Mrs.Jyothi has purchased a new washing machine. She was happy that now she need not depend on the servant to do the washing job, she can do the washing with the help of washing machine. She was glad that she will be having more time now to watch her favourite T.V. serial and spend more time with her family. The washing machine worked properly for 2 months and from the next month it had problems.  Complaint was made and the company service people came and repaired the machine, unfortunately it was only a temporary relief and the washing machine developed problems again. There was a serious manufacturing defect and Mrs. Jyothi did not want to get it repaired again, she wanted a new washing machine or refund of the price of the machine.


Mr. Sharma purchased a new Computer for his personal use. The computer was working properly for 3 months suddenly it developed problems. Complaint was lodged with the Computer Company they did not respond and Mr.Sharma was a worried man.


So what is the relief available to common people like Mrs. Jyoti and Mr. Sharma? It is here that the Consumer Redressal Forums come to the help of the Consumers. Both Mrs. Jyothi and Mr. Sharma can file a Complaint before the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum and obtain the required relief.


In India, the Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 1986 to give speedy, inexpensive and accessible redressal machinery for the benefit of the Consumers. A three tier system of Consumer Disputes Redressal machinery has been established for the purpose of this Act.

  1. District Forum in every district.
  2. State Commission in each state.
  3. National Commission at New Delhi.

District Forum has pecuniary jurisdiction upto Rs 5 lakhs. State Commission has Original jurisdiction above Rs 5 lakhs upto Rs 20 lakhs and Appellate jurisdiction. National Commission has Original jurisdiction above 20 lakhs and Appellate jurisdiction.


Place of filing the Complaint:

Complaint has to file at a place where the Opposite Party resides or carries on business or has a branch office. Complaint can also filed at the place where the cause of action wholly or in part arises.

For example if Mr. Sharma has purchased the computer from a person who carries on business at Pune, he has to file the complaint before the District Forum, Pune.


Who is a ‘Consumer’

Section 2(d) of the C.P.Act states that a Consumer is any person who,

  1. Buys any goods for consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised under any system of deferred payment.
  2. Hires or avails of any service including any beneficiary thereof for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised or under any system of deferred payment.

It may be noted that Consumer Protection Act excludes a person who buys goods for resale or any commercial purpose.


Thus every common man who has paid consideration and purchased goods or availed of services comes under the protection of C.P.Act and he can seek relief. But if a person has purchased the goods for commercial purpose or for resale he is not covered under the C.P.Act.


Contents of a Complaint:

A common man is confused when he wants to file a Complaint, he does not know what are the things that he is expected to write in his complaint. The complaint should contain the following:

a). Name, description and address of the Complainant.

b). Name, description and address of the Opposite party or parties.

c). The facts relating to the Complaint and when and where the cause of action arose.

d). Documents if any in support of the allegation contained in the complaint like receipt of payment made to opposite party, letters written to the opposite party etc.

  1. e) The relief the complainant is seeking.

Relief available to the Consumer:


  1. Removal of defect from the goods.

The Forum may order that the defect is removed. For example if your fridge is not working properly the Forum may order the Company people to repair the fridge.


  1. Replacement of goods.

The Forum may order the replacement of goods. For example if the complainant has purchased a washing machine, it is not working satisfactorily even after the repair as it has a serious manufacturing defect the Forum may order replacement of the washing machine with a new one.


  1. Refund of the price.

In certain cases the Forum may order refund of the price. For example if the complainant has purchased a T.V. It is not working properly there is no clarity of image, there is distortion of pictures etc. It has been proved that there is no improvement even after the repairs then the Forum may order refund of price.


  1. Award of compensation to Consumer for any loss or injury.

In deserving cases the Forum can award compensation to the complainant for any loss or injury. For example if a doctor has purchased a sonography machine and it is found to be defective then the Forum may award compensation to the doctor for the loss he has suffered.


  1. Removal of deficiency in service

An automobile dealer who is required to provide free services to customers fails to provide free services or failed to provide service thereafter can be directed to provide service in addition to a direction to compensate towards mental and physical strain/torture of the customer. Similarly a bank or an insurance company can be taken to task in case they fail to fulfill their obligation.


  1. To discontinue Unfair Trade Practice/Restrictive Trade Practice

A manufacturer or trader who advertises his goods (the quality, quantity, purity or standard of his product) or his services (quality, standard, manner of performance) either falsely or in exaggerated manner  may be called upon to prove the same and failing which an order may be passed stopping such publication of advertisement apart from compensation for the same. For instance ad war between Colgate and Palmolive may attract such an order.


  1. Award cost to the parties

The Forum can award cost to the parties. The complainant can claim the cost that he has incurred towards legal advice, travelling, postage etc. from the Opposite party.

It may be noted that if it is proved that the complainant has filed a frivolous or vexatious complaint the complainant may be ordered to pay upto Rs 10,000/- to the opposite party and the Forum may dismiss the complaint under section 26 of the C.P.Act. This section has been incorporated in the Act to curb frivolous and vexatious complaints. For example if the complainant files a complaint against a doctor without any reasonable grounds just to harass the doctor and extract money from him then the Forum can dismiss the complaint and order that the complainant should pay Rs 10,000/- to the doctor for filing the frivolous complaint.



Appeal against the Order the order of District Forum lies to State Commission. Appeal has to be filed within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of the Order. Similarly an appeal against the order of State Commission has to be filed before National Commission. Final Appeal against Order of National Commission lies to Supreme Court.



Limitation is an important aspect to be considered while filing a consumer complaint. Complaint has to be filed within 2 years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen. For example if a person has purchased a computer in April 1996 and if it has defect from July 1996 then the complaint should be filed before July 1998.


Penalties against  non-compliance of the Order:

When a person against whom a Order has been passed fails to comply with the Order then under section 27 of the C.P.Act,1986 the person shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may not be less then one month but which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to Rs 10,000/- or with both.

For example if a builder has not completed the construction of the flat and a complaint is filed against him and if the Forum has ordered that he has to give possession of the flat within 2 months if the builder fails to comply with the Order of the Forum then he may be imprisoned and a fine may also be imposed on him.
Section 27 of the Act is the kingpin of Consumer Jurisdiction. Without this section the Consumer jurisdiction would only be a paper tiger lacking teeth.