Finish the consumer movement?

If Supreme Court, which everyone normally looks upon as the saviour of the common man, has not done justice to the consumers or the consumer movement, where will the consumers go?

Voluntary consumer movement got a fillip in 1986 after the promulgation of the Consumer Protection Act. Consumer activists were born overnight due to extraordinary initiatives taken by the then government in translating the Act into time-bound quasi-judicial redressal machinery and consultative bodies, which held out enormous hope for the uncared consumers. One of the important aspects of the growth of the consumer movement in this country was the much-touted time bound consumer disputes redressal bodies, known as the District Forum, State Commission and the National Commission.  But, the time limits were rather adhered by exception. Thanks to lack of interest to safeguard the consumer interests in a structured manner, the present central government, in 2005, practically decimated the central consultative body, known as the Central Consumer Protection Council, by simply amending the Consumer Protection Rules, in a hushed manner, as there is no need for such amendments to be ratified by the parliament.

 

Alas, even the Supreme Court which everyone normally look upon as the saviour of the common man, has not done justice to the consumers or the consumer movement or the impoverished voluntary consumer organisations. The case in point is the under-weighment of LPG refills (cooking gas). Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela accidentally stumbled upon this fact, through random sample surveys conducted in July 2000. Indian Oil Corporation as well as the ministry of consumer affairs, Government of India, including the Director (Legal Metrology) were informed and requested to act.  As a consequence/s IOC offered to conduct a joint survey. Since the outcome was worse than even our own independent findings, they excused themselves mid-way through the survey and did not even sign the papers. IOC kept assuring that their LPG bottling plants were fine and wanted the undersigned to visit their plant for a firsthand knowledge. The undersigned being a qualified engineer, on his visit in 2000, in no time assessed that the bottling plant consisting of its semi-automated carousel machine was the root cause of the problem. The information was shared with the plant manager then and there. But he said that all IOC’s bottling plants, numbering 120, were having similar machinery. The company was not willing to accept the fault nor was willing to discuss about a solution. After giving sufficient time and even highlighting this problem in the Central Consumer Protection Council, a case was filed in July 2001, before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).

 

The NCDRC concluded in October 2005 that in the prevailing LPG bottling system, consumers could get less than the stipulated weight of 14.2 kg and hence as an interim measure directed IOC to adopt pre-delivery weight checking of the LPG refill at the consumer’s premises and also to publicise through advertisements as was being done, in a prominent manner, by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation. During the pendency of this case, the Consumer Protection Act was amended from 15th March 2003. Several important provisions which were relevant to this case, especially for awarding punitive damages, payment of penalty when the defective good or deficient service affects large number of consumers, providing adequate cost to the litigant, etc were introduced and the Council in January 2004, itself sought the invocation of those provisions in this case.

 

IOC did not comply with the 2005 directives and NCDRC took on record such behaviour, in 2006 as well as in 2007, at the instance of the Complainant Council.  But the final order of the NCDRC passed in July 2007 glossed over all that and also the prayers of the Council for making the awards as per the amended Act and did not even discuss about that in the final order. The Council’s review before the NCDRC evoked the following admissions by the NCDRC in 2010:

 

Applying this ratio to the facts of present case, we are of the view that the review application for consideration/grant of said prayer(s), which will be deemed to have been declined, is not maintainable under Section 22(2) of the Act. Otherwise also this would require detailed examination of the case which is impermissible under Section 22(2) of the Act. Application is dismissed as such. It will be open to the complainant to have redressal of its grievance as may be permissible under the law.”

 

Hence, the Council appealed to the Supreme Court in 2010 against the final order of the NCDRC made in July 2007, after a delay of 1,071 days.  While the Supreme Court condoned the delay of 1,071 days, obviously because of the review proceedings in the NCDRC contributing to the delay, failed to address the issues raised in the appeal, which were hitherto not addressed by the NCDRC. The judgment of the Supreme Court said that the appeal was ‘infructuous’ as both the government and IOC had complied with the order of the NCDRC. When an individual is dissatisfied with the order of the National Commission, he appeals to the Supreme Court, under Section 23 of the Consumer Protection Act.  The Supreme Court has to conclude only whether the NCDRC order is defective in law or not, based on the facts placed before it. No appeal can become infructuous unless it is filed under Section 27A, where the implementation part is involved. The Supreme Court dismissed the review sought by the Council.  If the judiciary has to fail the consumers, where will he go? The apex court was probably finding the issues raised were too big and the issues relating to “punitive damages” had to be addressed for the first time, under Consumer Protection Act and that too against a state undertaking. A cumulative value of Rs65,000 crore of short-weighed cooking gas refills had been sold by IOC till 2005, the time when an interim order was passed, warranting it to pay at least Rs3,250 crore to the Consumer Welfare Fund.

 

This year's theme of the Consumer’s Day is Consumer Justice Now.  Our experience aptly describes the predicament of the consumers and consumer organisations in this country. 

 

Seldom a voluntary consumer organisation could take up such a major issue, prove it technically correct and provide tangible relief to crores of unsuspecting housewives across the country. Of the 184 bottling plants, of the three oil marketing companies (IOC, BPCL and HPCL), 180 have been automated and the balance will be done within the next financial year. The government (P&NG ministry) was supposed to have spent around Rs300 crore for this modernisation. Unfortunately, the apex court of the country does not provide relief as mandated by the law.

 

 (BVaidyanathan is the chief mentor of the Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela.)

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COMMENTS

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

6 years ago

TO BE FRANK ENOUGH CONSUMER IS BEEN TAKEN FOR RIDE THESE DAYS WITH WEIGHTS AND CONTROLS NOT BEING FOLLOWED AND our generation is also to be blamed, because whatever asked is paid, whatever given is accepted leaving disgrunted elements to be tackled afterwards which gives rise to dissension for future and when more manufacturers/traders follow suit

Vaidyanathan

6 years ago

The CP Act presently provides for awarding 'punitive damages', under sec. 14(1)(d) and for adequate costs to the litigant, under sec. 14(1)(i).

Even before the said amendments were incorporated in the Act, in this particular case, we prayed for the award of 1% of the quantified loss of Rs. 750 crores (per year, actual loss and not the value of short-weighed refills sold), because IOC was indifferent to our complaints, the loss inflicted was huge and was construed as practically non-refundable to the consumers; and the consumer organisation also needed funds to pursue consumer protection activities including the public interest class action petitions. In a big boost to our claim (prayer), the Act got amended from 15th March 2003 with a provision for awarding a minimum of 5% of the value of defective goods sold/deficient services rendered (much higher than the actual loss).

Interestingly, the relevant amendment to the Consumer Protection Rules for diverting such funds to the Consumer Welfare Fund came about after an year or so (notified from 5th March 2004). Even this amendment is questionable.

Why at all the entire amount should go the CWF, when an individual organisation is taking up the issue? Why not give a part of the penalty thus collected to the concerned organisation/litigant, so that it will enthuse more and more to take up such issues affecting the consumers. But the government wants to control all the funds so that it can make the consumer organisations dance as per its tunes.

Anyhow, in respect of 14(1)(d) and 14(1)(i), there are no enabling provisions (guidelines) in the Rules and hence I expected the Supreme Court to lay down the broad principles for the award under these provisions of the Act.

Hence, in my opinion, a rational decision of the Supreme Court would have literally paved the way for the elimination of Unfair Trade Practices (UTPs). A golden opportunity was missed, at least for the time being, thanks to the indifference of the Supreme Court.

REPLY

Vinay Joshi

In Reply to Vaidyanathan 6 years ago

Hello Mr.B Vaidynathan,

It's pertinent enough to strengthen the consumer movement.

MRTP, MRTPC, DG[I] now substituted by CCI & segregated CPA.

Certain extracts of my mail to Sucheta, i'll forward it to you to your mail ID.

Anyway as of now in SC, no review or curative being off the ambit can be filed.

I'll fwd my mail, pl scan the petition & the order to me in the instant matter.

