Redressal Machinery Under the Act
To provide simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal of consumer grievances, the Act envisages three tier quasijudicial machinery at the National, State and District levels.
1. District Forum
It consists of a president and two members. The president has to be qualified to be a district judge, while the others are eminent persons from various fields. Under Consumer Protection Act, the State Government has to set up a District forum in each district of the state. The district forum has the power to take up cases where the value of the goods and services and the compensation demanded are upto Rs. 20 Lakh.
The complaint shall be instituted in the District Forum within the local limits of :
i. The opposite party or the defendant actually and voluntarily resides or carries on the business or has a branch office or personally works for gain at the time of institution of the complaint; or
ii. Any one of the opposite parties (where there are more than one )actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain at the time of institution of the complaint provided that the other opposite party/parties acquiescence in such institution or the permission of the Forum is obtained in respect of such opposite parties; or
iii. The cause of action arises wholly or in part.
2. State Commission
The state commission, like the district forum has a qualified legal person as the president and two eminent members one of whom shall be a women. Judge of the high court shall be appointed as its president. A person can go to the state level body in appeal from the district forum. Also, if the value of the goods, services and damages is between Rs 20 lakh and Rs. 1 crore, the consumer can go directly to the forum. Any aggrieved party who is dissatisfied with the decision of the state commission may appeal against such order to the national commission within a period of 30 days from the date of the order.
3. National Commission
Supreme Court judge can be appointed by the Central Government as its president. At least 4 members shall be appointed, and one of whom shall be a women. Every member of the National Commission shall hold office for a term of five years upto 70 years of age whichever is earlier and shall not be eligible for reappointment. A consumer can go to the national forum in appeal from the state commission, or if the value of the goods, services and damages is more than Rs. One crore.
Powers of the Dispute Redressal Agencies
The District Forum, the State Commission and the National Commission are vested with the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure while trying a suit in respect of the following matters :
1. The summoning and enforcing attendance of any defendant or witness, examining the witness on oath.
2. The discovery and production of any document or other material producible as evidence.
3. The reception of evidence on affidavits.
4. The requisitioning of the report of the concerned analysis or test from the appropriate laboratory or from any other relevant source.
5. Issuing of any commission for the examination of any witness.
6. Any other matter which may be prescribed.
7. To issue remedial orders against the opposite party.
8. To dismiss frivolous and vexations complaints and to order the complainant to make payment of cost, not exceeding Rs. 10,000 to the opposite party.