The place where the cause of action arises as per the facts of the case determines the jurisdiction of the complaint. If, for instance, you want to file a complaint against a service provider who is based or functions or has a branch office in central Mumbai for a sum below Rs 20 lakh, you will need to approach the Central Mumbai District Forum.
Many consumers find it difficult to decide on the matter to be included in the complaint. Primarily, your complaint should be clear, definite and precise. All facts and documents must be in order. Here is a list of details that are necessary for lodging a complaint at the district, state and national level.
(a) A cause title, that is, the complaint should have a heading;
(b) Your name, description and address;
(c) The name, description and address of the opposite party or parties;
(d) Facts about the complaint and when and where it arose;
(e) How the parties are liable to be proceeded against and why they are answerable or accountable to this petition;
(f) Copies of documents in support of the allegations contained in the petition. Complainants are advised to keep copies of the complaint / petition and all furnished documents for records;
(g) You would also need to state how the case falls within the jurisdiction of the forum / commission — whether the opposite party resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain within the jurisdiction of the forum or whether the cause of action arose within the forum’s jurisdiction;
(h) You are entitled to claim the cost of your complaint from the opposite party. Hence, include that amount in your complaint.
According to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, you don’t need a lawyer to file your case or argue your petition. You can do it yourself. Consumers having the same problem can join together and file a single complaint by enclosing a petition with the complaint. This petition should just state that since the facts and circumstances relating to the complaint are the same and since the same relief is to be claimed by all the petitioners, they may be allowed to file a single complaint.
Filing your complaint
The district forum: The complaint can be made on plain paper and you can file it in person or through an authorised agent, after it has been notarised, through registered post or regular post. It is important that you serve a personal or legal notice to the opposite party before filing the complaint.
You will need to file four copies, plus additional copies for each opposite party. And the complaint must be filed within two years from the date of the cause of action having arisen. The court fee for cases involving up to Rs 1 lakh is nil for those holding Antyodaya Anna Yojana cards and Rs 100 for the rest. For cases involving up to Rs 5 lakh the case fee is Rs 200, for case up to Rs 10 lakh the court fee is Rs 400 and for those up to Rs 20 lakh the case fee is Rs 500. The demand draft should be made out to the President, Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, (name of) district.
The state commission: Cases where the value of goods or services exceeds Rs 20 lakh can be filed and orders of the district forum challenged here within 30 days of the order being passed.
The court fee for cases above Rs 20 lakh and up to Rs 50 lakh is Rs 2,000 while the court fee for cases up to Rs 1 crore is Rs 4,000. The demand draft should be made in favour of the registrar, (name of) state commission and be payable in that state only. To file an appeal you need the following:
(a) Documents of record with correct name of all parties and their addresses;
(b) Certified copy of the district forum order;
(c) More than four additional copies for each respondent for filing an appeal;
(d) Any conditional delay, interim orders and other petitions to be submitted along with an affidavit; and
(e) A statutory deposit of Rs 25,000 or 50 per cent of the award / compensation amount, whichever is less, is to be made by the appellant / opposite parties.
The national commission: A dissatisfied consumer can file a complaint directly with the national commission or appeal against decisions of the state commission within a month from the date of the order. The court fee is Rs 5,000 and the demand draft should be in the name of The Registrar, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. There is no fee for filing an appeal before the state or national commission. You can appeal against the orders of the national commission in the Supreme Court within a period of 30 days.