Time Limit to file Written Version by the Opposite Party


The whole issue centers round the period within which the Opponent has to give his version to the District Forum in pursuance of a complaint, which is admitted under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act.

Upon receipt of a complaint by the District Forum, if the complaint is admitted under Section 12 of the Act, a copy of the complaint is to be served upon the opposite party and as per provisions of Section 13 of the Act, the opposite party has to give his version of the case within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of the copy of the complaint.  There is a further provision in Section 13(2)(a) that the District Forum may extend the period, not exceeding 15 days, to the opposite party for giving his version. 

The Consumer Forums have been liberally extending the period far beyond 45 days. In its decision dated 4 December 2015, the Supreme Court has held that the Forums have no power to extend the period beyond 45 days.

This will cut down the delays to a great extent.

The full decision is available at the following link:

http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgs1.aspx?filename=43159

Simplification of the Procedure


I have always advocated that the Consumer Protection Act is the best option in appropriate cases.

It is faster than other remedies like civil courts.
The fees are nominal.
The consumer himself can file and argue his case.

I attended a talk by Ms. Rajyalakshmi Rao, ex member of the National Consumer Commission on the 28 March 2015.
There are problems which should be sorted out.

Matters can and should be simplified. I am giving a few simple suggestions.

1  The format of the Complaint varies from State to State and Forum to Forum in the same State. This practically forces a complainant to engage a lawyer.

The National Commission can formulate rules specifying the basic format of all the required documents.
So long as these are complied with, the individual Forums and Commissions need not be hyper technical.

2 Far too many adjournments are given.

I do realize that adjournments do have to be given in genuine cases, like the parties’ or advocate’s illnes,  but too many adjournments are given, even when there are no grounds indicated or mentioned. There is a lot of waste of time of all concerned, which could be minimized.

3. There are far  too many similar cases …for instance cases against builders, insurance companies. There are any number of decisions on these issues.

Much of these litigation can be curtailed by imposing heavy costs or damages, where rulings on similar issues are not followed.
For example, builders seem to ignore the law with impunity.. And by the time the issue, say of car parking, forming of housing society, conveyance, handing over of common areas, is decided against  them, they would have enjoyed the benefit for years and decades. Heavy damages should be imposed so that such practice is curtailed. The damages may be given to the Consumer Protection Fund.

4. There are some Forums which have a huge pendency …may be because of vacancies, or because the particular jurisdiction has more litigants.

In such cases, the State Commission can easily transfer some of the pending cases to other Forums or change the territorial jurisdiction so that the workload is better and more evenly  distributed.