The Indian economy has been growing since independence and reaching new standards year by year. A rapid growth in the economy has always resulted in surprising the existing market players with new refined and polished players, increasing the gravity of the competition among the vendors and urge of strengthening the position of the business either by profit or broad customer base. In such an area, where there is a cut-throat competition, it became essential to maintain the consumer’s safety. Sellers, in order to make more money, may use unethical practices that may put consumers at risk. In order to avoid the situation and promote consumer’s safety, the government of India came up with a law known as the Consumer Protection Act,1986. The Consumer Protection law came with the provisions conditioning sellers to sell goods and provide services in compliance with the law made on this behalf. Consumer Protection Act, 1986 established three different authorities at three different levels to regulate and resolve matters related to consumers, such authorities have received their powers from the Act, following are the three authorities:
- National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission.
- State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission.
- District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019 has repealed the Consumer Act, 1986.
Jurisdiction of National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission
National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission is at the top of the hierarchy, and it works as a Redressal Forum as well as an appellate authority. It also plays a vital role in monitoring the activities of the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission and the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission.
Jurisdiction of National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission is categorized under the following heads:
- Pecuniary: - The National Commission deals with matters that exceed the monetary limit of Rs. Ten crores and above.
- Territorial Jurisdiction: The territorial jurisdiction expands to all states except the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but the person filing any complaint from outside the territory of India will not be entertained by the National Commission under this Act.
- Appellate Jurisdiction: - National Commission has an appellate authority that means it can entertain appeals against the orders issued by State and District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. Any person intending to file an appeal before the National Commission can file it within the period of 30 days, condonation of delay will be allowed only if a proper justification is provided.
- Revisional Jurisdiction: - A revisional jurisdiction states that the National Commission can ask for the records of the State Commission in the situation of any decision provided by the State Commission is incorrect in the opinion of the National Authority. Following are the instances on which the National Commission can demand the records from State Commission:
- Whether the commission has exercised its jurisdiction beyond their authority
- Whether the commission has failed to exercise their jurisdiction entitled to them
- Whether the commission has exercised their jurisdiction illegally
- Review Jurisdiction: - National Commission can review its judgements if they are of the opinion that such judgement/ decision requires a revision.
Section 67 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, states that if any person who is not satisfied with the decision of National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission may appeal against such authority to the Supreme Court within the period of 30 days from the order. Any person wanting to file an appeal against the National Commission will only be entertained by
Jurisdiction of State Consumers Dispute Redressal Commission
State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission is established to resolve the matter related to consumers at the state level under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. Currently, there are 35 State Commissions in India.
Jurisdiction of State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission:
- Pecuniary Jurisdiction: - State Commission will entertain the matters where the cost of goods and services exceeds One CroreRs, but it won’t entertain or deal in any matters that exceed the cap limit of ten crores.
- Territorial Jurisdiction: - As far as the State Commission is concerned, it can deal in all the matters related to its geographical limits of the state.
- Appellate Jurisdiction: State Commission has been authorized by the Consumer Protection Act to deal and accept all the appeals against the order of the District Commission. Hence, any person who is aggrieved by the decision of the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission can file an appeal in the State Commission within a period of 45 days. Delays can be condoned if any valid justification provided by the concerned person only at the discretion of the court. Any person wanting to file an appeal against the District Commission will only be entertained by the State Commission if such person deposits a minimum of 50% of the amount involved.
- Revisional Jurisdiction: The State commission can act as the revisional board for the records of the District Consumer Redressal Commission if the States Commission is of the opinion that District Commission has laid down a judgement that is not complying with the provisions of the law. Following are the following reason on the basis, State Commission can ask for the record:
- Whether the commission has exercised its jurisdiction beyond their authority.
- Whether the commission has failed to exercise its jurisdiction.
- Whether the commission has exercised its jurisdiction illegally.
Jurisdiction of District Consumer Redressal Commission
District Consumer Redressal Commission is the district level commission established under the Consumer Protection Act to resolve and regulate the matters dealing with district-level problems of the consumer.
