Understanding the Jurisdiction of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC)
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) is a quasi-judicial body established under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, with the primary objective of protecting consumers’ rights and interests in India. NCDRC plays a pivotal role in the resolution of consumer disputes and has a wide-ranging jurisdiction. In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of NCDRC’s jurisdiction and the types of cases it handles.
Jurisdiction over Monetary Claims:
One of the key aspects of NCDRC’s jurisdiction pertains to the pecuniary jurisdiction, which determines the threshold amount of monetary claims for cases that can be filed before the Commission. As per Section 34(1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the NCDRC has the authority to hear cases involving claims exceeding one crore rupees. This means that any consumer dispute where the value of goods or services, along with compensation claimed, exceeds one crore rupees can be brought before the NCDRC.
In 2021 Centre government notified the rules for Consumer Protection (Jurisdiction of the District Commission, the State Commission and the National Commission) Rules, 2021 in which revised pecuniary jurisdiction for entertaining consumer complaints shall be upto 1–
1) 50 lakh for District Commissions,
2) More than ₹50 lakh to ₹2 Crore for State Commissions and
3) More than ₹2 Crore for National Commission
Jurisdiction over Unfair Trade Practices and Deficiency in Services:
Apart from the monetary aspect, the NCDRC also has jurisdiction over a wide array of consumer-related issues. It can hear cases related to unfair trade practices, such as misleading advertisements or false representations by manufacturers or service providers. Consumers can approach the NCDRC when they believe that they have been subjected to deceptive marketing practices.
Furthermore, NCDRC handles cases involving deficiencies in services, wherein a consumer has received substandard services or products compared to what was promised or expected. This could encompass various sectors, including healthcare, real estate, and telecommunications.
Jurisdiction over Product Liability:
The NCDRC is empowered to adjudicate on matters related to product liability as well. If a consumer suffers harm due to a defective product or a product not meeting the promised standards, they can approach the Commission for redressal. The manufacturer, seller, or service provider may be held liable, and compensation can be awarded to the affected consumer.
Class Action Suits:
One unique feature of the NCDRC’s jurisdiction is its authority to entertain class action suits. Under Section 58 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, consumers can file complaints as a group when they have similar grievances against the same manufacturer or service provider. This mechanism enables consumers to collectively seek justice and compensation for widespread issues, making the process more efficient and cost-effective.
It’s important to note that decisions made by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (SCDRC) can be appealed before the NCDRC. If a party is dissatisfied with the judgment or order of an SCDRC, they can file an appeal within 30 days. This provision allows for a hierarchical system of consumer dispute resolution, ensuring that consumers have recourse to a higher authority if required.
1. Gurshinder Singh v. Shriram General Insurance Company Ltd. (2020)
In this particular case, the individual who brought forth the appeal had previously insured their tractor with the party being accused. Subsequently, the tractor was stolen, and a First Information Report (FIR) was promptly filed on the same day. However, when the individual later submitted a claim to the accused party, it was declined on the basis of a 52-day delay in providing the notification. The appellant then proceeded to file a consumer complaint with the District Consumer Forum. Upon further review and consideration, the Supreme Court ruled that a mere delay in informing the insurance company about the theft should not serve as a valid reason to reject an insurance claim.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) holds a crucial position in India’s consumer protection framework. Its jurisdiction extends beyond mere monetary claims to encompass a wide range of consumer-related issues, including unfair trade practices, product liability, and deficiencies in services. The introduction of class action suits provides a powerful tool for consumers to collectively seek justice. Furthermore, the NCDRC’s appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions ensures a robust mechanism for consumer redressal. With its broad and comprehensive jurisdiction, the NCDRC plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the rights and interests of consumers across the country. It stands as a beacon of consumer protection, ensuring that justice is accessible to all, regardless of their financial means.