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CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL AGENCIES

1. Establishment of Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies.—

  1. There shall be established for the purposes of this Act, the following agencies, namely:—

    1. a Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum to be known as the "District Forum" established by the State Government in each district of the State by notification: Provided that the State Government may, if it deems fit, establish more than one District Forum in a district
    2. a Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to be known as the "State Commission" established by the State Government in the State by notification; and
    3. a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission established by the Central Government by notification.

2. Composition of the District Forum. —

  1. Each District Forum shall consist of,—

    1. a person who is, or has been, or is qualified to be a District Judge, who shall be its President;
    2. two other members, one of whom shall be a woman, who shall have the following qualifications, namely:—

    1. be not less than thirty-five years of age,
    2. possess a bachelor's degree from a recognised university,
    3. be persons of ability, integrity and standing, and have adequate knowledge and experience of at least ten years in dealing with problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration:
    Provided that a person shall be disqualified for appointment as a member if he—

    1. has been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an offence which, in the opinion of the state Government involves moral turpitude; or
    2. is an undischarged insolvent; or
    3. is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court; or
    4. has been removed or dismissed from the service of the Government or a body corporate owned or controlled by the Government; or
    5. has, in the opinion of the state Government, such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially the discharge by him of his functions as a member; or
    6. has such other disqualifications as may be prescribed by the State Government;

  1. A. Every appointment under sub-section (I) shall be made by the State Government on the recommendation of a selection committee consisting of the following, namely:—

    1. the President of the State Commission — Chairman.
    2. Secretary, Law Department of the State — Member.
    3. Secretary incharge of the Department dealing with consumer affairs in the State —Member.
    Provided that where the President of the State Commission is, by reason of absence or otherwise, unable to act as Chairman of the Selection Committee, the State Government may refer the matter to the Chief Justice of the High Court for nominating a sitting Judge of that High Court to act as Chairman.
  2. Every member of the District Forum shall hold office for a term of five years or up to the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier:
  3. Provided that a member shall be eligible for re-appointment for another term of five years or up to the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier, subject to the condition that he fulfills the qualifications and other conditions for appointment mentioned in clause (b) of sub-section (1) and such re-appointment is also made on the basis of the recommendation of the Selection Committee:

    Provided further that a member may resign his office in writing under his hand addressed to the State Government and on such resignation being accepted, his office shall become vacant and may be filled by appointment of a person possessing any of the qualifications mentioned in sub-section (1) in relation to the category of the member who is required to be appointed under the provisions of sub-section (1A) in place of the person who has resigned: Provided also that a person appointed as the President or as a member, before the commencement of the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002, shall continue to hold such office as President or member, as the case may be, till the completion of his term.
  4. The salary or honorarium and other allowances payable to, and the other terms and conditions of service of the members of the District Forum shall be such as may be prescribed by the State Government.
  5. Provided that the appointment of a member on whole-time basis shall be made by the State Government on the recommendation of the President of the State Commission taking into consideration such factors as may be prescribed including the work load of the District Forum.

3. Jurisdiction of the District Forum.—

  1. Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the District Forum shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed ''does not exceed rupees twenty lakhs.
  2. A complaint shall be instituted in a District Forum within the local limits of whose jurisdiction,—

    1. 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
    2. 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
    3. the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.

4. Manner in which complaint shall be made.—

  1. A complaint in relation to any goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or any service provided or agreed to be provided may be filed with a District Forum by –

    1. the consumer to whom such goods are sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or such service provided or agreed to be provided;
    2. any recognised consumer association whether the consumer to whom the goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or service provided or agreed to be provided is a member of such association or not;
    3. one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest, with the permission of the District Forum, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, all consumers so interested; or
    4. the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, either in its individual capacity or as a representative of interests of the consumers in general.
  2. Every complaint filed under sub-section (1) shall be accompanied with such amount of fee and payable in such manner as may be prescribed.
  3. On receipt of a complaint made under sub-section (1), the District Forum may, by order, allow the complaint to be proceeded with or rejected:

  4. Provided that a complaint shall not be rejected under this section unless an opportunity of being heard has been given to the complainant:
    Provided further that the admissibility of the complaint shall ordinarily be decided within twenty-one days from the date on which the complaint was received.
  5. Where a complaint is allowed to be proceeded with under sub-section (3), the District Forum may proceed with the complaint in the manner provided under this Act:

  6. Provided that where a complaint has been admitted by the District Forum, it shall not be transferred to any other court or tribunal or any authority set up by or under any other law for the time being in force. Explanation. - For the purpose of this section “recognised consumer association” means any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or any other law for the time being in force”.


