CHAPTER IV CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
Section 38 of Consumer Protection Act 2019 : Procedure on admission of complaint
38. (1) The District Commission shall, on admission of a complaint, or in respect of cases referred for mediation on failure of settlement by mediation, proceed with such complaint.
(2) Where the complaint relates to any goods, the District Commission shall,-
(a) refer a copy of the admitted complaint, within twenty-one days from the date of its admission to the opposite party mentioned in the complaint directing him to give his version of the case within a period of thirty days or such extended period not exceeding fifteen days as may be granted by it;
(b) if the opposite party on receipt of a complaint referred to him under clause (a) denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint, or omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time given by the District Commission, proceed to settle the consumer dispute in the manner specified in clauses (c) to (g);
(c) if the complaint alleges a defect in the goods which cannot be determined without proper analysis or test of the goods, obtain a sample of the goods from the complainant, seal it and authenticate it in the manner as may be prescribed and refer the sample so sealed to the appropriate laboratory along with a direction that such laboratory to make an analysis or test, whichever may be necessary, with a view to finding out whether such goods suffer from any defect alleged in the complaint or from any other defect and to report its findings thereon to the District Commission within a period of forty-five days of the receipt of the reference or within such extended period as may be granted by it;
(d) before any sample of the goods is referred to any appropriate laboratory under clause (c), require the complainant to deposit to the credit of the Commission such fees as may be specified, for payment to the appropriate laboratory for carrying out the necessary analysis or test in relation to the goods in question;
(e) remit the amount deposited to its credit under clause (d) to the appropriate laboratory to enable it to carry out the analysis or test mentioned in clause (c) and on receipt of the report from the appropriate laboratory, it shall forward a copy of the report along with such remarks as it may feel appropriate to the opposite party;
(f) if any of the parties disputes the correctness of the findings of the appropriate laboratory, or disputes the correctness of the methods of analysis or test adopted by the appropriate laboratory, require the opposite party or the complainant to submit in writing his objections with regard to the report made by the appropriate laboratory;
(g) give a reasonable opportunity to the complainant as well as the opposite party of being heard as to the correctness or otherwise of the report made by the appropriate laboratory and also as to the objection made in relation thereto under clause (f) and issue an appropriate order under section 39.
(3) The District Commission shall, if the complaint admitted by it under sub-section (2) of section 36 relates to goods in respect of which the procedure specified in sub-section (2) cannot be followed, or if the complaint relates to any services,-
(a) refer a copy of such complaint to the opposite party directing him to give his version of the case within a period of thirty days or such extended period not exceeding fifteen days as may be granted by the District Commission;
(b) if the opposite party, on receipt of a copy of the complaint, referred to him under clause (a) denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint, or omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time given by the District Commission, it shall proceed to settle the consumer dispute-
(i) on the basis of evidence brought to its notice by the complainant and the opposite party, if the opposite party denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint, or
(ii) ex parte on the basis of evidence brought to its notice by the complainant, where the opposite party omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time given by the Commission;
(c) decide the complaint on merits if the complainant fails to appear on the date of hearing.
(4) For the purposes of sub-sections (2) and (3), the District Commission may, by order, require an electronic service provider to provide such information, documents or records, as may be specified in that order.
(5) No proceedings complying with the procedure laid down in sub-sections (1) and
(2) shall be called in question in any court on the ground that the principles of natural justice have not been complied with.
(6) Every complaint shall be heard by the District Commission on the basis of affidavit and documentary evidence placed on record:
Provided that where an application is made for hearing or for examination of parties in person or through video conferencing, the District Commission may, on sufficient cause being shown, and after recording its reasons in writing, allow the same.
(7) Every complaint shall be disposed of as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall be made to decide the complaint within a period of three months from the date of receipt of notice by opposite party where the complaint does not require analysis or testing of commodities and within five months if it requires analysis or testing of commodities:
Provided that no adjournment shall ordinarily be granted by the District Commission unless sufficient cause is shown and the reasons for grant of adjournment have been recorded in writing by the Commission:
Provided further that the District Commission shall make such orders as to the costs occasioned by the adjournment as may be specified by regulations:
Provided also that in the event of a complaint being disposed of after the period so specified, the District Commission shall record in writing, the reasons for the same at the time of disposing of the said complaint.
