Source Courtesy: An Indian Bureaucrat’s Dairy (Binoy Gupta)
How to prepare and submit a Complaint to a Consumer Forum
Of late, I have appeared before the Consumer Forums in Mumbai on behalf of several consumers.
The procedure is simple, and the decision quite fast.
I have received a few requests to detail the procedure for filing a Complaint.
I am summarizing the procedure: But you can file a complaint before a Consumer Forum, only if you are a consumer.
You cannot not file a Complaint, if the transaction is business related.
First, you must be a consumer.
If you have purchased goods or services for your business, for example for re-selling them, you are not a consumer.
But if you have purchased goods or services, like medicines, computers, mobiles, etc. for your own use, or mediclaim insurance policies, you are certainly a consumer.
Secondly, you must give a notice in writing to the supplier or service provider asking him to rectify the faults, defects, etc.
The notice should be simple, clearly pointing out your grievances, and requesting the supplier or service provider to rectify the faults, defects, etc. or replace the goods.
Normally, you should give a clear one month’s notice.
You should address the notice to the nearest address available, so that if you have to file a Complaint, it will be in the nearest consumer forum.
Thirdly, the Complaint must be filed within 2 years of the cause of action.
If there are reasonable causes for delay in filing the Complaint, you can always request the Consumer Forum to condone the delay.
The Complaint: The following is the procedure for filing a Complaint before the District Forums.
(State Forums and National Forums have their own rules, but they are essentially the same)
Although it is not essential that the Complaint should be typed, it is always better to get it typed, double spaced, with at least 1½ inches of margin space on the left, top and bottom.
The Complaint has to be arranged in the following Order and you have to page number all documents.
1. Index giving the page number(s) of each document.
2. Application for condonation of delay (if there is delay), giving the reasons for the delay, duly affirmed before a notary public.
3. Complaint – containing details of the grievance, preferably arranged in chronological order; briefly giving the ground on which relief is claimed, and the relief (including legal costs, damages and interest) claimed.
The Complaint has to be signed by the Complainant.
4. You can appear before the Consumer Forums in person, or allow a close relative to appear for you.
But if you are engaging an advocate to appear on your behalf, you have to enclose a Vakalatnama, But then, your advocate will be doing all the paper work and attending the hearings.
If you are authorizing, your close relative to appear for you, you have to enclose a letter of authority.
5. Affidavit that the contents of the Complaint are true.
6. Copies of all documents on which you rely upon in support of your Complaint.
No of copies of the Complaint to be filed
You have to submit:
1 Original and 2 xerox copies.
In addition, if the Complaint is admitted, you will have to submit as many more copies as there are parties.
Where to file your Complaint:
The jurisdiction, that is the Consumer Forum, where you should file your Complaint depends on the amount involved.
I am summarizing the provisions below:
Amount Involved Jurisdiction
upto Rs. 20 lakhs District Consumer Forum
Rs. 20 lakhs to Rs. 1 crore State Consumer Forum
More than Rs. 1 crore National Consumer Forum
The fee, which is nominal, depends upon the amount involved. It is as follows:
Before District Forum:
For claims up to Rs. 1 lakh = Rs. 100
For claims from Rs.1 lakh to Rs. 5 lakhs = Rs. 200
For claims from Rs.5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakhs = Rs. 400
For claims from Rs.10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakhs = Rs. 500
Before State Commission: For claims from Rs.20 lakh to Rs. 50 lakhs = Rs. 2000
For claims from Rs.50 lakh to Rs. 1Crore = Rs. 4000
Before National Commission
For claims exceeding Rs. 1crore = Rs. 5000
The fee has to be paid in the form of a demand draft on a nationalized bank in favour of the President of the concerned District Consumer Forum (Registrar of the State or National Commission if the Complaint is filed in these places).
There is no prescribed format for the affidavit. I am giving a simple format which you can modify and use.
Format of Affidavit
Specimen Draft Affidavit to be filed with the Complaint
I,………….. The, COMPLAINANT ABOVE NAMED DO HEREBY SOLEMNLY AFFIRM AND STATE THAT I HAVE FILED THE COMPLAINT HEREIN AND REPEAT, REITERATE, REAFFIRM AND CONFIRM EACH AND EVERY STATEMENT MADE THEREIN AS TRUE TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF.
In practice, you can get the affirmation done (or affidavit affirmed) before any notary public, but he will usually charge anything between Rs. 100 to Rs. 200; or you can affirm before the Registrar of the concerned Forum.
Actual Filing of the Complaint
You, or your advocate, will have to personally file the Complaint in the office of the concerned Consumer Forum.
The Consumer Forum’s office will go through the Complaint and point out any deficiencies.
You have to correct them and submit the Complaint again.
The Consumer Forum’s office will give you a short date for admission.
On this date, you or your representative has to appear and explain the Complaint to show that there is a genuine consumer Complaint.
This is a simple process and usually the Forum members are very helpful.
Once the Complaint is admitted, The Consumer Forum will direct you to submit more copies of the complaint (as many as there are respondents). These will be sent to the Respondents along with notice prepared by the Commission’s office.
If you have problems, you can write to: