The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) on 7 September last year launched the facility of electronic filing of consumer complaints and their digital payments, through its online portal — eDaakhil.
As of November 27, as many as 9,800 online complaints were lodged in the country’s consumer commissions, of which 213 cases were disposed of via the eDaakhil. These included 158 cases at the district level, 18 cases at the state level, and 37 cases at the national level.
In a bid to avoid fraudulent purchases, e-commerce merchants are required to provide product details like maximum retail price, expiry date, country of origin, refund and return details, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, and other relevant details, in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
Nidhi Khare, chief commissioner of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), stated that there had been a significant reduction in complaints since these e-commerce rules were notified, making way for faster redressal of consumer grievances.
“The intention is to inform people about what all they should look for while buying any commodity or availing any service. If not [through the eDaakhil], the second option to get their concerns addressed can be the National Consumer Helpline and the third option is to file complaints in the consumer commissions,” Union Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier said.
What is eDaakhil?
The responsibility of implementing the Consumer Protection Act lies with the Department of Consumer Affairs, which functions separately from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, in a bid to facilitate and prioritise smooth consumer movement in the country.
The eDaakhil is an online portal that allows consumers to file complaints at their convenience, from anywhere, diminishing the requirement of their physical presence at consumer commissions. Additionally, it also allows for consumer commissions to scrutinise these online submitted complaints and accept, reject or forward these to the concerned commission for further processing.
Developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), the online portal facilitates both online and offline payment, and features other facilities such as an filing an e-notice, downloading the case document link, downloading the video conferring of the court hearing, filing of a written response by the opposite party, filing for a rejoinder by the complainant and subscribing to alerts via SMS or email.
A total of 444 locations are covered under the jurisdiction of eDaakhil, including the NCDRC headquarters in Delhi, state commissions and district commissions. The capital was the first state to implement the e-filing facility on September 8 last year. At 67, it also takes the lead in the number of cases disposed of via eDaakhil, followed by 38 cases disposed of in Maharashtra.
Other states and UTS where the e-facility is operational include Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Puducherry, Haryana and Nagaland.
The eDaakhil has also been integrated with the Common Service Centres (CSC), a mission mode project under the Digital India programme to make public utility services accessible to residents of remote and rural parts of the country. Therefore, consumers who do not have the access or knowledge to operate electronic devices can seek help from their local CSCs to file complaints in the concerned consumer commission.
So how does one register a complaint with eDaakhil?
- In order to initiate a case filing process, consumers must register themselves on the eDaakhil portal (https://edaakhil.nic.in/eDaakhil/).
- This requires the user to have a valid email id and upload a soft copy of any one of their identity cards — voter id, PAN card, passport, ration card, BPL/AAY card, or a driving license. These documents must necessarily be uploaded in the PDF format.
- The user will then receive an account activation link, first as an OTP on their phone, and then on their email.
- Documents required to file a case are index; list of dates; memo of parties; complaint with notarised attested affidavit; fee payable for making consumer complaint; supporting documents in favour of complainant, such as receipts and vouchers, and an application for condonation of delay with notarised attested affidavit.
- Different sections at the time of e-fling involve case details, additional complainant details, additional opposite party details, uploading documents and final submission.
- eDaakhil also enables users to check the lists of their pending drafts, pending payments and approved cases.
Steps of filing a case:
- Click on the tab ‘file a new complaint’, read the disclaimer and enter the value of the claim amount. Select the concerned state and district from the drop-down menu and press continue.
- On the next page, enter the details under categories of complainant details, opposite party details and complainant advocate details.
- Fill in the case summary of your complaint, listing relevant facts in brief. Save the draft.
- In case of multiple complainants, you can also switch over to the additional complainant tab and fill out the required details, adding information for the respective complainant advocate.
- Next, upload all the aforementioned documents next to their required sections. Four documents that have to be mandatorily uploaded are the index, the list of debt and events, the memo of parties, and the complaint with the affidavit.
- To upload additional documents, click on ‘add document’ and provide their descriptions.
- Refer to details in the ‘information panel’ at the bottom of the screen for any guidance, and save your draft.
- Next, you can download a preview of your application which would’ve automatically merged all the submitted documents in a sequential order. You may also be required to choose the consumer commission you need to file your case at.
- Finally, check all boxes to confirm that all required details and documents have been submitted.
- After pressing finalise, you will be directed to an OTP section, which you’ll receive as a message on your phone. Once you fill out the OTP, you will receive an acknowledgement of your submission.
- Next, you’ll be directed to the pending payments section.
How to pay for a consumer complaint?
- In order to proceed with a filed case, users are required to make a payment in either the online or the offline mode.
Under the ‘pending payments’ section, choose the concerned case and click on ‘proceed to pay’.
- In the case filling payment section, the left side of the panel mentions details of the online mode, while the right side mentions the offline mode. Proceed accordingly.
- Offline payments may be fulfilled through bank demand drafts (DDs) or Indian Postal Orders (IPOs), challan, or NEFT/RTGS. After submitting proof of the payment, users will receive a confirmation message and will be able to view their cases on the ’pending approval cases’ tab.
- Meanwhile, online payments can be made through debit and credit cards, internet banking, IMPS, UPI or Aadhaar-based payments. You’ll be directed to the payment gateway page after choosing an option; do not press back or refresh the page until the payment is completed.
- In case of a failed payment, the case will be listed under the ‘check failed transaction’ category in the case filing menu.
Your case will remain in the pending section unless approved by the commission.
How can an opposite party respond?
- Opposite parties can only respond to a complaint that has been approved by the commission.
- After logging in, users can click on the ‘write response’ menu, and choose the ‘by respondent’ category.
- Search the complaint in question by its reference number (right panel) or case number (left panel) and submit the details.
- After being shown and verifying the case details, you can proceed to the ‘filing details’ tab.
- Here, you’ll be able to access and download the documents submitted by the complainant.
- You can now file your reply by uploading the index and the affidavit, and any additional documents.
- Verify and preview the uploaded information, enter the OTP received on your phone number or email, and submit your response.
- The submitted response will remain under the ‘write response’ menu until the commission approves it.
- In case your response is reverted, you may submit it again.
How to file a rejoinder application?
- A rejoinder is filed by the complainant or the complainant advocate.
- To begin the process, click on the ‘file a rejoinder’ submenu under the filing menu on the homepage.
- You will be shown a dialog box labelled ‘my cases’. Click on the plus symbol at the bottom left of the concerned case’s box, which will expand to show information on the opposite party’s details and their response.
- On the response information box, you have the option to download all documents submitted so far and to file the rejoinder.
- You’ll be redirected to the case details page, where you’ll be required to fill out information under the submenus of ‘filing details’ and ‘file case’ rejoinder. Upload relevant documents.
- Verify and preview the uploaded information, enter the OTP received on your phone number or email, and submit your rejoinder.
- Thereafter, rejoinder status may be viewed under the filing menu.
According to the Consumer Protection Act, consumer complaints must be disposed of within three months, when no testing of the concerned products is required. In case any analysis of the product is undertaken, the complaint must be disposed of within five months. The average time taken for grievance redressal through eDaakhil, so far, has been 100 days for district commissions, and 90 days for state commissions.