District Redressal Forum: When, Why and the How
Drasti Jain, Government Law College, Mumbai
What is a District Forum?
A Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum established by the State Government in each district is known as the "District Forum". The District Forum deals with complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed is less than twenty lakhs.
How and when to approach the District Consumer Forum?
Illustration A: ‘Y’ received a defective good. He is confused about whether or not a consumer complaint can be filed by him for the receipt of faulty goods.
One can approach the District Consumer Forum in cases where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed is less than twenty lakhs.
A complaint may be made in writing under the following circumstances among others:
● Loss or damage is caused to the consumer due to unfair or restrictive trade practice of a trader or service provider;
● The article purchased by a consumer is defective;
● The services availed of by a consumer suffer from any deficiency;
● A trader or service provider, as the case may be, has charged for the goods or for the service mentioned in the complaint a price in excess of the stipulated price;
● Goods or services, which will be hazardous to life and safety, when used, are being offered for sale to the public.
Illustration B: ‘X’ wishes to file a consumer complaint about a faulty good that he bought at INR 45,000. He knows that he has to go to the District Consumer Forum but doesn’t know how to approach the court.
It is relatively easy for ‘X’ to file a complaint additionally. There is no need for them to engage a lawyer or any other pleader and the consumer can themselves or through their representative file and represent their complaint.
● The complaint can be made on plain paper, stamp paper is not required for declaration, and can be filed in person or through an authorised agent, after it has been notarised, through registered post or regular post. It should contain the details of the complainant and the opposite party.
● It is important that a personal or legal notice has been served to the opposite party before filing the complaint.
● Four copies will have to be filed, plus additional copies for each opposite party.
What should the complaint state:
● The complaint should contain the following particulars:
● Name and complete address of the complainant.
● Name and complete address of the opposite party/parties.
● Date of purchase of goods or services availed.
● Amount paid for the above purpose.
● Particulars of goods purchased with numbers or details of services availed.
● Details of complaint, whether it is against Unfair Trade Practice/supply of defective goods/deficiency in service provided / collection of excess price, should explicitly be mentioned in the complaint petition.
● Bills/receipts and copies of connected correspondence, if any.
● The relief sought for under this Act.
● Complaints should be signed by the complainant or his authorised agent.
Every complaint shall clearly contain particulars of dispute and the relief claimed and shall also be accompanied by copies of such documents as are necessary to prove the claim made in the complaint.
Duration of filing a complaint:-
The complaint must be filed within two years from the date of the cause of action has arisen. However, a complaint may also be filed after two years, if the complainant satisfies the District Forum that he/she has sufficient reasons for not filing the complaint within such period.
Fees payable for filing of a complaint in a District Forum:-
(1) Up to one lakh rupees – For complainants who are under the Below Poverty Line holding Antyodaya Anna Yojana Cards - Nil
(2) Up to one lakh rupees – For complainants other than Antyodaya Anna Yojana cardholders - Rs.100
(3) Above one lakh and up to five lakh rupees - Rs.200
(4) Above five lakh and up to ten lakh rupees - Rs.400
(5) Above ten lakh and up to twenty lakh rupees - Rs.500