The District Consumer Forum (DCF) has disposed of 716 cases in the last two years and awarded a compensation of Rs 1.93 crore to the aggrieved parties. A sizable chunk of these cases pertained to insurance claims and consumer durables.
There were ten cases of medical negligence but none of them could be disposed in favour of the complainants for obvious reasons.
The DCF is capable of settling a larger number of cases provided they are fully compliant with the provisions of Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Unfortunately, few people file complaints in the proper format and possess the documentary evidence needed to make a strong claim for compensation.
This is largely due to lack of awareness or negligence, said DCF Chairman Hazrat Rao told The Hindu.
Many consumers forget the fact that there is a time limit (two years from the date of action) for filing a complaint with the DCF. Even many lawyers tend to overlook this.
The CPA has got a provision which allows for the Consumer Forums to condone the delay in filing complaints of deficient services / defective goods under Section 24-A.. Few people are aware of this clause.
Importance of bills
A good number of consumers do not take bills, without which they cannot get compensation.
The CPA has a very long list of services which can be the subject of a complaint but the consumer ought to know the basics.
Tips to consumers
There was a person who approached the DCF with a complaint against the Railways that a train in which he was supposed to travel did not keep its schedule.
The claim has apparently been dismissed as the grievance did not constitute an actionable complaint.
In cases of medical negligence, the allegations could hardly be proved due to a plethora of reasons.
Another thing that has to be borne in mind is that a person who buys hazardous goods cannot be considered a consumer.
Similarly, a person who avails of services for a commercial purpose is not a consumer. A person who approaches the DCF or any other consumer forum has to be acquainted with several such aspects of the CPA lest the claims made by them should be dismissed.