How to File a Case in Consumer Court?

The establishment of the Consumer Courts in India through the introduction of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 embodied the Latin phrase ‘Caveat Venditor’, let the seller beware. The consumer courts that promised fast-paced and low-cost trials for any consumer who feels cheated or justly disgruntled have empowered the consumers with ‘rights and remedies’[1] and have given them a floor to make their voices heard. The enactment of the Act saw the construction of the Consumer Redressal Forums, quasi-judicial bodies, on three different levels for the efficiency of the trials and the convenience of the consumers; the three levels being the District Forum, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. These bodies are headed by qualified judges; the district level is headed by a judge qualified to be or has been a district judge, the state level is headed by the person who has been or is the sitting judge of the High Court, and the national level is headed by the sitting or retired judge of Supreme Court. The relief provided by the Consumer Protection Act is in addition to the remedies available to the aggrieved party from the civil laws.

The concept of Consumer Protection is a productive one. This not only gives every stratum a platform to seek help and justice against the exploitation of the sellers but also has given the consumers rights[2] and has them comprised as an organized sector and most importantly provided a ‘consumer handbook’[3] to educate the general masses in easy language. Over the years the legislators amended the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 to fit the laws with the different needs of the changing time. It was the autumn of 2019 that the Consumer Protection Act got the presidential assent and replaced the old and in parts obsolete act of 1986. The new act includes the aspects of e-commerce in its ambit[4]and takes into consideration the harm caused by misleading advertisements[5], counting it among unfair trade practices, among other inclusive changes.

There must be a few essential requirements to be fulfilled for a case to be taken up by the Consumer Courts.

Who can approach the Consumer Courts?

The first requirement for approaching the court as an individual would be being a consumer. It must be noted that in case of a deceased, the legal heir might approach the courts or if two or more people have the same grievances against the same perpetrator, they might approach the courts together as one case and if the consumer is a minor, the parents can in his behalf. Sometimes it is also the center or the state governments who approach the consumer courts. Section 2(7) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 defines who is considered as a consumer and can reach the courts as such. In a layman’s language, a consumer is a person, who has paid partially or fully, has promised to pay for goods or services. A person who, purchases goods or services for commercial purposes, or resale is not considered to be a consumer.

For what grievances can one reach the Consumer Courts?

Section 2(6) enumerates the topics of the complaints they would cater to. Unfair trade practices, defective goods, services that suffer a deficiency, charging in excess, sale of hazardous goods, knowingly providing a hazardous service are the grievances under the umbrella of this section. A consumer having a complaint about the above-mentioned topic or multiple of them can reach the courts for help within two years of the transaction[6].

Where to approach?

To file a case in the Consumer Court one must be mindful of the jurisdiction their case would fall in. When taking into consideration the pecuniary jurisdiction,[7] a person can approach the District Consumer Court and file for a complaint if the claims for the goods and services are up to ₹ 1 crore; the State Consumer Courts take up cases where the claim is more than ₹ 1 crore and up to ₹ 10 crores. If the claim is beyond the amount of ₹ 10 crores, the matters would be taken up by the National Consumer Forum. If the complainant is not satisfied by the outcome, they can approach the subsequent higher courts in the order with the appeal, and the end of the trail, the Supreme Court. The next is territorial jurisdiction.[8] The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, taking in the note the frequency of e-commerce, has allowed the complainant to file a complaint where the person resides or works.

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 has also given both parties in the case to opting for mediation[9] as an option as a method for resolving the matters.

How to approach?

The procedure of filing a complaint to the Consumer Courts is hassle-free. The aggrieved party need not hire an advocate to file the complaint in the Consumer Fora. When approaching the court in person, the complaint should be written down on a plain paper by the complainant; the complaint document should hold all the relevant details about the purchase or services availed and the grievances that arose from the same and the relief wanted. With the document, the proof of the transaction like the bills or receipts should be attached.  The complaint should be notarised through the post.  The nominal charges for the complaint should also be sent with the documents in the form of a demand draft in the name of the body one is approaching. If approaching through the appellate jurisdiction, the documents should also contain the order by the previous court and any other orders relevant.

While filing the complaint online, the party should register to the site of Consumer Helpline[10] and go on to fill out the form for registering their complaints under the same heading. The relevant documents can be uploaded and the fee can be transferred through online transactions. Different helplines and FAQs have been provided to help the consumer with each step while filing for a complaint. Once the complaint is filed, it is upon the members of the particular Consumer Court to analyze the validity of the case and to take it or not.


[1] History, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Last Accessed on   28th May, 2020.

[2] The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Acts of Parliament, 2019, sec. 2(9)

[3] Consumer Handbook, Department of Consumer Affairs,

[4] The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Acts of Parliament, 2019, sec. 2(16)

[5] The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Acts of Parliament, 2019, sec. 2(47)(i)(i)

[6] The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Acts of Parliament, 2019, sec. 69

[7] The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Acts of Parliament, 2019, sec. 34

[8] The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Acts of Parliament, 2019, sec. 34(2)

[9] The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Acts of Parliament, 2019, sec. 37, 74

[10] National Consumer Helpline,

This article is written by Setakshi Pratha, student of 1st year B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law

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