Department of Consumer Affairs has been receiving a very
large number of complaints from the consumers regarding shortfall in the
supplies/expectations of the consumers. The complaints cover a wide range
of subjects like supply of defective refrigerators, T.V. Sets, use of
poor material by the builders in the construction of flats, non-refund
of fixed deposit amounts by companies on maturity and complaint against
unfair trade practice against service providers, etc.
Consumer Grievance Redressal Cell (CGRC) and Consumer Coordination
The department had set up a Consumer Grievance Redressal
Cell (CGRC) in February 2002, for providing services for redressal of
complaints of the consumers belonging to the following categories:
- Sale of defective goods or deficient services and charging
of higher prices, etc.
- General grievances including those received from the
Cabinet Secretary and the PMO related to consumer matters.
- Attending to the consumer complaints appearing in the
columns of the newspapers to the extent possible.
Also, complaints regarding delay in disposal of pending
cases with the various districts/States/National Commission were received
and processed and necessary follow up action were taken up as pro-active
measures in order to redress their grievances to their satisfaction. The
Redressal Cell had received 2272 complaints upto 31st March 2007. These
complaints were forwarded to the Consumer Coordination Council (CCC) for
redressal regarding replacement of goods, re-installation of telephone/electricity,
rectification of wrong bills, possession of allotted flats, payment of
amounts due to the investors on maturity, etc.
The Consumer Grievance Redressal Cell and Consumer Coordination
Council do not have any statutory powers to take action on the complaints
of consumers. Hence, they forward the complaints to the concerned authorities
to get the redressal.
Redressal Mechanism As per the Consumer Protection Act
- Who Can File A Complaint
A complainant in relation to any goods or services may
be filled by-
A power of attorney holder cannot file a complaint under
- A consumer or
- Any voluntary consumer association registered
under the Companies Act, 1956 (1of 1956)or under any other law for
the time being in force or
- The Central Government or any State Government;
- One or more consumers, where there are numerous
consumers having the same interest or
- In case of death of a consumer, his legal heir
- What Constitutes a Complaint
A complaint means any allegation in writing made by a
- An unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade
practice has been adopted by any trader or service provider
- The goods bought by him or agreed to be bought
by him; suffer from one or more defects
- The services hired or availed of or agreed to
be hired or availed of by him suffer from deficiency in any respect
- 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 price fixed by or under any
law for the time being in force or displayed on the goods or any package
containing such goods or displayed on the price list exhibited by
him by or under any law for the time being in force or agreed between
- Goods which will be hazardous to life and safety
when used or being offered for sale to the public
- Services which are hazardous or likely to be
hazardous to life and safety of the public when used, are being offered
by the service provider which such person could have known with due
diligence to be injurious to life and safety.
- How to File a Complaint
- A complaint can be filed on a plain
paper. It should contain-
- The name description and address of the complaints
and the opposite party
- The Facts relating to complaint and when and where
- Documents in support of allegations in the complaint
- The relief which the complainants is seeking
- The complaint should be signed by the complainants
or his authorized agent.
- No lawyer required for filing the complaint
- Nominal court fee
- Where to File a Complaint (depends upon the cost of the goods or services or the compensation asked)
- District Forum: if it is less than Rs. 20 lakhs
- State Commission: if more than Rs. 20 lakhs but
less then Rs. 1 crore
- National Commission: if more than Rs. 1 crore
- Integrated Three Stage Consumer Complaint Redressal Mechanism
includes Consumer Online Research and Empowerment (CORE) Centre, National
Consumer Helpline (NCH) and Consumer Voice at Level 1 and FICCI Alliance
For Consumer Care at Level 2. While, at Level 3 is the Non Litigation
Mechanism or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Online Research and Empowerment (CORE) Centre
Centre has been set up in collaboration with Consumer Coordination
Council (CCC) through signing of an MoU. It is intended to provide
the most scientific and effective system of collection and dissemination
of consumer related information to generate consumer awareness and
empowerment of all sections of the society. It is the only authorized
agency of the Department of Consumer Affairs to handle 'Online Consumer
Complaints' for redressal through mediation. By accessing the online
Redressal System in the CORE, the consumers can register themselves
and lodge their grievance online.
