Deficiency in Service as per Consumer Protection Act

By Krishna Kant Choubey

Published on: January 11, 2024 at 10:04 IST

The Consumer Protection Act,2019 (CPA) serves as a sentinel, in protecting consumers’ interests and rights in an environment that is complex. The CPA, was enacted with the primary goal of ensuring that customers are treated fairly and justly, plays a critical role in handling grievances stemming from deficiencies in services supplied by businesses and service providers. In this article we will in-depth explore the complexities of “Deficiency in Service” under the Consumer Protection Act, unraveling its varied features and revealing the remedies open to consumers.

As per the Consumer Protection Act, deficiency in service refers to any fault, imperfection, shortcoming, or inadequacy in the quality, nature, or manner of performance of services. Consumers have the right to seek redress for such deficiencies, and the Act provides mechanisms for resolving disputes arising from subpar services.

Consumer Protection Act, which provides a legal framework, is at the center of this investigation. This Act not only recognizes service deficiencies but also describes service providers’ obligations, establishing a framework within which consumer complaints can be addressed. Sections of the Consumer Protection Act that are expressly intended to deal with deficiency in service problems serve as our guiding lights as we navigate the legal complexities.

A “deficiency in service” is defined as any flaw, imperfection, shortcoming, or inadequacy in the quality, character, and manner of performance that is required to be maintained by or under any legislation currently in force or that has been undertaken to be performed by a person in accordance with a contract.

Section 2 (11) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 elucidates the concept of Deficiency of Service, characterizing it as the presence of any fault, imperfection, shortcoming, or inadequacy in the quality, nature, and manner of performance. This must align with the standards mandated by existing laws or the commitments undertaken by a person in adherence to a contract or any other obligation concerning a service. This definition encompasses instances of negligence, omission, commission, as well as the intentional withholding of pertinent information by the service provider to the consumer (a).

Moreover, the term ‘defect’ as defined in Section 2 (10) of the same Act pertains to any fault, imperfection, or shortfall in the quality, quantity, potency, purity, or standard that is legally required or assured under any existing law or contractual agreement. The expression ‘defective’ is to be construed accordingly.

Deficiency of service is prevalent in various buyer-seller relationships across sectors such as legal aid, banking, railways, construction, transportation, education, electricity, entertainment, restaurants, and hospitality Etc. The repercussions of such deficiencies can span from inconveniences or harassment to mental or physical harm, and in extreme cases, may even result in fatalities, thereby triggering legal consequences.

Understanding the aspects of service deficiency requires a comprehensive study of consumer expectations and the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) regulations. The CPA, a legislative framework meant to protect consumer rights, defines service deficiency as a violation of the consumer’s right to receive services that meet quality, safety, and utility standards. This multidimensional notion encompasses a wide range of topics, including:

Legal Framework in Consumer Protection Act

Consumers have the liberty to approach Consumer Courts for redressal in case of service deficiencies. The new Consumer Protection Act, 2019, allows electronic filing of consumer complaints, simplifying the process. The Consumer Court is divided into District, State, and National levels based on the valuation of the matter.


Consumers can follow a three-step approach:

  1. Utilize the service provider’s internal grievance redressal mechanism.
  2. Send a legal notice to the service provider before filing a complaint in the consumer forum.
  3. Lodge a legal complaint if the service provider fails to resolve the issue.

Time Period to File Consumer Complaint:

The timeframe for filing a consumer complaint is outlined in the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. As per Section 35 of the Act, a complaint must be submitted to the respective District Forum within two years from the occurrence of the deficiency in service or defect in goods. However, if the consumer provides valid reasons and the District Forum concurs, the complaint’s filing period may extend beyond the initial two years.

Additionally, Section 36 of the Act addresses the admissibility of complaints by stipulating that consumers must file complaints within 21 days from the date of filing.

Mediation is presented as an alternative dispute resolution method in Section 37 of the Act. Parties involved are required to provide written consent within five days for mediation. If an agreement is not reached, the case is referred back to the District Consumer Forum. Notably, Section 81 (1) specifies that no appeal can be filed against the order passed by mediation.

In case of dissatisfaction with the District Consumer Forum’s decision, consumers can file a review application within 30 days of the order pronouncement, as per Section 40. If further dissatisfaction persists, Section 41 allows consumers to approach the State Commission within 45 days from the date of the order.

