Thanks to our friend Mr. Muralidhar Rao, here is a brief summary on how to file the complaint with the consumer court. The process of approaching a consumer forum/court to get your grievances whether in terms of wrong billing by utility companies, deficiency in service provided vis-a-vis against the charged fees etc., involves mainly 5 steps:
- Filing a complaint with the consumer court
- Admission of the case
- Hearing of the case
- Final Order
- Appeal against the court order
Filing the complaint
- Submit the complaint in quadruplicate - typical format attached, along-with DD/ PO for Rs 100/- (upto compensation claim of Rs 1 lakh), and note down the serial number allotted (eg 2826/2009, in my complaint against AIRTEL).
- Address where the complaint needs to be filed: The Bangalore Urban DCDRF, 8th floor, BWSSB Wing, Cauvery Bhavan, Bangalore 560009.
- Obtain the date of admission (in court) - It can be decided by the PRO himself, and the complainant advised accordingly at the time of filing itself. From the experience recorded by another litigant, apparently, this is decided by the judges, and can be known only some 2/ 3 days after the filing of the complaint. And, though, can get most information required over phone from the PRO, apparently, the sometimes might not be lucky (may be my gray hair helped). They readily respond to phone calls, and as long as your queries are specific, you can get the information required over phone itself. Otherwise, they will suggest you visit the office.
- Phone nos: 2221 1137, 2571 5747
Admission of the Case
- On the date of admission, which is presently well within 15 days of lodging a complaint, you need to be present in the court at 11AM, the time of opening of the court. (Of course, if you are engaging a lawyer, perhaps he/ she can represent you).
- Before entering the court hall, check the listing on the notice board just outside the hall.
- The admission cases will be listed first, and all that happens that day, is recording your presence, and assigning a day for the next hearing, allowing for sufficient time for the complaint copy to be reached by the court to the opposite party.
Actual Hearing of the Case
- At the next hearing, which is the actual hearing of the case, both the parties will be asked to submit affidavits at the subsequent hearing, date for which is given on this day. If a litigant chooses to submit an affidavit at this stage itself, I am not sure it will be accepted by the court.
- Next comes submission of written arguments, thereafter verbal arguments, and finally the order, all in succession, some 15 days apart, and for each of which you need to be present in person.
- If you are unable to be present at a hearing, call up the PRO and get the next hearing date by giving the complaint no and the date of the hearing you missed. If you absent yourselves at two consecutive hearings, at the third, the case is likely to be closed. The case can be revived through a simple letter addressed to the Forum, if it is approached within a month of closure.
Finally, the court order/ruling
- After verbal arguments are heard by teh court, on or after 15 days, court finally prounces its order, and for which you need to be present in person.
- An order can be challenged by an aggrieved party, within one month of the date of the order, with the appellate authority. If not appealing, and not complying, the court can issue an arrest warrant against the defaulter.
- Of course, switch off mobiles, or put them on silent mode, and maintain silence.
- If you manage to get a chair, do not slouch into it, and do not sit cross-legged.
- When the judges make their entry, stand up, and resume your seat only after the judges have taken their seat.
- When the court is in session, if leaving, back out the first few steps, before turning around.
- No reading of newspapers or magazines within the hall, while waiting for your case to come up.