The Consumer Protection Act is an important tool in the hands of the common man. To ensure that he is able to enforce his rights in an informed manner the following article by Anuj D. Aggarwal published in the New Indian Express dated 10 th April `2006 is reproduced below:

The government has not prescribed any statutory form in which an appeal must be filed under the Consumer Protection Act, (CPA) 1986. However, it is necessary to keep the following points in mind while drafting an appeal. Other relevant information such as the full name and complete address of the appellant and the respondent should be included.

1) An appeal can be preferred against the order of the district forum to the state commission; from the state commission to the national commission and from the national commission to the Supreme Court. The CPA mentions that the appeals should be filed within 30 days of the date of the order. In my view, the correct interpretation of this is within 30 days of the communication of the order because several days may pass between the passing of the order and its actual receipt. For every order to be effective, it has to be communicated. The date on which the order of the district forum/state commission/national commission has been communicated should be noted by the person who receives it.

2) An appeal may be entertained after the expiry of the period of 30 days if the appellant shows that there was sufficient cause for the delay in the filing of the appeal. In such cases, an application for the condonation of delay must be made along with the appeal and supported by an affidavit setting out reasons for the delay and accompanied by necessary evidence.

3) The appellant must enclose the original copy of the order against which an appeal is made along with the main set of the appeal. In the additional sets to be presented, photocopy of the order duly certified by the appellant should be attached along with the additional copies of the appeal. The petition of appeal should also be accompanied by such other documents that an appellant would require supporting his grounds of objection mentioned in the appeal.

4) While filling an appeal, a memorandum of grounds has to be set out. The appeal petition should be presented in a paper-book form typed on one side of the paper with double spacing. The grounds of appeal should be set forth concisely under distinct heads, which should be numbered consecutively. Give an index of the documents attached to the petition on the first page and page numbers mentioned on all papers filed.

5) The appeal can be sent in English, Hindi or in the regional language of the State. However, if the appeal is made to the national commission or to the Supreme Court, then it is better to make it in English. In addition, if the address of the opposite party falls in another state or Union territory, then it is better to make the appeal in English.

6) The appeal should be signed by the appellant. In case somebody else has been authorized to appeal on the behalf of the appellant, then he must enclose the authority of the appeal. The person having an authority may sign it and indicate the reasons why the applicant himself is not able to sign the appeal. For example, when the appellant is out of India.

7) Send four sets of the appeal petition and the accompanying papers when making an appeal to the state commission; six sets of the appeal papers including the additional documents when appealing to the national commission and seven sets of the appeal papers along with the documents if the appeal is to be filed in the Supreme Court. The number of copies should be increased correspondingly in case there is more than one opposite party.

8) Is there any stipulated period within which an appeal should be decided under the CPA? The CPA does not stipulate a time limit for the disposal of an appeal by a consumer forum. However, the rules framed under the CPA mention the time within which an appeal should be decided. Rules framed by different state governments lay down different time limits it is generally 90 days from the date of the first hearing.

The author is a leading advocate from Amritsar

July-September 2006