By Anju D. Aggarwal
The amendments to the Consumer Protection Act that came into effect on March 15 this year have brought about a number of changes in the jurisdiction of the consumer courts. For example, the pecuniary jurisdiction of the District consumer Disputes Redressal Forums have been raised from Rs. 5 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs. In other words, most complaints can now be filed before the District Forums, as they can adjudicate on cases where the claims go upto Rs. 20 lakhs.
Similarly, the pecuniary jurisdiction of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions have gone up. So all claims above Rs. 20 lakh and upto a limit of Rs. 1 crore can now be made before the commissions located in State capitals. The highest Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission will now hear cases where the claims are above Rs. One crore.
Another major change is that new these courts will not take up complaints pertaining to services hired for commercial purposes. Earlier, the law disallowed consumer court from adjudicating on complaints in respect of goods bought for commercial purposes. However, there was no such ban on resolving disputes pertaining to services hired for commercial purposes. The new amendments have now taken out services hired for commercial purposes too from the ambit of the consumer courts.
To put it differently, commercial establishments and industrial houses now cannot use the consumer courts to settle their disputes with bankers, insurers, power supply undertakings and others as they did before. However complaints pertaining to services hired by a person to earn a living through self-employment can still be agitated before the consumer courts.
Following source of these changes, insurance companies and even banks against which commercial establishments had filed cases, challenged the jurisdiction of the consumer forums to hear such cases. Similarly, in some other cases, the opposite parties argued before the National commission that cases where the claims were in the range of Rs. 25 lakhs ought to be transferred to the State Commissions in view of the changed pecuniary jurisdictions of the National Commission. Earlier, at a conference of Presidents of the State Commission too, some of these questions were raised and the State Commissions wanted to know if they should transfer cases which do not fall within their pecuniary jurisdiction to the District Forums.
In a recent order, the apex consumer court deliberated over these issues and its final views as expressed in the order are extremely important. As far as pecuniary jurisdiction is concerned, the National Commission made it clear that the amendments are prospective in nature and therefore the earlier law (or pecuniary jurisdiction) will apply to all cases filed before March 15.
Similarly, complaints pertaining to services hired for commercial purpose will still be heard by the consumer courts, so long as they have been filed before March 15.
Addresses :- There are four district forums functioning in and around Mumbai. Their addresses and phone numbers are :-
Central Bombay District Forum
Room No. 606 to 611
Mumbai – 400034
Tel : 24937770
Bombay Suburban District Forum
New Administrative Building 3rd floor,
Near Chetna College,
Mumbai – 400051
Tel : 26551625
South Bombay District Forum (Additional)
Room No.606 to 611
Mumbai – 400034
Tel : 2491-1737
Thane District Forum
C/o. Colleectors Office
Thane – 400601
Tel : 25344069
There is a State Commission in Mumbai.
Its address and phone no is :-
Maharashtra State Commission,
Room No. 1 & 2, Old Administrative Staff College,
Building, Opp. V.T.Station, Hazarimal Somani Marg,
Mumbai – 400001 Tel : 22072097 / 22057409
The National Commission is located in New Delhi Its address is :-
A Wing, 5th floor, Janpath Bhawan, New Delhi – 110001
By Anju D. Aggarwal