It’s vital to remember that appeals preferred to consumer fora come with a time limit
Just as it is for for filing a complaint in the Consumer Forum, there’s a time limit for appeals as well. According to Section 15 of the Consumer Protection Act, any person aggrieved by an order of the District Forum may prefer an appeal against such order before the State Commission. However, this has to be done within 30 days from the date of the order. Also, if it is required to pay any amount in terms of an order of the District Forum, the appellant will have to deposit in the prescribed manner — 50 per cent of that amount or Rs. 25,000, whichever is less, failing which, the State Commission will not entertain the appeal.
Nonetheless, the State Commission may entertain an appeal even after the expiry of the specified period, provided, it is satisfied there was sufficient cause for not filing within the said time-frame.
Recently, a revision petition challenging the order passed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of Raipur was dismissed by the National Commission. The complainant had insured his vehicle with the petitioner, i.e., the insurance company. During the insurance period, the truck met with an accident and subsequently, the claim submitted by the complainant was rejected. The complainant approached the District Forum, and the Forum directed the petitioner to pay Rs. 2,99,250 within one month from the date of the judgment and interest at nine per cent till the date of payment, along with Rs. 1,000 as compensation and Rs. 500 towards costs.
Challenging this, the petitioner filed an appeal before the State Commission. However, the deposit required to be made for the appeal to be entertained was done 21 days after the expiry of the limitation period.
When the Commission questioned the reasons for the delay, an executive from the company filed an affidavit stating that the main server at the head office had become defective, and therefore the bank concerned could not be instructed to prepare the cheque on time.
The Commission refused to accept this and asked whether the company usually stopped all activities due to such server failure. The company did not respond to this query. The Commission observed that since the company’s explanation sounded as an afterthought defence and was not supported by an affidavit, and thus dismissed the case.
Later, when the revision petition was filed, the National Commission found no illegality in the impugned order passed by the State Commission and dismissed the case.
Clearly, it is good to have a knowledge on such matters so that the complaint / appeal is not barred by limitation.
(The writer works with CAG, which offers free advice on consumer complaints to its members. For membership details / queries contact 2491 4358 / 2446 0387 or email@example.com)