District Consumer Forum is now District Commission; will hear cases of value up to ₹1 crore
Under the Consumer Protection Act 2019 which came into effect from July 20, the district Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has now become District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
Consumers and advocates welcomed the upgrading of the forum to a commission in the district and said it will be more beneficial for consumers as it will decrease the case load at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
“The District Commission (earlier referred to as District Forum) can now entertain consumer complaints having value up to ₹1 crore. Earlier the limit was ₹20 lakh,” Gunjan Sharma, advocate and representative of the Consumer Forum Advocates’ Association said Tuesday.
“The State Commission can entertain disputes where such value exceeds ₹1 crore but not more than ₹10 crore, while the National Commission can exercise jurisdiction where such value exceeds ₹10 crore,” said Sharma.
According to him, earlier the State Commission pecuniary jurisdiction was between ₹20 lakh and ₹1 crore and that of the National Commission above ₹1crore. “The new act will decrease the load on the National Commission,” he added.
“The New Act has widened the definition of ‘consumer’. The definition now includes any person who buys any goods, whether through offline or online transactions, electronic means, teleshopping, direct selling or multi-level marketing,” said Sharma.
According to District Courts Bar Association president Sanjeev Verma, the New Act will establish a new regulatory authority known as the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) which will have an investigation wing, headed by a Director-General, which may conduct an inquiry or investigation into violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practices.
“The new Act also contains within it enabling provisions for consumers to file complaints electronically and for hearing and/or examining parties through video-conferencing. This will take time as digital infrastructure has to be provided at district commission,” said Verma.
He added that the Act has made it a criminal offence to publish false or misleading advertisement for manufacturers and services providers. “If found guilty, they could be sentenced to imprisonment for up to two years, besides fined upto ₹10 lakh,” said Verma.
Meanwhile, the District Consumer Commission, which had been non-functional since June 16 as all posts were lying vacant, now has a president and a member. “I and one member have joined and started work from August 21. The Act will be more beneficial for consumers,” said Anil Kumar Pundir president, District Commission.