The petition in SC, negated should not be a wrong precedent.
But if justifiable, SC right in its own right as per the order.

Regards,

Vaidyanathan

In Reply to Vinay Joshi 6 years ago

Appeal for Review was filed in the Supreme Court, within the period of limitation and the same was dismissed on 12th Feb. 2012 and hence I started utilising the media including Moneylife, to inform one and all about this case and the shoddy treatment meted out by the apex court.

The Grounds for Review can be accessed at http://www.advantageconsumer.com/Grounds....

Since, I am fully convinced that justice has been denied to the consumers and the consumer movement, I have also written about this matter to the Chief Justice of India, on 20th Feb. This communication is available at http://www.advantageconsumer.com/Appeal-....

As a matter of fact since we believe that 'Knowledge is Strength', we have been making available all relevant information pertaining to this case as well as other material in the public domain through our website http://www.advantageconsumer.com.

I am in full agreement with what you have mentioned that the order of the SC should not set a wrong precedent and hence all this effort to reach out.

We are contemplating to file a Curative Petiton as well. But for that I am on the look out for a designated 'Senior Advocate' of standing and who is willing to do the certification, on honorary basis.

Regards,
-Vaidya

Vaidyanathan

In Reply to Vaidyanathan 6 years ago

A minor correction in the above reply. 12th Feb. 2012 may please be read as 12th Feb. 2013.

drsharmilaraopn

6 years ago

We create a public hearing like france did during the revolution.

Vinay Joshi

6 years ago

Dear Mr. B.Vaidyanathan,

I'll write again to you, for want of time, i would only emphasize on pressure control valves.

What was the make? If determined by you?

Regards,

REPLY

Vaidyanathan

In Reply to Vinay Joshi 6 years ago

I am unable to understand your query or the suggestion. If you will elaborate, may be I will be able to answer. - Vaidya

Vinay Joshi

In Reply to Vaidyanathan 6 years ago

Dear Mr. B.Vaidyanathan,

In the first place kindly excuse my belated reply that too not answering you in detail.

About pressure control valves of the carousel, if not of standard quality it will throw back the gas filled, thereby less quantity.

It happens in volumetric filling systems.

I'll come back to you in detail on the tech aspects which were overlooked by the OMC's.
You've rightly highlighted it.

Regards,

Vaidyanathan

In Reply to Vinay Joshi 6 years ago

Mr. Joshi,

What you have pointed out could be the main issue in automated filling units wherein the human interface with filling the refill is almost eliminated.

But the major issue in the outdated semi-automated process depnds too much on the operator. As you are aware when 24 refills in the cirular machine are to be filled in a minute or so, the operator hardly gets 2.5 sec. for reading the tare weight from the empty refill (by looking down), which at times may not be legible,then look up and adjust the knob for tare weight neutralisation. This cumbersome process will bring in fatigue to the operator within a very short time. You can refer to Report of the Committe set up by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which is available at http://www.advantageconsumer.com/gnlcr.h....

So during my visit to the Balasore LPG Bottling Plant, I could understand this stark reality in no time. I only wonder how the IOC people, many of whom are from elite institutions like the IIT could not understand this. May be, they were not keen to address the issue.

Regards,
-Vaidya

LIC fined Rs1 lakh for denying claim arbitrarily

The New Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum observed that LIC had “misdirected itself” by not showing any evidence that the deceased was suffering from asthma prior to availing the policy and had not “applied its mind” while denying his claim

Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has been directed by a Delhi based consumer forum to pay Rs1 lakh to the husband of a policyholder for ‘arbitrarily’ rejecting his claim for the assured amount on his wife’s death.

 

The New Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum observed that LIC had “misdirected itself” by not showing any evidence that the deceased was suffering from asthma prior to availing the policy and had not “applied its mind” while denying his claim. LIC had denied the claim saying the woman was an asthma patient and had not disclosed her illness while taking the policy.

 

It had relied on a discharge summary of 2004 to reject the claim.

 

“We have considered the material on record and submission made. It is patent that the opposite party (LIC) has misdirected itself. It has not brought any evidence of deceased suffering from asthma before taking of policy in 2003 or any record of taking treatment.