If the grievance/complaint is still not redressed,
complainant is advised that it is up to him to decide, whether he/she
would like to take the matter to the Consumer Court. For this, necessary
support by way of indication of the procedure and the contact address
of the nearest member organisation of CCC, who can provide assistance
in this regard, is also provided to the complainant.
- National Consumer Helpline (NCH)
A National Consumer Helpline project was launched
by the Department of Consumer Affairs in coordination with Delhi University,
Department of Commerce , at an approved cost of Rs. 3.12 crores. Under
the helpline, consumers from all over the country can dial toll-free
number 1800-11-4000 and seek telephonic for problems that
they face as consumers. The helpline intends to deal with problems
related to telecom, courier, banking, insurance, financial services,
Organization in Interest of Consumer Education
It is a voluntary action group, consisting of academicians,
professionals and volunteers, channelising their energies towards
creating informed consumers. It raises awareness in consumers not
only about malpractices perpetuated in the marketplace, but also about
her/his rights. Mission of Voice is to promote right choices in a
volatile and dynamic market place by providing consumer education
for all through integrating experiential good practices and scientific
knowledge for the safety and health of consumers and the environment.
It provides legal to its subscribers for seeking grievance
redressal under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Alliance For Consumer Care (FACC)
FICCI, with the support of the Department of Consumer
Affairs has taken the initiative of setting up a dedicated Centre
called "FICCI Alliance for Consumer Care". FACC provides an interface
between business and the consumer and facilitates prompt redressal
of consumer grievances. It also facilitates a dialogue between the
business and consumers for promotion of responsible business practices
and consumer satisfaction. It has been set up with a goal of devicing
a mechanism and providing a platform that facilitates prompt redressal
of consumer complaints through voluntary self-regulation and consumer
A neutral body, which will have panel of professionally
trained mediators, will be responsible for dealing with complaint
redressal. The Centre will only facilitate communication between the
company and the complainant to help both sides resolve the complaint.
In many cases, mediation and conciliation may be available to help
resolve the dispute.
FACC's value to the business community is based on
its neutrality. The system is not to act as an advocate for business
or consumers, but to act as a mutually trusted intermediary, to resolve
disputes, to facilitate communication and to provide information on
ethical business practices.
When FACC Board receives a complaint, it refers it
to the business concerned for dealing with it and most companies would
be happy at the opportunity given to resolve the problem, since their
patronage by the customer is preserved. At the same time FACC has
no legal powers and it cannot force a company to respond, nor can
they enforce any sanctions.
Litigation Mechanism or Alternative
Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) consists of a
variety of approaches to dispute resolution, many of which include
the use of a neutral individual such as a mediator who can assist
disputing parties in resolving their disagreements. ADR increases
the parties' opportunities to resolve disputes prior to or during
the use of formal administrative procedures and litigation (which
can be very costly and time-consuming).
ADR is generally classified into at least three subtypes:
negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. The salient features of each
type are as follows:
- In negotiation, participation is voluntary and there
is no third party who facilitates the resolution process or imposes
- In mediation, there is a third party, a mediator,
who facilitates the resolution process (and may even suggest a resolution,
typically known as a "mediator's proposal"), but does not impose
a resolution on the parties.
- In arbitration, participation is typically voluntary,
and there is a third party who, as a private judge, imposes a resolution.
Arbitrations often occur because parties to contracts agree that
any future dispute concerning the agreement will be resolved by
arbitration. In recent years, the enforceability of arbitration
clauses, particularly in the context of consumer agreements (e.g.,
credit card agreements), has drawn scrutiny from courts. Although
parties may appeal arbitration outcomes to courts, such appeals
face an exacting standard of review.
- Computerization and Computer Networking of Consumer Forums in the Country (Confonet)
has been launched through National Informatics Centre (NIC) as a turnkey
project to be implemented from 2004-05. The objective of the scheme is
to provide I.T solutions in order to achieve e-governance, transparency,
efficiency of consumer fora and facilitate disposal of cases in a time
bound manner. It will help in systematizing processing of various types
of cases, data and generation of reports and also facilitate better administrative
control for subsequent maintenance. It will enable consumers to file their
complaints online and to see the status of their cases on the website.
Under it, all consumer related websites (those of National Commission,
State Commissions, District Fora, Department of Consumer Affairs, CORE
Centre, National Consumer Helpline, etc) will be linked so that consumers
can access any consumer related information from any of these websites.