Can the consumer forum refuse to accept it?
There are certain fundamental parameters, or ‘maintainability criteria’, for any complaint to be accepted for hearing at a consumer forum. In order to ensure that your complaint is not rejected at the forum, you need to prepare it well. You need to first do your homework to understand if the complaint is ‘justifiable’ to be filed at the forum.
Until 2002, consumer forums’ essential work hours were being lost amid the basics of establishing if a particular case could be heard and dealt with in the forum. In a few cases, in the middle of the hearings it was found that either the complainant was not the consumer as per the definition of ‘consumer’ in the law or the subject per say did not fall within the jurisdiction of the forum.
In order to address such situations, an amendment was made in Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Done in 2002, the amendment made it mandatory for the forum to begin investigation into the case only after ensuring the following in the preliminary hearings:
1. The complainant is a consumer (see box to know definition of consumer)
2. The complaint has been filed within limitation of two years
3. The forum/commission has the jurisdiction to hear the case
It is to be noted here that all the above three points have to be established by the forum during the hearing of the case. The authority to establish facts lies with the respective jury of each forum. Also, in case of rejection, the consumer’s right to move and appeal to the higher commission is never compromised.