(8) Where during the pendency of any proceeding before the District Commission, if it appears necessary, it may pass such interim order as is just and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case.
(9) For the purposes of this section, the District Commission shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 while trying a suit in respect of the following matters, namely:-
(a) the summoning and enforcing the attendance of any defendant or witness and examining the witness on oath;
(b) requiring the discovery and production of any document or other material object as evidence;
(c) receiving of evidence on affidavits;
(d) the requisitioning of the report of the concerned analysis or test from the appropriate laboratory or from any other relevant source;
(e) issuing of commissions for the examination of any witness, or document; and (f) any other matter which may be prescribed by the Central Government.
(10) Every proceeding before the District Commission shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code, and the District Commission shall be deemed to be a criminal court for the purposes of section 195 and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
(11) Where the complainant is a consumer referred to in sub-clause (v) of clause (5) of section 2, the provisions of Order I Rule 8 of the First Schedule to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 shall apply subject to the modification that every reference therein to a suit or decree shall be construed as a reference to a complaint or the order of the District Commission thereon.
(12) In the event of death of a complainant who is a consumer or of the
opposite party against whom the complaint has been filed, the provisions of
Order XXII of the First Schedule to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 shall
apply subject to the modification that every reference therein to the
plaintiff and the defendant shall be construed as reference to a complainant
or the opposite party, as the case may be.
Section 39 of Consumer Protection Act 2019: Findings of District Commission
39. (1) Where the District Commission is satisfied that the goods complained against suffer from any of the defects specified in the complaint or that any of the allegations contained in the complaint about the services or any unfair trade practices, or claims for compensation under product liability are proved, it shall issue an order to the opposite party directing him to do one or more of the following, namely:-
(a) to remove the defect pointed out by the appropriate laboratory from the goods in question;
(b) to replace the goods with new goods of similar description which shall be free from any defect;
(c) to return to the complainant the price, or, as the case may be, the charges paid by the complainant along with such interest on such price or charges as may be decided;
(d) to pay such amount as may be awarded by it as compensation to the consumer for any loss or injury suffered by the consumer due to the negligence of the opposite party:
Provided that the District Commission shall have the power to grant punitive damages in such circumstances as it deems fit;
(e) to pay such amount as may be awarded by it as compensation in a product liability action under Chapter VI;
(f) to remove the defects in goods or deficiencies in the services in question;
(g) to discontinue the unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practice and not to repeat them;
(h) not to offer the hazardous or unsafe goods for sale;
(i) to withdraw the hazardous goods from being offered for sale;
(j) to cease manufacture of hazardous goods and to desist from offering services which are hazardous in nature;
(k) to pay such sum as may be determined by it, if it is of the opinion that loss or injury has been suffered by a large number of consumers who are not identifiable conveniently:
Provided that the minimum amount of sum so payable shall not be less than twenty-five per cent. of the value of such defective goods sold or service provided, as the case may be, to such consumers;
(l) to issue corrective advertisement to neutralise the effect of misleading advertisement at the cost of the opposite party responsible for issuing such misleading advertisement;
(m) to provide for adequate costs to parties; and
(n) to cease and desist from issuing any misleading advertisement.
(2) Any amount obtained under sub-section (1) shall be credited to such fund and utilised in such manner as may be prescribed.
(3) In any proceeding conducted by the President and a member and if they differ on any point or points, they shall state the point or points on which they differ and refer the same to another member for hearing on such point or points and the opinion of the majority shall be the order of the District Commission:
Provided that the other member shall give his opinion on such point or points referred to him within a period of one month from the date of such reference.
(4) Every order made by the District Commission under sub-section (1) shall be signed by the President and the member who conducted the proceeding:
Provided that where the order is made as per majority opinion under sub-section (3), such order shall also be signed by the other member.
Section 40 of Consumer Protection Act 2019: Review by District Commission in certain cases
40. The District Commission shall have the power to review any of the order passed by it if there is an error apparent on the face of the record, either of its own motion or on an application made by any of the parties within thirty days of such order.
