Headline:Railways, 2 station masters fined Rs. 10K for delay in refund to Mohali man.
Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights and to the formation of consumer organisations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and get help with consumer complaints. Consumer rights include right to choose, right to be informed, right to consumer education, right to be heard and also the right to seek redressal.
In India, consumer protection is specified in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Under this particular law, separate consumer dispute redress forums have been set up throughput India in each and every district in which a consumer can file his complaint on a simple paper with nominal court fees. Section 9 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 talks about the establishment of consumer disputes redressal agencies. As per this section, there shall be a consumer disputes redressal forum, known as ‘district forum’, established by the state government in each district of the state by notification; a consumer disputes redressal commission, known as ‘State Commission’ established by the state government in the state by notification; and a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission established by the Central Government by notification.
As far as district forum is concerned, according to Section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act, it shall have the jurisdiction to entertain only those complaints where the value of goods or services and the compensation does not exceed five lakh rupees.
Further, Section 13 of the Act states the procedure to be followed by the forum on the receipt of any complaint. If, after the proceedings conducted under Section 13, the District Forum 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 service are proved, it shall issue an order to the opposite party directing him to do one or more things, as specified in Section 14 of the Act and which the forum deems to be adequate for redressal of the grievances of the complainant. According to Section 14, the court can direct the guilty party to remove the defect pointed out, replace the goods with new goods that are free from any defect, to return the charges paid by the complainant or even to pay such an amount as compensation to the consumer for any loss or injury suffered by the consumer due to the negligence of the opposite party. Therefore, accordingly, in the case of delay in refund, the forum, taking cognisance of the delay, can direct the guilty party to compensate the other party for the agony and deficiency of service as well as the litigation costs occurred.
However, there also exist a proper appeal mechanism under this Act. According to Section 15 of the Act, any person aggrieved by an order made by the District Forum may prefer an appeal against such an order to the State Commission within a period of thirty days from the date of the order. The State Commission may entertain an appeal even after the expiry of the said period only if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing it within that period. Similarly, further appeals can be made in the National Commission and then the Supreme Court, under Section 19 and 23 of the Act respectively.
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