 

“The discharge summary of 2004 is of no use. It shows trouble for 4-5 days in 2004 and not before taking policy in 2003. Opposite party has not applied its mind. We hold it guilty of deficiency in service by arbitrarily repudiating the claim,” a bench presided by CK Chaturvedi said.

 

It directed LIC to pay the sum insured of Rs50,000 along with “punitive damages” of Rs50,000 to Delhi resident Dev Raj whose wife had died in December 2005. The forum also directed LIC to obtain half of the damages from salary of the officer concerned “who gave no attention to the appeal and agreed for repudiating the claim”.

 

Raj, in his complaint, had said that his wife had obtained the policy for Rs50,000 from LIC in 2003 and under it she was covered till 2005, but the insurance firm had rejected his claim on the ground that she was an asthma patient.

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COMMENTS

M.R.KRISHNAN

10 months ago

This PRE EXISTING CONDITION is the VILLAIN. It should be removed, or a comprehensive MEDICAL CHECK UP must be made COMPULSORY, before accepting the proposal.

Ubaldo C DSouza

6 years ago

The personnel of the insurance sector generally, and the public-sector insurance companies specifically, are mentally conditioned to deny claims as a knee-jerk reaction. In my case they denied I ever had the cause under a Varishta policy while the same branch processed and paid for treatment of the same cause under a Mediclaim policy. Studying a claim is far from their training and competence.

S BHASKARA NARAYANA

6 years ago

20 years back, when I revealed frankly my health history, as against the wish of the agent, who used to tick everything positively, I was denied issue of policy by the LIC and also SBI Life.

Consumer rights: Time to think and act ‘jara hatke’?

Why the consumers are taken for a ride, while buying goods and services from the public, private and government institutions? Why the Consumer Protection Act has failed to usher in the much expected consumer revolution? What we can do to bring about real reforms

Celebrating World Consumer Day (WCD) on 15th March has become a ritual like celebrating most other such days like environmental, cancer, safety, mothers, children days, etc. Instead can we celebrate this WCD differently? Can each of us reflect on how consumers suffer, irrespective of their being rich or poor, urban or rural, literate or illiterate? Why are consumers taken for a ride, while buying goods and services from public, private and government institutions? Why has the Consumer Protection Act failed to usher in the much expected consumer revolution? Finally, what can we do to bring about real reform?

 

Instead of consumer activists organizing WCD celebrations, government agencies should organize them in a ritualistic way. They are the real cause of much of the woes of consumers. This year, like in previous years, deputy commissioners have been ordered to organize WCD to highlight problems that consumers face as a result of rampant food adulteration and various ways of fraudulent weighing of goods. No doubt food adulteration is a serious problem. But are these the issues to be taken up to usher in consumer revolution or promote consumer protection?

 

It is always easy to blame the government. But in a democracy where we, the people are ultimate rulers, we need to introspect on what has been our role? Why have we abdicated our responsibilities? Have we put pressure on the government not to squander taxpayers’ money by organizing ritualistic functions which do not produce results? Why are consumer activists not organizing WCD? Often, they gladly participate in such celebrations with government officials in order to curry favour. 

 

WCD is a time for serious thinking to bring about much needed reforms to make “Consumer the King”. We need “out of the box” thinking. All our earlier efforts have failed to get results. Despite the adoption of new laws and new initiatives by the government, consumers’ woes are increasing by the day. Before we discuss a new paradigm it may be useful to list some major consumer problems.

 

Even before the LPG quota to limit the number of cylinders one can buy at a subsidized price, it has never been an easy to replenish the LPG supply. Now securing LPG has become a nightmare. Should consumers suffer to procure simple daily cooking needs? Why can we not develop a more streamlined approach of distributing LPG, while meeting the urgent need of supplying LPG at a subsidized price to those, who are below the poverty line? In order to reduce diversion of subsidized LPG, the government has made the system even worse and more prone to corruption. Despite hundreds of studies, woes of consumers in securing rationed items under PDS are ever present. 

