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Filing Complaint In Consumer Court India

A while back, I had filed a case in the consumer court of India against HP for giving me a faulty HP printer, which was consuming high amount of ink. I thought it might be beneficial to share the details pertaining to the case so that others could benefit from it.

Should I file a case?
Before proceeding, I would like to clearly mention, that after going through the entire ordeal, I am now of the opinion that one should file a case under only one of the below three conditions:

  1. The amount involved is huge
  2. The judgement passed benefits a larger audience rather than just an individual
  3. It is something that is sensitive in nature. For ex., the negligence of doctors causing the death of your relative (not sure if this comes under the Consumer Court or Criminal Court, but I believe you get the point)

There are many steps from filing the case to judgement. And for every step, the opposite party can be absent for upto 3 to 4 times. Therefore it is not uncommon to take even 25 hearings to pass the judgement. And there is generally only one hearing per month. This could mean that it could take well above two years for the judgement. Not to forget, the opposite party can again challenge the judgement in a higher consumer court.

Therefore, unless you have a strong reason, and strong evidence, the effort and time you put in might not justify the end result.

Types of Consumer Courts
There are three types of consumer court - District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Based on the amount involved in the case, it gets filed in the appropriate forum.

Steps involved

  1. Sending a notice to the opposite party - The first step involved, al though not an actual part of filing a complaint in Consumer Court, but is nevertheless needed, is to send a notice to the Opposite party. This notice should mention the details of the complaint, and what you are seeking, and also that you would file a case in consumer court if no response is received within the stipulated time. It often happens that the opposite party tends to resolve your concern at this stage. If so, consider yourself lucky :). For reference, I am attaching the notices (notice1.pdf and notice2.pdf) and the responses (notice1-response.pdf and notice2-response.pdf) that I got from HP. I had sent two notices as they had requested for some time.
  2. Filing the complaint in Consumer Court - The first step involved is filing the complaint. For this, you will have to submit two copies to the court, and an additional copy for each of the opposite party. Kindly note that you should not submit the original evidence, such as invoices, right now. Another important point to keep in mind is that you can also demand monetary compensation for the time, effort and mental harassment that you had to go through. For reference, I have attached the complaint and affidavit that I have filed (complaint.pdf and affidavit.pdf).
  3. Counter / Response from Opposite Party - After you file the case, the complaint is sent to the opposite party. The opposite party then responds to the complaint. This is known as Counter. For reference, I have attached the counter sent by HP (counter.pdf).
  4. Evidence Under Affidavit / Rejoinder - Next step involved is to file a rejoinder to the counter that has been given by opposite party. The rejoinder serves two purposes. First is to counter-argument the response given by the Opposite Party. Second is to submit the original evidence in support of your arguments (invoices, etc.). For reference, I am attaching the rejoinder and its associated affidavit that I had filed (rejoinder.pdf and rejoinder-affidavit.pdf).
  5. Marking of documents - Next the documents that are submitted as evidence have to be marked by the judge.
  6. Evidence by Opposite Party - After marking of the documents submitted as evidence, the opposite party is asked to submit evidence. In my case, the Opposite Party requested to use the counter as evidence.
  7. Written arguments by Complainant - Next comes submission of the written arguments by the complainant. I requested to use the rejoinder that I submitted for written arguments as I had nothing else to add. For reference, I am attaching the memo that I had submitted requesting using the rejoinder for written arguments (written-arguments-memo.pdf)
  8. Written arguments by Opposite Party - Similarly, the opposite party will also submit the written arguments. In my case, the opposite party requested that the counter be considered as written arguments.
  9. Oral Arguments - In my case, there were no oral arguments. Probably because the amount involved was not huge. But I have heard that oral arguments are part of the process.
  10. Judgement - Now comes the most crucial stage of the entire process, the judgement. The judgement is delivered in the form of a written order. For reference, I am attaching the final written order (order.pdf).
  11. Petition - Assuming that the order is in your favour, and that the opposite party has not responded to the order within 40 days, you will have to file a petition requesting the court to take action against the opposite party for enforcing the order. I was told to submit 5 copies and submit the original order as well (keeping a copy for myself). For reference, I am attaching the petition that I have filed (petition.pdf)

After filing the petition, either the Opposite Party might agree to uphold the order or it might challenge the order in a higher level consumer court.

So, what happened with my case?

I guess this speaks for itself.

Finally, I won the case and HP took back the printer and paid me compensation as per the order passed by the court :).

Case Notes
Aug 2011 - Filed the case
Sep 2011 - Opposite party did not turn up
Oct 2011 - Opposite party did not turn up
Nov 2011 - Opposite party turned up and asked for some more time
Dec 2011 - Opposite party handed over the counter (response to the complaint).
Jan 2012 - Went to the court. Was supposed to submit an evidence under affidavit. But wasn't aware of it.
Feb 2012 - Submitted the evidence under affidavit.
Mar 2012 - Documents were supposed to be marked. But postponed this to April.
Apr 2012 - Documents had been marked. Opposite party had to submit evidence.
May 2012 - Judge was on leave.
Jun 2012 - Opposite Party asked for two weeks time to submit Evidence.
Jul 2012 - Opposite Party again asked for two weeks time to submit Evidence. The Judge marked it as the last chance.
Jul 2012 - Opposite Party asked to use the counter that he gave initially as evidence. Marking of documents and final hearing scheduled for next month.
Aug 2012 - Opposite party was present. Judge asked to come next month. No other conversation.
Sep 2012 - Written arguments to be submitted next month. The previous written evidence could be used for written arguments.
Oct 2012 - Documents were marked now. A 2 minute process where each document/exhibit is marked as A1, A2, .... (probably implying Annexure 1, Annexure 2, ...). Arguments to be submitted next time. As I wanted to use evidence for arguments, I was asked to submit a written memo mentioning this.
Nov 2012 - Submitted written memo requesting to use rejoinder / written evidence for written arguments. (Note: It is always a good idea to take a signature from OP whenever a document is given to them)
Dec 2012 - Case closes. The judge enquired whether the written arguments were submitted and informed that the order would be passed in a week. There were no oral arguments though.
Jan 2013 - Followed up with the court on the status of the order
Feb 2013 - Again visited the court to find the status. Order had been given in my favour.
Mar 2013 - Received the order by post asking the opposite party to compensate for the charges.
Apr 2013 - Went to court to find out what to do next as 40 days has passed. I have been asked to file an Execution Petition. I was told to submit 5 copies and submit the original order as well (keeping a copy for myself).
Jun 2013 - Finally, HP agrees to refund me as per the order and I am asked to collect the cheque.

