The Centre has notified new rules to revise pecuniary jurisdiction for entertaining consumer complaints at district, state and national level commissions, a move aimed at fast disposal of cases.
According to the new rules, district commissions will have jurisdiction to entertain complaints up to Rs 50 lakh worth value of goods or services as against the earlier limit of up to Rs 1 crore, according to an official statement.
State commissions will now have jurisdictions for more than Rs 50 lakh and up to Rs 2 crore.
Earlier, the limit for them was more than Rs 1 crore and up to Rs 10 crore.
“National commission shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration exceeds Rs 2 crore,” the statement said.
The Centre has notified rules for the Consumer Protection (Jurisdiction of the District Commission, the State Commission and the National Commission) Rules, 2021.
“The revised pecuniary jurisdiction for entertaining consumer complaints shall be up to 50 lakh for district commissions, more than Rs 50 lakh to Rs 2 crore for state commissions, more than Rs 2 crore for the national commission,” the statement said.
The new rules have been framed under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which promulgates a three-tier quasi-judicial mechanism for redressal of consumer disputes namely district commissions, state commissions and national commission.
The Act stipulates the pecuniary jurisdiction of each tier of consumer commission.
“After the Act came into force, it was observed that the 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,” the statement said.
This caused a significant increase in the workload of district commissions, leading to a rise in pendency and delay in disposal of cases, it added.
This defeated the object of securing speedy redressal to consumers as envisaged under the Act.
With regard to revision of pecuniary jurisdiction, the Centre held wide consultation with states/UTs, consumer organisations, law chairs etc.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, stipulates that every complaint shall be disposed of as expeditiously as possible.
The endeavour should be made to decide the complaint within 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 five months if it requires analysis or testing of commodities.
The Act also provides for filing consumers complaints electronically.
The Centre has set up the E-Daakhil Portal, which provides a hassle-free, speedy and inexpensive facility to consumers to conveniently approach the relevant consumer forum, dispensing the need to travel and be physically present to file their grievance.
The portal has many features like e-Notice, case document download link and VC hearing link, filing written response by the opposite party, filing rejoinder by complainant and alerts via SMS/e-mail.
Currently, the 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 43,000 users have registered on the portal.
To provide a faster and amicable mode of settling consumer disputes, the Act also includes a reference of consumer disputes to mediation, with the consent of both parties.
This will not only save the time and money of the parties involved in litigating the dispute but will also aid in reducing the overall pendency of cases, the statement said.