For matters escalated to the National Commission, Section 50 allows complainants to file a review application within 30 days if they find the State Commission’s order unsatisfactory. Similarly, Section 51 permits consumers to appeal to the National Forum within 30 days if the State Forum’s decision is not deemed satisfactory.

It’s crucial to note that consumers cannot directly file complaints with the Supreme Court. The hierarchy involves progressing through the District Commission, State Commission, and then the National Commission. If dissatisfaction persists even after the National Commission’s decision, the matter can be elevated to the Supreme Court.


The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 provides consumers with many options for resolving service deficiencies. These remedies are critical in ensuring that consumers are adequately reimbursed and that service providers are held accountable for any flaws.

  • Compensation for Loss or Injury

The Consumer Protection Act gives consumers the right to seek compensation for any loss or injury caused by service faults. This includes financial losses or physical harm caused by subpar services.

  • Replacement for Goods

When goods or services are determined to be defective, consumers have the right to demand replacement. This remedy assures that consumers obtain what they initially bargained for, thereby correcting the defects.

Replacement offers consumers a direct option, fixing flaws in the given items or services.

  • Refund of the Price Paid

Consumers can seek a refund of the price they paid for defective goods or services under the Act. This therapy is especially useful when the shortage is severe and cannot be remedied through compensation or replacement.

  • Discontinuation of Unfair Trade Practices

When shortcomings occur as a result of unfair commercial practices, consumers can seek an end to these activities. This remedy focuses on preventing such activities from occurring again, benefiting not only the specific consumer but also others who may be affected.

These case studies highlight real-world examples of consumers navigating service shortcomings by using legal remedies available under the Consumer Protection Act. Each case provides a distinct perspective on the issues that consumers encounter, demonstrating how the Act acts as a critical instrument in protecting their rights and seeking remedy for unsatisfactory services.

The Court ruled that insurance claims should not be declined solely on technical grounds and emphasized that a delay in intimating the insurance company should not be a valid reason if the claim is genuine.

This landmark case recognized patient’s rights, granting them consumer status for lodging complaints in cases of medical service deficiencies. It emphasized the importance of maintaining a standard duty of care by hospitals.

The appellant’s mother rented a locker from the respondent bank’s Deshapriya Park, Kolkata branch. The appellant/complainant was listed as a joint locker holder. The appellant went to the respondent bank to use the locker and pay the locker rent. The appellant, on the other hand, was notified that the bank had broken open his locker due to non-payment of rent dues. In addition, the locker had been reassigned to another customer. When the appellant proceeded to get the contents of the locker, he discovered just two of the seven ornaments that had been placed in the locker in an unopened packet. The respondent bank, on the other hand, claimed that only those two decorations were discovered when the appellant’s locker was smashed open. The inventory prepared by the respondent demonstrates this. When the locker was busted open in the presence of a third party. Following that, the appellant filed a consumer complaint with the District Consumer Forum. Furthermore, on appeal, the Supreme Court provided instructions on locker allotment and operation, and the court concluded that banks will be liable under the Consumer Protection Act.

The case of LIC of India vs. Consumer Education & Research Centre (1995) was the delay in resolving an insurance claim, which the court found a deficiency in service. The Consumer Education & Research Centre (CERC) filed a complaint against LIC of India, claiming that the insurance company’s lengthy delay in settling the claim constituted a failure to fulfill its service commitments.

In its decision, the court stressed the critical importance of insurance firms adhering to fast claim settlement as a vital component of their service obligation. In this case, the delay was interpreted as a violation of the consumer’s rights and a failure to satisfy the standards required in the insurance sector.

As a result, the Court was in favor of the Consumer Education & Research Centre, ordering the LIC of India to give the complaint compensation. This case established a precedent by emphasizing the responsibility of insurance providers to provide fast and efficient claim settlements in order to avoid being held accountable for service failures under the Consumer Protection Act.


The Consumer Protection Act, with its strong legal structure and remedies, is a staunch defender of consumer rights in the face of poor service. The Act guarantees real remedy for inadequate services by giving consumers the opportunity to demand compensation, replacement, or refunds. The provision for the cessation of unfair commercial practices strengthens consumer protection by encouraging a marketplace that is transparent and fair.Furthermore, the availability of legal remedy via Consumer conflict Redressal Commissions demonstrates the commitment to unbiased conflict resolution. The Consumer Protection Act, by providing a complete array of remedies, not only addresses individual complaints but also promotes a marketplace in which service providers are held accountable and consumers are assured of a just and equitable experience.

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