Section 41 of Consumer Protection Act 2019: Appeal against order of District Commission
41. Any person aggrieved by an order made by the District Commission may prefer an appeal against such order to the State Commission on the grounds of facts or law within a period of forty-five days from the date of the order, in such form and manner, as may be prescribed:
Provided that the State Commission may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period of forty-five days, if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing it within that period:
Provided further that no appeal by a person, who is required to pay any amount in terms of an order of the District Commission, shall be entertained by the State Commission unless the appellant has deposited fifty per cent. of that amount in the manner as may be prescribed:
Provided also that no appeal shall lie from any order passed under sub-section (1) of section 81 by the District Commission pursuant to a settlement by mediation under section 80.
Section 42 of Consumer Protection Act 2019: Establishment of State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
42. (1) The State Government shall, by notification, establish a State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, to be known as the State Commission, in the State.
(2) The State Commission shall ordinarily function at the State capital and perform its functions at such other places as the State Government may in consultation with the State Commission notify in the Official Gazette:
Provided that the State Government may, by notification, establish regional benches of the State Commission, at such places, as it deems fit.
(3) Each State Commission shall consist of-
(a) a President; and
(b) not less than four or not more than such number of members as may be prescribed in consultation with the Central Government.
Section 43 of Consumer Protection Act 2019: Qualifications, etc., of President and members of State Commission
43. The Central Government may, by notification, make rules to provide for the qualification for appointment, method of recruitment, procedure of appointment, term of office, resignation and removal of the President and members of the State Commission.
Section 44 of Consumer Protection Act 2019: Salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of service of President and members of State Commission
44. The State Government may, by notification, make rules to provide for salaries and allowances and other terms and conditions of service of the President and members of the State Commission.
Section 45 of Consumer Protection Act 2019: Transitional provision
45. Any person appointed as President or, as the case may be, a member of the State Commission immediately before the commencement of this Act shall hold office as such, as President or member, as the case may be, till the completion of his term.
Section 46 of Consumer Protection Act 2019: Officers and employees of State Commission
46. (1) The State Government shall determine the nature and categories of the officers and other employees required to assist the State Commission in the discharge of its functions and provide the Commission with such officers and other employees as it may think fit.
(2) The officers and other employees of the State Commission shall discharge their functions under the general superintendence of the President.
(3) The salaries and allowances payable to and the other terms and conditions of service of, the officers and other employees of the State Commission shall be such as may be prescribed.
Section 47 of Consumer Protection Act 2019: Jurisdiction of State Commission
47. (1) Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the State Commission shall have jurisdiction-
(a) to entertain-
(i) complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration, exceeds rupees one crore, but does not exceed rupees ten crore: Provided that where the Central Government deems it necessary so to do, it may prescribe such other value, as it deems fit;
(ii) complaints against unfair contracts, where the value of goods or services paid as consideration does not exceed ten crore rupees;
(iii) appeals against the orders of any District Commission within the State; and
(b) to call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any District Commission within the State, where it appears to the State Commission that such District Commission has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested or has acted in exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.
(2) The jurisdiction, powers and authority of the State Commission may be exercised by Benches thereof, and a Bench may be constituted by the President with one or more members as the President may deem fit:
Provided that the senior-most member shall preside over the Bench.
(3) Where the members of a Bench differ in opinion on any point, the points shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority, if there is a majority, but if the members are equally divided, they shall state the point or points on which they differ, and make a reference to the President who shall either hear the point or points himself or refer the case for hearing on such point or points by one or more of the other members and such point or points shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority of the members who have heard the case, including those who first heard it:
Provided that the President or the other members, as the case may be, shall give opinion on the point or points so referred within a period of one month from the date of such reference.
(4) A complaint shall be instituted in a State Commission within the limits of whose jurisdiction,-
(a) the opposite party or each of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, ordinarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain; or
(b) any of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides, or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, provided in such case, the permission of the State Commission is given; or
(c) the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises; or
(d) the complainant resides or personally works for gain.