Sunday, November 23, 2014

Consumer Protection Act: Consumer Dispute and Redressal Agencies

Consumer Dispute
Section 2 (1) (e) provides "consumer dispute" means a dispute where the person against whom a complaint has been made, denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint;
A Consumer dispute would arise when there is a complaint by a consumer and the person against whom the complaint has been made denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint.
When a material proposition of fact or law is affirmed by one of the party and denied by the other, the issues arise and Court frames those issues in the form of questions. Each of such allegations made by the Complainant and denied by the defendant becomes a “consumer dispute.

CONSUMER PROTECTION COUNCILS
The consumer Protection Act provides for the constitution of consumer protection councils at Central, State and District levels.
1.    The Central Consumer Protection Council: The Central Government may, by notification, establish with effect from such date as it may specify in such notification, a council to be known as the Central Consumer Protection Council (hereinafter referred to as the Central Council).
Membership:

a)      The Minister in charge of consumer affairs in the Central Government, who shall be its Chairman, and
b)      Such number of other official or non-official members representing such interests as may be prescribed.
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 2[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 1[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 1[or restrictive trade practices] or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
f)       The right to consumer education.

2.    The State Consumer Protection Councils
The State Government may, by notification, establish with effect from such date as it may specify in such notification, a council to be known as the Consumer Protection Council (hereinafter referred to as the State Council).
Membership:
a.       The Minister in-charge of consumer affairs in the State Government who shall be its Chairman;
b.      Such number of other official or non-official members representing such interests as may be prescribed by the State Government.

Objects of state council:
The objects of every State Council shall be to promote and protect within the State the rights of the consumers laid down in clauses (a) to (f) of section 6. (Objects of National Council)

3.       The District Consumer Protection Council
Section 8-A as inserted by the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002
The State government shall establish for every district, by notification, a council to be known as the District Consumer Protection Council
Membership
The District Consumer Protection Council (hereinafter referred to as the District Council) shall consist of the following members:
a.       The collector of the district (by whatever name called) who shall be its Chairman; and
b.      Such number of other official and non-official members representing such interest as maybe described by the state government.
Objects of the District Council:
The Objects of every District Council shall be to promote and protect within the district the rights of consumers laid down in the clause (a) to (f) of Section 6 (National Consumer Protection Council)

ESTABLISHMENT OF CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL AGENCIES
There shall be established for the purposes of this Act, the following agencies, namely,-
a)      A District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum to be known as the "District Forum" established by the State Government   in each district of the State by notification. The State Government may, if it deems fit, establish more than one District Forum in a district;
b)      A State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to be known as the "State Commission" established by the State Government in the State by notification; and
c)       A National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission established by the Central Government by notification.

CONSUMER COURTS AS PER VALUE / AREA OF CLAIM
The Consumer courts are 3 tiered.
1.       District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums:  At the lowest level are the District Forums and these are established in each District and have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods or services and the compensation if any, claimed does not exceed Rs.20,00,000 (TWENTY LAKHS), and a complaint can be filed in a District Forum within the local limits of which
a.       The opposite party resides or
b.      Carries on his business or works for gain or
c.       Where the cause of action arises.
2.       State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The State Consumer Disputes Redress Commission is established in each state and these have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods or services and the compensation if any, claimed exceeds Rs.20,00,000 (TWENTY LAKHS) but does not exceed Rs.1,00,00,000 (ONE CRORE).

3.       National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation if any claimed exceeds Rs.1,00,00,000 (ONE CRORE)

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