Drafting a Consumer Complaint How to plead your case before the district forum

Overview: Assuming you have already served the other party with a legal notice which has not been complied with, you decide to approach the consumer forum in order to seek redressal for your grievance. You must know a few things including, which particular forum to approach and how to go ahead with your case. 

Purpose: The purpose of this article is to serve as guide in understating what a basic draft of a consumer complaint is. 

Areas of Application of Law: Consumer Protection Act, 1986 

Process:

Step 1: you need to decide the jurisdiction and approach the particular forum accordingly. 

Jurisdiction is decided on 2 aspects, namely territorial and pecuniary. 

A complaint shall be instituted in a District Forum within the local limits of whose jurisdiction,—

(a) The opposite party or each of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, or

(b) Any of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides, or carries on business or has a branch office, or personally works for gain, provided that in such case either the permission of the District Forum is given, or the opposite parties who do not reside, or carry on business or have a branch office, or personally work for gain, as the case may be, acquiesce in such institution; or

(c) The cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.  

Subject to the other provisions of the Act, the State Commission shall have jurisdiction to entertain   complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees twenty lakhs but does not exceed rupees one crore; Further, a complaint shall be instituted in a State Commission within the limits of whose jurisdiction,—

(a) The opposite party or each of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain; or

(b) Any of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides, or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, provided that in such case either the permission of the State Commission is given or the opposite parties who do not reside or carry on business or have a branch office or personally work for gain, as the case may be, acquiesce in such institution; or

(c) The cause of action, wholly or in part, arises. 

Where the value exceeds Rs. 1 crore, the consumer can directly approach the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission 

STEP 2: Now that you know where to go, you must ascertain the fee to be paid. You must know that you will have to pay specific amount of fee as a demand draft in favour of the registrar of the concerned consumer forum. The fee structure for Delhi is given on the website of delhi state commission that can be accessed on:  http://delhistatecommission.nic.in/ 

STEP 3: Now that you know where to go and what to pay, you must see if you are within time to approach the selected forum. 

You must approach the selected/ appropriate forum with two years from the day the deficiency in service arose or defect in goods was detected. In legal parlance, we say that the limitation period for filing the consumer complaint is 2 years from the date of cause of action. There are cases where the cause of action may be continuous or delay in approaching the consumer forum can be condoned, however, such condonation depends upon the facts of each case and is not a rule. 

STEP 4: drafting your complaint

Even though there is not set format which is prescribed for filing a consumer complaint and such it can be filed even on plain paper, there is a certain way in which one must draft and read the complaint. The services of an Advocate are not required hoever the complaint has to be clear and to the point. All relevant facts must be stated clearly. Half documents should be avoided.

The complaint must haver atitle, memo of parties i.e. information and particulars of both the complainant as well as that of the respondents. The time/ approximate date when the cause of action arore along with the place where it arose. The complaint must indicate the responsibility of the opposite parties in order to make them liable for any deficiency that they may have caused. Documents in support along with their proper index must be filed. You must show that the particular consumer forum has the jurisdiction to entertain your complaint, you are within the limitation period and must claim relief including compensation if any. In case you are filing the complaint with delay then an application seeking condonation of delay by giving appropriate reason has to be filed additionally. 

Documents required to be submitted in the court:

  • Vakaltnama (if filing through an advocate)
  • Power of attorney when complaint is filed through an authorized representative
  • Any legal notice sent by you and the reply if received
  • Documents supporting your case 

Punishment/Expected Relief: compensation or cure of the deficiency alleged

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