Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the term “complaint” has been defined under Sec. 2(1) (c) as:
“An allegation made in writing by a complainant that-
- an unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice has been adopted by 6 [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 a deficiency in any respect
- a trader or the service provider, as the case may be, has charged for the goods or for the services mentioned in the complaint, a price in excess of the price
- fixed by or under any law for the time being in force
- displayed on the goods or any package containing such goods
- displayed on the price list exhibited by him by or under any law for the time being in force
- agreed between the parties
- goods which will be hazardous to life and safety when used are being offered for sale to the public”.
In a layman language, in case a consumer buys certain goods and is not satisfied by the quality of the goods, or has enough reason to believe that there has been adulteration in the product, or he has been given deficient goods, he can file a complaint against such seller, manufacturer or trader in an appropriate redressal forum as per the value of the goods. Similarly, in the case of services, if a consumer feels that he has been rendered deficient services, which has breached his trust, he can file a complaint against the service provider.
To file a complaint a person must qualify and fit in the definition of “consumer” under Sec. 2 of the COPRA, 1986. Further, it must be shown that the goods were brought or the services were availed for a consideration. For instance, in the matter of Smt. Laxmiben Laxmichand Shah vs. Smt. Sakerben Kanji Chandan, the complainant approached the National Commission with a complaint against the landlord because he refused to provide agreed amenities to the tenant. The National Commission rejected and dismissed the complaint on the grounds that it was a case of lease of immovable property and not of hiring services of landlord.
The Act of 1986, vide Sec. 2(b) and Sec. 12, allows the following persons or class of persons to file a complaint before the appropriate redressal forum:
- a consumer
- any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or under any other law for the time being in force
- the Central Government or any State Government
- one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest.
Apart from the above listed category of persons, the beneficiary of goods and services are also included in the definition of consumers and thus have a right to file a complaint. In a case where a young child was taken to hospital by his parents and the doctor treats the child, the parents of such a minor child can file a complaint under the Act. Further, regarding the scope of who can file a complaint under the Act, in the matter of Cosmopolitan Hospital vs. Smt. Vasantha P. Nair, it was held that;
“The Act does not expressly include the legal representative of a deceased consumer in its scope. But, by the operation of law, the legal representatives get clothed with the rights, status and personality of the deceased. Thus the expression consumer would include legal representative of the deceased consumer and he can exercise his right for the purpose of enforcing the cause of action which has devolved on him”.
When a consumer signs the original complaint, it can be initiated by his/her relative. “In the Indian conditions, women may be illiterate, educated women may be unaware of their legal rights, thus a husband can file and prosecute complaint under the Consumer Protection Act on behalf of his spouse”.
Whereas, the Act makes it clear that the legal heirs of a deceased consumer are included within its ambit and can also file a complaint. An essential element that completes the transaction between a consumer and a seller is the the aspect of consideration. Consideration can be understood as the monetary value which a consumer pays to the seller or manufacturer or trader in exchange of his goods, or a consumer pays to the service provider in case he avails his services. To demand a remedy under the Consumer Protection Act, the consideration in a transaction must have been paid or should be payable. It can be in instalments or in a lump sum.
In the matter of Byford v. S.S. Srivastava, following set of facts occurred:
B (Bryford) issued an advertisement inviting people to enter into the contest by booking a Premier Padmini car. S (Srivastava) purchased the car as per the advertisement, thus, entering into the contest. He won the contest and thus was entitled to get two tickets from New Delhi to New York and back. S, after sometime filed a complaint against B alleging that no ticket was delivered to him.
Deciding upon the above facts, the National Commission rejected the contention of S, ruled that he was not a consumer in this context. He paid for the car and got it. B was not liable so far as the contract of winning a lottery was concerned.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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