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Where should I file an appeal for consumer protection?

Appeal against District Forum

First Appeal lies before the State Commission. Section 15 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 stipulates that any person aggrieved by the order of the District Forum where the complaint was initially filed, may file an appeal to the State Commission.  Such power to entertain appeal is given to the State Commission under Section 17a(i) of the Act.  The prescribe period to file an appeal within 30 days from the date of order, provided the State Commission may entertain appeal after the prescribed period if the sufficient cause or reason stated for delay is satisfied by the Commission.  State Commission shall not entertain the appeal unless the person who filed the appeal has not deposited 50% of or Rs. 25000/- whichever is less while filing the appeal.

Appeal against the order of State Commission:

Section 19 of the Act provides that any person aggrieved by the order of the State Commission established by the State Government, may prefer to file an Appeal before National Commission within 30 days from the date of order.  Such power to entertain the appeal conferred on National Commission under Section 21 a(i) of the Act.  National Commission may entertain Appeal if filed beyond prescribed period with if the Commission satisfied with the sufficient cause stated in the Petition, however, National  Commission shall not entertain the Appeal unless the prescribed fee is deposited i.e. 50% of amount or Rs. 35,000/-, whichever is less.

Appeal against the order of National Commission:

Section 23 provides that Appeal against order of National Commission, established by the Central Government, could be filed before Supreme Court within period of 30 days from the date of the order, provided, the Supreme Court may entertain the Appeal filed beyond such prescribed period, if it satisfied with the sufficient cause and deposition of 50% amount or Rs. 50,000/- whichever is less.

With regard to the limitation period, in a  landmark judgment France B Martins and Others vs Mafaida Maria Teresa Rodrigues, preliminary objection on filing of complaint after seven years after the cause of action was raised, and Suprement Court  it was held that the question of limitation was mixed with question of law and fact, if the delay properly explained and condoned, the case can be tried by the Courts.  As filing of Appeals beyond the limitation period, the Supreme Court in its latest judgment General Manager Northern Railway Vs. Julfi Ram and Others, dismissed the application for condonation of delay stating that “liberal approach in considering sufficiency of cause for delay should not override substantial law of limitation, especially when court finds no justification for delay” and in Sahara India Commercial Corporation Limited vs. Ritarani Parhi it was held that “one of primary objectives behind enactment of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is to provide speedy relief to consumers in a time bound manner and Delay of more than nine months in filing appeal cannot at all be said justified nor was it explained to satisfaction”, and has dismissed the application.

By Anitha Gutti