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The Consumer courts exist to address consumers grievances, any aggrieved consumer can file a plaint in this court.

  1. Introduction
  2. Types of consumer court
  3. Jurisdiction
  4. Composition
  5. Power and function

 

Introduction

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (COPRA) was passed by the Indian parliament and came into force on December 1986. The Act was passed to protect the consumers’ interest as well as to establish state bodies to deal with consumer problems and anything that arises thereof. Consumer courts were established as Consumer Dispute Resolution Agencies and they deal with consumer disputes, conflicts and grievances. It is a forum where a consumer may file a case against a seller in the case where the consumer feels that he has been cheated or exploited by the seller. The point of having a separate forum for consumer disputes is to ensure that such disputes are speedily resolved and make is less expensive.

Types of Consumer Courts

COPRA provides for the formation of consumer courts, under the Act there are three tiers of Consumer Courts they are as follows:

  1. District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum (DCDRF):

The DCDRF operates at a district level and takes on any consumer dispute where the appellants claim for compensation does not exceed 20 lakh rupees.

  1. State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (SCDRC):

The SCDRC operates at a state level and takes on any consumer dispute where the appellants claim for compensation exceeds the amount of 20 lakhs but does not exceed 1 crore rupees.

  1. National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC):

The NCDRC is the apex court and takes on any consumer dispute where the appellants claim for compensation exceeds the amount of 1 crore rupees.

Jurisdiction

The jurisdictions of the courts are based on the hierarchy of the courts;

  1. Pecuniary Jurisdiction:
  • The District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum has the pecuniary jurisdiction of up to an amount that does not exceed 20 lakhs.
  • The State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has the pecuniary jurisdiction where the claim exceeds 20 lakhs but does not exceed 1 crore rupees.
  • The Nation Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has the pecuniary jurisdiction where the claim exceeds the amount of 1 crore rupees.
  1. Territorial Jurisdiction:

Territorial jurisdiction is to be taken into consideration after establishing pecuniary jurisdiction. A complaint may be filed in the court that is within those local limits where;

  • When the opposite party voluntarily resides in or works in those local limits.
  • Where the cause of action arises from.

To determine where the cause of action arises you can apply the same laws applicable to contract law.

  • Territorial jurisdiction when a transaction was done online.

Transactions done online effectively negates territorial jurisdiction. In this case, territorial jurisdiction is in any of the multiple places the cause of action arises, which also includes where the appellant resides.

  1. Appellate Jurisdiction:
  • If a consumer is not satisfied by the decision made by the district forum they may make an appeal to the state commission.
  • If the consumer is aggrieved by the decision made by the state commission they may appeal to the national commission.
  • If a consumer is not satisfied by the decision made by the national commission they may approach the Supreme Court for an appeal.

Composition

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides for the composition of each of the courts.

  1. District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum:

Each district forum is to consist of;

  • a person who is, or has been, or is qualified to be a District Judge, who shall be its President;
  • two other members, who shall be persons of ability, integrity and standing, and have adequate knowledge or experience of, or have shown capacity in dealing with, problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration, one of whom shall be a woman.
  1. State Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum:

Each State Commission shall consist of –

  • a person who is or has been a Judge of a High Court, appointed by the State Government, who shall be its President :

Provided that no appointment under this clause shall be made except after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court;

  • two other members, who shall be persons of ability, integrity and standing and have adequate knowledge or experience of, or have shown capacity in dealing with problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration, one of whom shall be a woman :

Provided that every appointment made under this clause shall be made by the State Government on the recommendation of a selection committee consisting of the following, namely:-

(i) President of the State Commission – Chairman,

(ii) Secretary of the Law Department of the State – Member,

(iii) Secretary, in-charge of Department dealing with consumer affairs in the State – Member.

  1. National Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum:

The National Commission shall consist of –

  • a person who is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court, to be appointed by the Central Government, who shall be its President :

Provided that no appointment under this clause shall be made except after consultation with the Chief Justice of India;

  • four other members who shall be persons of ability, integrity and standing and have adequate knowledge or experience of, or have shown capacity in dealing with, problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy. industry, public affairs or administration, one of whom shall be a woman :

Provided that every appointment made under this clause shall be made by the Central Government on the recommendation of a selection committee consisting of the following, namely:-

  • A person who is a Judge of the Supreme Court to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India – Chairman,
  • The Secretary in the Department of Legal Affairs in the Government of India – Member,
  • Secretary of the Department dealing with consumer affairs in the Government of India – Member.

Powers and Functions

The powers and functions of the commission are enumerated in section 4 of the act. Section 4(1) states the functions as follows.

  1. Functions :
  • Advisory role to ministers of general consumer issues.
  • Formulation and implementation of consumer protection policies
  • Carry out investigation upon the complaint of an aggrieved consumer into the selling of goods or provision of service so as to determine whether the complaining consumer was genuinely aggrieved.
  • Carry out an investigation of its own initiative.
  • Promote the development of organizations formed for the protection of consumers
  • Collect, analyse and publish information on any trade or business.
  • Educate consumers on their rights
  • Resolve disputes between consumers and providers
  • Carry such functions as the minister may direct from time to time.
  1. Powers:

The consumer commission has the power to do anything that it deems to be necessary for it to meet and perform its functions. It may take any action that it may so deem advantageous or convenient for or in connection with carrying out its functions or to be incidental to their proper discharge and may carry on any activities in that behalf either alone or in association with any other person or body.

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