The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 establishes a three-tier quasi-judicial system for resolving consumer complaints, which includes:-
- District Commissions: The District Commission can entertain cases where consideration of the goods purchased is only up to one crore rupees and does not exceed that limit
- State Commissions: The State Commission can entertain cases that have the consideration for the services acquired exceeding one crore rupees.
- The National Commission: The National Commission has the jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the consideration exceeds 10 crore rupees.
Following the Act’s enactment, it was discovered that existing provisions relating to consumer commissions’ monetary jurisdiction were causing cases that could previously have been filed in the National Commission to be filed in State Commissions, and cases that could previously have been filed in State Commissions to be filed in District Commissions. This resulted in a huge increase in the workload of District Commissions, resulting in an increase in a case pending and delays in case disposition, contradicting the whole purpose of the Act, which was to provide consumers with prompt remedy.
After deliberate consultation of the Central Government with the States and the Union Territories of India with regards to the revision of pecuniary jurisdiction, it was reformed that the:-
- Where the value of the products or services paid as consideration does not exceed 50 lakh rupees, District Commissions have the authority to hear complaints.
- Where the amount of the products or services paid as consideration exceeds 50 lakh rupees but does not exceed 2 crore rupees, State Commissions have authority to hear complaints.
- Where the value of the products or services paid as consideration exceeds 2 crore rupees, the National Commission will have the authority to hear complaints.
Limitation Period to file Complaints:-
Section 24A of the Act provides the limitation period to file grievances, which are stated below:-
- A complaint will not be accepted by the District Forum, the State Commission, or the National Commission unless it is filed within two years of the date on which the cause of action arose.
- Notwithstanding anything in sub-section (1), a complaint may be heard after the time limit specified in sub-section (1) if the complainant convinces the District Forum, the State Commission, or the National Commission, as the case may be, that he had sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within that time limit.
Unless the National Commission, the State Commission, or the District Forum, as the case may be, notes its reasons for tolerating the delay, no such complaint will be heard.
It is worth noting that the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 states that every complaint must be resolved as quickly as possible and that every effort must be made to resolve the complaint within 3 months of the date of receipt of notice by the opposite party if the complaint does not require commodity analysis or testing, and within 5 months if it does. The Act also contains a referral of consumer issues to Mediation, with the cooperation of both parties, to provide a speedier and more friendly means of resolving consumer disputes. This would not only save the parties engaged in the disagreement time and money, but it will also help to reduce the overall number of cases pending.
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