5. Procedure on admission of complaint. —

  1. The District Forum shall, on admission of a complaint, if it relates to any goods,—

    1. refer a copy of the admitted complaint, within twenty-one days from the date of its admission to the opposite party mentioned in the complaint directing him to give his version of the case within a period of thirty days or such extended period not exceeding fifteen days as may be granted by the District Forum;
    2. where the opposite party on receipt of a complaint referred to him under clause (a) denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint, or omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time given by the District Forum, the District Forum shall proceed to settle the consumer dispute in the manner specified in clauses (c) to (g);
    3. refer a copy of the admitted complaint, within twenty-one days from the date of its admission to the opposite party mentioned in the complaint directing him to give his version of the case within a period of thirty days or such extended period not exceeding fifteen days as may be granted by the District Forum;
    4. where the opposite party on receipt of a complaint referred to him under clause (a) denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint, or omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time given by the District Forum, the District Forum shall proceed to settle the consumer dispute in the manner specified in clauses (c) to (g);
    5. before any sample of the goods is referred to any appropriate laboratory under clause (c), the District Forum may require the complainant to deposit to the credit of the Forum such fees as may be specified, for payment to the appropriate laboratory for carry¬ing out the necessary analysis or test in relation to the goods in question;
    6. the District Forum shall remit the amount deposited to its credit under clause (d) to the appropriate laboratory to enable it to carry out the analysis or test mentioned in clause (c) and on receipt of the report from the appropriate laboratory, the District Forum shall forward a copy of the report along with such remarks as the District Forum may feel appropriate to the opposite party;
    7. if any of the parties disputes the correctness of the findings of the appropriate laboratory, or disputes the correctness of the meth¬ods of analysis or test adopted by the appropriate laboratory, the District Forum shall require the opposite party or the complain¬ant to submit in writing his objections in regard to the report made by the appropriate laboratory;
  2. the District Forum shall, if the complaint admitted by it under section 12 relates to goods in respect of which the procedure specified in sub-section (1) cannot be followed, or if the complaint relates to any services,—

    1. refer a copy of such complaint to the opposite party directing him to give his version of the case within a period of thirty days or such extended period not exceeding fifteen days as may be granted by the District Forum;
    2. where the opposite party, on receipt of a copy of the complaint, referred to him under clause (a) denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint, or omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time given by the District Forum, the District Forum shall proceed to settle the consumer dispute,—

      1. on the basis of evidence brought to its notice by the complainant and the opposite party, where the opposite party denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint, or
      2. ex parte on the basis of evidence brought to its notice by the complainant where the opposite party omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time given by the Forum.
    3. where the complainant fails to appear on the date of hearing before the District Forum, the District Forum may either dismiss the complaint for default or decide it on merits.
  3. No proceedings complying with the procedure laid down in sub¬sections [1] and [2] shall be called in question in any court on the ground that the principles of natural justice have not been complied with.

    3A.
    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:

    3B.
    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.

  4. For the purposes of this section, the District Forum shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 while trying a suit in respect of the following matters, namely:—

    1. the summoning and enforcing the attendance of any defendant or witness and examining the witness on oath;
    2. the discovery and production of any document or other material object producible as evidence;
    3. the reception of evidence on affidavits;
    4. the requisitioning of the report of the concerned analysis or test from the appropriate laboratory or from any other relevant source;
    5. issuing of any commission for the examination of any witness, and
    6. any other matter which may be prescribed.
  5. Every proceeding before the District Forum shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Code (45 of 1860), and the District Forum shall be deemed to be a civil court for the purposes of section 195, and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974).
  6. Where the complainant is a consumer referred to in sub-clause (iv) of clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 2, the provisions of rule 8 of Order I of the First Schedule to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) shall apply subject to the modification that every reference therein to a suit or decree shall be construed as a reference to a complaint or the order of the District Forum thereon.
  7. In the event of death of a complainant who is a consumer or of the opposite party against whom the complaint has been filed, the provisions of Order XXII of the First Schedule to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) shall apply subject to the modification that every reference therein to the plaintiff and the defendant shall be construed as reference to a complainant or the opposite party, as the case may be.

6. Finding of the District Forum. —

  1. If, after the proceeding conducted under section 13, the District Forum is satisfied that the goods complained against suffer from any of the defects specified in the complaint or that any of the allegations contained in the complaint about the services are proved, it shall issue an order to the opposite party directing him to do one or more of the following things, namely:—

    1. to remove the defect pointed out by the appropriate laboratory from the goods in question;
    2. to replace the goods with new goods of similar description which shall be free from any defect;
    3. to return to the complainant the price, or, as the case may be, the charges paid by the complainant;
    4. 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.
      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:

    5. Provided that the District Forum shall have the power to grant punitive damages in such circumstances as it deems fit;
      Provided further that the amount so obtained shall be credited in favour of such person and utilized in such manner as may be prescribed;


7. Appeal. —

  1. Any person aggrieved by an order made by the District Forum may prefer an appeal against such order to the State Commission within a period of thirty days from the date of the order, in such form and manner as may be prescribed:

  2. Provided that the State Commission may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period of thirty days if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not finding it within that period.

    Provided further that no appeal by a person, who is required to pay any amount in terms of an order of the District Forum, shall be entertained by the State Commission unless the appellant has deposited in the prescribed manner fifty per cent. of that amount or twenty-five thousand rupees, whichever is less: