New rules called the Consumer Protection (Jurisdiction of the District Commission, the State Commission and the National Commission) Rules, 2021 were issued to protect consumers. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution confirmed the same via a statement.
What does this have to do with me?
India has established several consumer courts as dispute resolution mechanisms intended to deal with consumer disputes, complaints, conflicts and grievances. These are important forums where a consumer can file a case against a seller if one feels he/she has been exploited or cheated in a particular transaction. One of the chief objectives of these courts is to ensure that consumer complaints are addressed speedily and that a resolution is found in a timely manner.
Under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, these courts function in a three-tier quasi-judicial structure to address consumer disputes. The three tiers include district commissions, state commissions and the national commission. The legislation also assigns the pecuniary jurisdiction of each tier. This is what has been changed.
How has it been changed?
As per the latest notification, district commissions will now be allowed to entertain consumer complaints where the total value of the goods and services involved does not exceed Rs 50 lakh. The jurisdiction of state commissions has also been changed, enabling them to entertain complaints where the value of goods and services stands between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 2 crore. Any consumer complaints where the value of goods and services exceeds Rs 2 crore will be addressed by the national commission.
Why the change?
Under the current provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, district commissions were allowed to entertain complaints relating to transactions where the value of goods and services could be as high as one crore. State commissions had jurisdiction to entertain consumer complaints where the value of goods and services lay between one crore and Rs 10 crore. The national commission dealt with consumer complaint cases where the value of goods and services exceeded Rs 10 crore.
However, the government found that, given the number of consumer complaints where the value of goods and services was less than a crore, there was a large pile-up of cases at the district commission level. This caused a rise in pendency and delays in addressing cases, thereby defeating the primary reason that such courts were established in the first place. With the new rules being notified, consumers are likely to experience speedier resolutions in their complaint cases.
Is there anything else I should know?
As a matter of fact, there is. In keeping with the objective of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 to dispose of cases as speedily as possible, the central government has also set up the E-Daakhil Portal which allows consumers to conveniently file their complaints to the relevant forum. This is, particularly, pertinent given the rising Omicron-related threat since it means consumers won’t have to physically travel to a specific forum…Read more>>