complaint may be filed by the consumer or any recognized consumer association, i.e., voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or any other law for the time being in force, whether the consumer is a member of such association or not, or the central or state government.
“A complaint is an allegation in writing made by a complainant, i.e., consumer that he or she has suffered loss or damage as a result of any deficiency of service”
It is very important to collect all the relevant documents before the submission of the complaint as this will help you to establish the veracity of your complaint.
It is worthwhile to write a letter, preferably under registered A.D. cover, to the other party before submitting the complaint to consumer court, keeping them apprised of the substance of the complaint and also asking them for any rectification, giving them a period of about 15 days for such rectification.
The complaint has to be a proper and regular complaint. It should not be a mere letter to the consumer court as it will not serve any purpose.
Whether to seek the assistance of a lawyer or not, to prepare the complaint and to pursue it in the Court, is to be determined by yourself. This may not be necessary as you, being the aggrieved party and well aware of the facts and circumstances, may yourself be able to meet the requirements.
The complaint should be neatly typed. It should contain a complete and full presentation of the entire case including mentioning of any letters which may have been sent to the “other party” for the redressal of the complaint, and the replies received. At the time of filing of the complaint only photocopies of all relevant documents are required to be attached along with the complaint.
Six copies of the complaint, along with photocopies of the documents, are normally required to be submitted to the consumer court. Submission of the complaint should be made either in person or through registered A.D cover.
On receiving the complaint, normally the court would issue a notice to the “other party”, giving 30 days time for submission of reply of the complaint. But the next date of appearance will depend on the number of cases pending in the court, as the consumer courts are already overburdened with the work due to the awareness among people about their rights.
The complaint is required to contain specification of the loss or damage that may have been caused to the complainant, and on that basis itself it should contain the specific demand for remedy of the defect/replacement of the product as well as any other award or appropriate compensation as the court may deem fit. It will be for the complainant to specify the amount of compensation demanded giving reasons and justification for the demand. It should neither be vague nor unjustified as rules under the provisions of this Act are to safeguard the interests of the consumers who may have been cheated or have suffered a loss due to the oversmartness of the seller or service provider. The Act is not to be misused by anybody.
If the complaint relates to any goods which are considered hazardous to life, the complainant can make a request for the issue of order directing that the “other party” should not offer such goods for sale to the consumers and should also withdraw the goods already placed in the market to avoid any further loss or damage that might be caused to anybody.
The complaint should be accompanied by an affidavit stating specifically that the contents of the complaint are true and correct to the knowledge of the complainant and also that accompanying copies of the documents are true copies.