Comments

Thanks for the blog. It gives clear picture.

dear rahul,
firstly i wish to praise you for the efforts put in by you to elaborate the procedure of going about filing a case in the consumer court. Your sincere and painstaking efforts to digitize /scan all the documents concerned needs an applause since no amount of description could match a glance of the actual document. great effort and thoroughly educating my sincere thanks to you since it has become more than easy for me to prepare my case.

Dear Rahul, I appreciate you for the case you fought against HP for around 2 Years. I want to inform you that in this case you could also share your complaint online to consumer complaints websites like consumerfrauds.com so that people could know about their case and definitely that works for fast results.

Dear rahul
really need to praise you for doing all the stuff for educating other people

Thanks for the positive words. It does take time to blog my experiences but when other people find it useful, it makes it worthwhile.

Dear Rahul
I am thankful for the blog so meticulously written. Day before the forum judge asked me to submit written argument for my case to be heard on 07/04/16. Trying to find some model etc but was informed by the devil's advocate that written arguments are very special things blah blah blah. After going through your blog and the fact that opposite party advocate has filed only one counter and has confirmed that as its rejoinder as its evidence affidavit i am simply submitting a rejoinder to admit my evidence affidavit as my written argument. It saves the day. Wonderful blog and very helpful as it is presented beautifully for layman like me.

Glad to know that you have found it useful :).

I appreciate your GUTS.
Thanks for your blog. I had been fleeced many a time by elite companies, but never ventured for legal procedure on them for simple reason of fear of unending litigation. But this did made a case for simple people like me.

Dear Rahul,
Nice guidelines.Iam now in the same situation and was wondering what is evidence in affidavit.Thanks for the info.
sankaranarayanan

Dear Rahul,

Thank you for taking out the time to write in detail about your consumer court case. I am sure, like me,many are finding it useful. I have a case in the court already. I am suppose to file an affidavit next time. The status say 'Affidavit of Complainant'. I have already submitted an affidavit while filing the evidence. Am I suppose to submit another one? Is that what you have termed as rejoinder-affidavit?
Thanking you.

Generally rejoinder and evidence are submitted together.

Thank you for the clarification

Dear Rahul,
your input is very very useful.In Maharashtra we are expected to submitt three copies of the complaint to the forum. You said that original docs should be submitted along with evidence affidavit.But in case the opposite party goes for an appeal how you will get the original back? Even otherwise one may need the original for a different purpose.Please enlighten as I am in a case now.

I am sorry I don't know the exact answer for your question. I took a copy of the originals just in case for reference later. Maybe you can request for the originals to be returned once the decision is given.

Thanks for your comments and sharing documents. Its a big help for me to fight the case wihtout any legal aid and taking help from post that you share. really apprecite. Kudos!!

Informative blog with an insight for the consumers to know what can be done when a situation comes upfront. For filling a complaint in consumer forum you can reach at 9911547772/9911437772/9911417772

Hello Rahul ,

I am representing myself in a case filed with a Mumbai district consumer court.I have been asked to file
a affidavit of evidence.I am looking for sample affidavits of evidence filed.Any help in this regard is appreciated.Thanks for sharing your experience here.Very informative.

Abhijeet K

Look at the attachment affidavit.pdf

The Mumbai courts require a different affidavit of evidence.This affidavit goes with the complaint and was already submitted.I presented the same as affidavit of evidence but was rejected.

What about Court fees? How you paid it? Nothing is mentioned.
The original copy of notice will not be available since it is been sent to the respondent. Does the xerox copy with proof of delivery serve as evidence?
Do we need to take Notary seal sign in complaint. What about evidences copy attached to complaint? does it need notary seal sign?
Will be happy if you answer my questions above.

Regards,

Rajesh

I don't recollect paying any court fees. Even if they are there, they would be very minimal.
Reg. evidence, I think originals have to be submitted later, not when you file the complaint. While filing the complaint, you will have to attach the xerox.
I am not very sure about the notary sign. I think as the amount involved in my case was not huge, so notary was probably not necessary. But this has been a long time. So don't remember the exact details.

Hi Rahul,
My current case stage is Evidence on Affidavit against builder Unitech for proper delay compensation in delivery of the flat. While submitting petition filing the case, I submitted copy of all documents (Agreement, money receipt, allotment later, last notice to builder etc), Do I need to submit the original version of these documents in "Evidence on Affidavit" ? or the copy of the same is fine? All those original docs are with the bank where I took loan for the flat.

Thanks,
Bama

I had submitted the originals. I do not know if we can submit copies of the original documents.

Very descriptive and useful to Advocates who intend to practise in this LINE OF ACTIVITY. I wish the other Advocates/Clients would take clue from this and do their best in putting such NOTES/BRIEFS for the use of up-coming Advocates. My heartiest kudos..........

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