Jurisdiction of the District Consumer Redressal Commission.
- Pecuniary Jurisdiction: District forum can entertain all the matters relating to the district level where the cost of transaction or goods and service is below One CroreRs. If the monetary amount exceeds Rs one crore, the matter will be filed in the State forum.
- Territorial Jurisdiction: As far as the territorial jurisdiction is concerned, the district forum can entertain all the matters related to or to the extent of its geographical limits.
- Appellate Jurisdiction: Being the lowest court in the hierarchy of the authorities according to the Consumer Protection Act, it does not have any appellate jurisdiction.
- Review Jurisdiction: - The District Commission has the power to review its own order if it is of the opinion that there is an apparent error in its order or in any application made by any parties, within a period of 30 days.
Statute of Limitation
Any person willing to file a suit under the Consumer Protection, 2019 will only be allowed or permitted if such person files the suit within the period of two years. The National Commission, State Commission and District Commission will provide condonation of delay at the discretion of the mentioned authority only under exceptional circumstances.
Rajeev Hitendra Pathak Vs Achyut Kashinath Karekar, (2011) 9 SCC 541
In this case, the main question which arose was ‘whether the District Commission and State Commission have the power to set aside their own ex-parte orders?’ It was held that the Statute does not provide any provision for exercising such powers. Hence the District and the State Commission cannot exercise power to set-aside their own ex-parte orders.
In the year 2007 Hanfi, bought the bottle of Coco-Cola and was admitted to the hospital for food poisoning. The bottle that he bought was found contaminated by fungus and insects, later to this act, MosoofHanfi moved the District Court, which gave its decision in his favour and the company was liable for a compensation of Rs. 50,000.
As the amount claimed by him was Rs.4 Lacs, he moved the State Commission of MP which also gave a decision in his favour. Appealing against the decision of State Commission, Coco-Cola filed a suit in the National Commission. NCDRC dismissed the appeal of Coco-Cola giant filed against the order of Madhya Pradesh dispute redressal commission by awarding compensation to Masoof Ahmed Hanfi of Rs. 50,540 payable by the Company.
Manjeet v/s National Insurance Company (2017)
‘A’ a person hired a truck from ‘B’ on hire purchase agreement which was insured for a year. One day as he was transporting the goods from one place to another in the truck, he saw few men asking for a lift, as the road had no other way for commutation he decided to help these people by giving them lift in his truck, after a while of a drive these men asked to halt the truck to sideways for a nature’s call, as everyone alighted from truck these men assaulted the driver and tied his hand with a rope and stole the truck after the owner made claims to insurance company for payment of insurance amount, insurance company disagreed with the claim stating that giving lift to stranger was beyond the provision of policy and performing of such act does not hold insurance company liable to pay the amount. Repealing the arguments of the insurance company, Supreme Court decided that giving lift is a humanitarian gesture and such act does fundamentally nothing contrary to anything that states contrary to the provision of insurance. Justifying, the Supreme Court awarded monetary compensation in a way that insurance company would be liable to pay 75% of the total amount with interest of 9% P.A. to the appellant.
Ms. Rajni Devi Vs Astha Hospital and Maternity (2019)
Rajni Devi was suffering from the medical problem (stones) in both her kidneys. She approached Astha Hospital for her medical treatment. The doctors of Astha hospital advised her to undergo surgery for removal of stones from the kidneys. The surgery was performed and Rs.60,000/- was charged. After discharge, she was suffering from the same pain which she had earlier before the surgery. She obtained ultrasound report and in that it was clearly seen that the stones were not removed properly. There was a deficiency in service. District Commission ordered to refund the sum of Rs. 60,000 with interest at the rate of 9% P.A from the date of complaint till the date of payment, Rs. 10,000 as an expenditure incurred for re-conducting operation, Rs. 3000 for litigation cost and Rs. 10,000 for mental agony. An Appeal was filed before State Commission by Rajni Devi for more compensation. The State Commission held that the District Commission had granted reasonable compensation for mental agony and harassment.