 

Energy regulatory commissions were established to improve power supply by streamlining the tariff setting process. The underlying principle was to reduce political interference and improve efficiency. This was done by appointing an independent regulatory body and by monitoring the operations of monopolies. However, we have not seen the expected results and the power crisis is only worsening.

 

The water supply problem is getting worse by the day even in places where people live close to water sources. There is not a single city in India where water is available on a 24x7 basis every day. Why? Politicians make long promises to improve water supply. Since water is a basic need, they promise to give water free or at highly subsidized price. But the reality is much different. Not only does the public not get adequate water supply, but also, in some places, they have to pay an exorbitant price. When will we start agitating for proper water supply? What can be more important than water?

 

A recent report by Pratham (a Mumbai-based NGO providing primary education to underprivileged children) has showed how our children are getting poor education in both the government and private schools. In fact our education sector from pre-schooling to university has collapsed. Less than 15% to 20% of the graduates produced by our education system are employable. On paper our literacy rate is climbing. But it is climbing at a rate based on a simple criterion of being able to sign. Do we need any more statistics to prove that we, the public, are short-changed by our educational institutions?

 

Health delivery system especially to the poor is also deteriorating, as some Indian cities are trying to promote health tourism to attract foreign patients. When we have the ultra-modern hospitals to meet the needs of the rich, government hospitals and even most of the private hospitals are failing in their duty to take care of the patients. Regularly the government is coming up with new schemes to help the poor with improved health delivery system. Unfortunately, their impact is minimal. Even some of the poor African countries have better child and maternal mortality statistics.

 

Citizen’s charter complemented by Right to Information was supposed to help the public when seeking services at government offices. Have they? Has it reduced corruption? While we talk of strengthening laws concerning Lok Ayukta and adapting a Lokpal Bill, the ground realities are that without bribing it is impossible to get any timely service at government offices. It looks as though our society has given up the effort to fight corruption, though at the national level it has been on the front burner for some time.

 

Since, it is a well known and accepted fact that the consumer is at the receiving end, while buying goods and services from the private companies, the above list deals only with the services provided by the government. Where should the consumer movement start to help the consumers?

 

We do not need any more laws and regulations. What we need is better governance at every level and heightened awareness among the public that in a democracy we are the rulers. How many of us will relate the need to elect honest and competent candidates with the consumer movement? It is only by electing the right candidates can we improve governance. Only when governance improves can we hope for a beginning of the end of consumer woes and the possibility of a real consumer movement.

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COMMENTS

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

6 years ago

When a consumer goes in for purchase he is under the impression that Weights & Measurement Dept., plus Food Dept might be doing there job properly, are they really doing their job properly as per Act? In the interests of the consumers or it is otherwise, SEE THE MESS IN EPF DEPT hard to comprehend, the corruption in the Dept. is mind boggling.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

6 years ago

There is an article in DNA regarding HUL's low growth, why is it so, if consumer do stand up properly, we will see growth like this around us, if the Co'. is running properly then will have a really good run and if skimming the consumers might face a topsy turvey future. http://epaper.dnaindia.com/epapermain.as...

