Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Motor Accident Claims Tribunal

Motor Accident Claims Tribunal has been constituted in different areas by different State Governments for the speedy disposal of third party claims for compensation in respect of road accidents (Sec. 110 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1939). The tribunal deals with matters related to compensation of motor accidents victims or to their relatives.

MACT Courts are presided over by a person of the rank of a District Judge or High Court Judge. A Claims Tribunal consists of two or more members, one of them should be appointed as the Chairman. Motor Accident Claims Tribunals have the exclusive jurisdiction to decide the claims relating to death, personal injury and damage to property resulting from Motor Accidents. So all the all third party claims for personal injury and property damage have to be filed with the claims tribunals. The tribunal is deemed to be a Civil Court and exercise all the powers of a Civil Court for the purpose of taking evidence on oath, enforcing the attendance of witnesses and of compelling the discover and production of documents, etc.

Recently, General Insurance Corporation of India introduced "Lok Adalats", (People's Court) with a view to speedy disposal of third party claims. All third party claims for personal injury and property damage pending are processed by insurers through this Adalaths with the help of their advocates and those of the claimants. In Lok Adalats many claims are disposed off in a single day. Sec. 168 of the Act states very clearly the duty and obligation for the Claims Tribunal to give prior notice for the third party's application for compensation to the Insurer as also giving opportunity to the Insurer of being heard. Under Sec. 147 (2) (b) of 1988 Act , the limit for compulsory third party Property damage remains at Rs. 6,000 only. All third party claims property damage up to Rs. 6000/- have to be filed with claims tribunals. Claim for compensation in respect of damage to property exceeding rupees six thousand may, at the option of the claimant, be referred to a Civil Court for adjudication.

Consumer Court/ Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (CDRF)

Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum also known as Consumer Forum or Consumer Court are the judiciary establishment by the government to protect the consumer rights. The court deals with cases regarding consumer disputes and grievances. Consumers can file a case before this court against a seller if they are harassed or exploited by sellers. Consumer has to produce proof of exploitation, i.e., bills or other documents along with the application otherwise it would be very difficult for them to win the case. One cannot file a complaint in a consumer court if two years have elapsed after the cause of action. Consumer can represent himself without any help of a lawyer. There is no need of paying any court fee but just a nominal fee .The main function of consumer court is to maintain the fair practices by the seller or the service provider towards the consumer. 

Inorder to provide simple, speedy and less expensive redressal of consumer disputes and grievance  'Consumer Protection Act 1986', provides for the creation of consumer courts at District, State and National level : 

District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF)

The state government creates the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum at the district level. The President who is or has been a District Judge nominated by the Government is the head of this Forum. It also consists of two other members. One Member shall be a woman. The state government appoints the President and other members. The District Consumer Forum cannot conduct a hearing without the President and at least one other member. A consumer can file a complaint with the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum if the compensation sought is less than 20 lakhs. The court can hear cases for any company that operates an office or a within the district's limits or if the complaint occurred, either partially or fully, within the district. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has the same powers as a civil court under Code of Civil Procedure 1908.

State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC)

The state government created the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at the state level. The state Commission consists of a President who is or has been a Judge of a High Court and other two members (one is a lady member). The State Commission has got both original and appellate jurisdiction to entertain complaints. A consumer can file a complaint with the state Commission if the compensation sought is between 20lakhs and 1crore. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission hears cases of appeals against the judgment of district forum, Cases for companies that operate either an office or a branch within the state, Cases where the actual reason for filing the complaint occurred within the state, either partially or fully within the state. As per law, the State Consumer Court has to function in the state capital, but the government has the powers to shift it as required.

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC)

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission was established by the central government at New Delhi. It is the highest court of appeal regarding consumer disputes and grievances in India. The National Commission works for the whole country. The commission consists of a president who is a sitting or retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India and ten other members. The National Commission deals with the complaints if the compensation sought is more than 1crore. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission also hears the cases shifted from one State Consumer Court to another in the interest of justice, Cases where orders have been passed in the absence of either parties (ex-parte orders), State Consumer Courts cases where there have been allegations or proof of material irregularities or any other illegal activities. In some cases the National Commission provides free legal service to the complainant/petitioner if he is not able to appoint a lawyer.

A consumer can file an appeal to the State Commission if he is not satisfied by the decision of District Forum. He can appeal to the National commission against the order of the State Commission. An appeal to these court can be filed within a period of 30 days after the order has been passed.