An Explainer: Summary Proceedings
Consumer court proceedings for faster redress of consumer complaints are referred to as summary proceedings.
PropGuide explains summary proceedings.
Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the government has set up quasi judicial bodies at district, state and national levels to address consumer grievances.
According to the official website of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, currently there are 629 district forums and 35 state forums, along with a national commission, across the country. According to the Act, a consumer can approach these bodies for any defects in “goods” or “services”. While the term “goods” covers items manufactured and sold by wholesalers or retailers, “services” include banking, medical, insurance, housing, transport, electricity, etc.
“Summary” in nature, the consumer court proceedings focus on addressing cases in the quickest manner possible, a benchmark much-emphasised by the Act. To achieve this, these bodies examine your documents and pass judgments based on them. The normal time-taking process of cross-examining parties, taking verbal testimony, etc, are not part of consumer forum hearings. For a complaint on services/goods worth up to Rs 20 lakh, you can approach the district forum, and for those involving up to Rs 1 crore, you can approach the state consumer court. On matters worth more than Rs 1 crore, you have to approach the national consumer court.
In the context of real estate, home buyers can approach these courts for summary proceedings if they have issues with developers. The matter could be taken to the state forum or the national forum in case of any dissatisfaction on the buyer's part. When the proposed Real Estate Regulatory Authority is set up, summary proceedings may become even quicker.