AVINASH PRABHUNE

6 years ago

The following matter was published in TOI Nagpur on 18 August 2012. NAGPUR:
Maharashtra Government has handed over the additional charge of Nagpur District Consumer Forum to Bhandara Consumer Forum President RD Kundle. Kundle will now be dividing his time managing both the offices. Expectedly, these forums will now be available only for 15 days, that too for half day at each forum, resulting in increasing number of pending cases.
According to RTI activist Avinash Prabhune, instead of appointing a new person on the vacant post, the government had given a temporary charge. He informed that the president post of Nagpur District Consumer Forum was lying vacant since last two years. Former president of additional forum Vijaysingh Rane was holding the charge of both the forums, which were functioning for half a week only. But after his retirement in July this year, situation has gone from bad to worse as both the forums were running without a president.
The consumer forums have been constituted with a view to give quick justice to the customers who are fleeced by the companies or shopkeepers. But, the vacant posts, especially of the judges, are making the matters worse for the customers, as pendency of cases is increasing everyday. Thanks to the lethargy of Maharashtra Government in making appointments on this vital posts.
Citing documents obtained by RTI activist Avinash Prabhune, TOI had reported that president post of Nagpur District Consumer Forum was lying vacant since last two years. Former president of additional forum Vijaysingh Rane was holding the charge of both the forums, which were functioning for half a week only. But after his retirement in July this year, situation has gone from bad to worse as both the forums were running without a president.
According to Prabhune, instead of appointing a new person, the government had given a temporary charge to the Bhandara District Consumer Forum president RD Kundle who will now be dividing his time managing both the offices. Expectedly, these forums will now be available only for 15 days, that too for half day at each forum, resulting in piling of pending cases.
"As the pendency is increasing, it's the customers who are suffering. All the newly appointed judges are visiting ones and it is impossible to run the forums without any permanent member," Prabhune pointed out.
Citing examples, the RTI activist stated that about 2,300 cases were filed in last two years before the district forum whereas only 350 cases were filed during same period in additional district forum. "These two forums should be merged to ensure full day working of one forum as their separate existence was resulting in unnecessary expenditure," he suggested, adding that approximately Rs36 lakh were lost due to vacant posts. He further informed that Maharashtra was having 40 district forums of which eight were without presidents while posts of 23 members were vacant.
Prabhune further stated that due to large number of holidays coupled with weekly offs, the working of forums was affected. "As per Consumer Protection Act, 1986, a minimum of two authorities can conduct the proceedings. A forum is supposed to have three members but these posts are never filled up. In case a single member is absent, the proceedings are adjourned for the day," he lamented.
Blaming the bureaucracy for being casual in implementing Supreme Court orders regarding the Consumer Protection Act, he said from the treatment meted out to important city like Nagpur, one can well imagine the situation at other district forums in the state.

TODAY as on 24/03/2013, situation has not changed much.
Incidentally Hon cabinet Minister is also from the Nagpur city therefore, I request Hon Sh Anil Deshmukh, Hon Minister of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, to conduct enquiry & take necessary actions on the responsible for such failure in timely appointments & such huge delay in appointments. His department has a twin responsibility to, Implement the Public Distribution System. Promoting & protecting the rights of consumers by implementing Acts and Rules
But kindly see our adamant bureaucracy & after about Six months of publishing following Matter, situation is not changed much. Now One President Hon Shri A.S.Kaloti & One Member Hon Sh S G Deshmukh has been appointed for Nagpur Dist Consumer Forum but they have work first half day for Nagpur Dist Consmer Forum & Second half for Addl Nagpur Dist Consumer Forum. Thus Nagpur Dist Consumer Forum is available for Consumers for half day. Just think, whom to blame for such scenario. It is felt that unless
Hon Supreme court has observed regarding ‘The Consumer Protection Act 1986’ as under:-
‘The Act meets long felt necessity of protecting the common man from such wrongs for which the remedy under the ordinary law for various reasons has become illusory. The Act has to be construed in favour of the consumer to achieve the purpose of enactment as it is a social benefit oriented legislation.’
But it appears that bureaucracy is very casual about implementing the provisions of the Act in true spirit & minimizing the hardship of Consumers. It also appears that lethargic thick skinned fearless administration is putting burden on the common man ignoring the Hon Supreme court observations
avinash prabhune

