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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Centre notifies new rules for consumer panels

The jurisdiction of the commissions has been notified by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: December 31, 2021 6:31:13 am
The Act provides a “three-tier quasi-judicial mechanism” for redress of consumer disputes: district commissions, state commissions, and the national commission. (File)

The Centre on Thursday notified monetary jurisdiction of consumer commissions, with the district commissions having jurisdiction to entertain complaints where value of goods or services paid as consideration does not exceed Rs 50 lakh. The state commissions will have jurisdiction to similar complaints with value of goods or services between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 2 crore, and the National Commission over Rs 2 crore.

The jurisdiction of the commissions has been notified by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

The Act provides a “three-tier quasi-judicial mechanism” for redress of consumer disputes: district commissions, state commissions, and the national commission. The law also provides pecuniary jurisdiction of each tier of consumer commission.

As per existing provisions, district commissions have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where value of goods or services paid as consideration does not exceed Rs 1 crore, state commissions Rs 1 crore to Rs 10 crore, and national commission above Rs 10 crore.

Explained

Benefits of the move

Reduction of limit of pecuniary jurisdiction of district and state commissions will reduce workload at these two tiers of dispute resolution system, and thereby reduce pendency at these two levels. Besides, with E-dakhil in place, consumers can take their complaints to a state or national commission without visiting the commission physically.

Giving reasons for fixing a lower limit for district and state commissions, the ministry said in a statement, “After the Act came into force, it was observed that existing provisions relating to pecuniary jurisdiction of consumer commissions were leading to cases which could earlier be filed in National Commission to be filed in State Commissions and cases which could earlier be filed in State Commissions to be filed in District Commissions. This caused a significant increase in workload of District Commissions, leading to rise in pendency and delay in disposal of cases, defeating the very object of securing speedy redressal to consumers as envisaged under the Act.”

It stated, “With regard to revision of pecuniary jurisdiction, Central Government held consultation with States/UTs, consumer organizations, law chairs etc. and examined the issues that had created long pendency of cases in detail,” the statement said.

According to the statement, under the law, every complaint is to be disposed of “as expeditiously as possible”, and attempt is to be made to decide the complaint within a period of three months from the date of receipt of notice by the “opposite party”, where the complaint does not require analysis or testing of commodities and within 5 months if it requires analysis or testing of commodities.

“The Act also provides consumers the option of filing complaint electronically… Presently, facility of E-Daakhil is available in 544 consumer commissions, which includes the National Commission and consumer commissions in 21 states and 3 UTs. So far, more than 10,000 cases have been filed using the E-Daakhil Portal and more than 43000 users have registered on the portal,” the statement said.

“To provide a faster and amicable mode of settling consumer disputes, the Act also includes reference of consumer disputes to Mediation, with the consent of both parties. This will not only save time and money of the parties involved in litigating the dispute, but will also aid in reducing overall pendency of cases,” it said.

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