AVINASH PRABHUNE

6 years ago

The following matter was published in TOI Nagpur on 18 August 2012. NAGPUR:
Maharashtra Government has handed over the additional charge of Nagpur District Consumer Forum to Bhandara Consumer Forum President RD Kundle. Kundle will now be dividing his time managing both the offices. Expectedly, these forums will now be available only for 15 days, that too for half day at each forum, resulting in increasing number of pending cases.
According to RTI activist Avinash Prabhune, instead of appointing a new person on the vacant post, the government had given a temporary charge. He informed that the president post of Nagpur District Consumer Forum was lying vacant since last two years. Former president of additional forum Vijaysingh Rane was holding the charge of both the forums, which were functioning for half a week only. But after his retirement in July this year, situation has gone from bad to worse as both the forums were running without a president.
The consumer forums have been constituted with a view to give quick justice to the customers who are fleeced by the companies or shopkeepers. But, the vacant posts, especially of the judges, are making the matters worse for the customers, as pendency of cases is increasing everyday. Thanks to the lethargy of Maharashtra Government in making appointments on this vital posts.
Citing documents obtained by RTI activist Avinash Prabhune, TOI had reported that president post of Nagpur District Consumer Forum was lying vacant since last two years. Former president of additional forum Vijaysingh Rane was holding the charge of both the forums, which were functioning for half a week only. But after his retirement in July this year, situation has gone from bad to worse as both the forums were running without a president.
According to Prabhune, instead of appointing a new person, the government had given a temporary charge to the Bhandara District Consumer Forum president RD Kundle who will now be dividing his time managing both the offices. Expectedly, these forums will now be available only for 15 days, that too for half day at each forum, resulting in piling of pending cases.
"As the pendency is increasing, it's the customers who are suffering. All the newly appointed judges are visiting ones and it is impossible to run the forums without any permanent member," Prabhune pointed out.
Citing examples, the RTI activist stated that about 2,300 cases were filed in last two years before the district forum whereas only 350 cases were filed during same period in additional district forum. "These two forums should be merged to ensure full day working of one forum as their separate existence was resulting in unnecessary expenditure," he suggested, adding that approximately Rs36 lakh were lost due to vacant posts. He further informed that Maharashtra was having 40 district forums of which eight were without presidents while posts of 23 members were vacant.
Prabhune further stated that due to large number of holidays coupled with weekly offs, the working of forums was affected. "As per Consumer Protection Act, 1986, a minimum of two authorities can conduct the proceedings. A forum is supposed to have three members but these posts are never filled up. In case a single member is absent, the proceedings are adjourned for the day," he lamented.
Blaming the bureaucracy for being casual in implementing Supreme Court orders regarding the Consumer Protection Act, he said from the treatment meted out to important city like Nagpur, one can well imagine the situation at other district forums in the state.

TODAY as on 24/03/2013, situation has not changed much.
Incidentally Hon cabinet Minister is also from the Nagpur city therefore, I request Hon Sh Anil Deshmukh, Hon Minister of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, to conduct enquiry & take necessary actions on the responsible for such failure in timely appointments & such huge delay in appointments. His department has a twin responsibility to, Implement the Public Distribution System. Promoting & protecting the rights of consumers by implementing Acts and Rules
But kindly see our adamant bureaucracy & after about Six months of publishing following Matter, situation is not changed much. Now One President Hon Shri A.S.Kaloti & One Member Hon Sh S G Deshmukh has been appointed for Nagpur Dist Consumer Forum but they have work first half day for Nagpur Dist Consmer Forum & Second half for Addl Nagpur Dist Consumer Forum. Thus Nagpur Dist Consumer Forum is available for Consumers for half day. Just think, whom to blame for such scenario. It is felt that unless
Hon Supreme court has observed regarding ‘The Consumer Protection Act 1986’ as under:-
‘The Act meets long felt necessity of protecting the common man from such wrongs for which the remedy under the ordinary law for various reasons has become illusory. The Act has to be construed in favour of the consumer to achieve the purpose of enactment as it is a social benefit oriented legislation.’
But it appears that bureaucracy is very casual about implementing the provisions of the Act in true spirit & minimizing the hardship of Consumers. It also appears that lethargic thick skinned fearless administration is putting burden on the common man ignoring the Hon Supreme court observations
avinash prabhune

Bhamy Shenoy

6 years ago

It is more than four days since the publication of this article and also the celebrations of World Consumer Day. Why is there so few comments on the sorry state of affairs.

I would have expected even more comments after seeing the comment by Arun Saxena on the dismal state of affairs at his consumer court. A political party is able to get (by fair or unfair means) thousands to protest against any justifiable or unjustifiable cause at the drop of a hat. Can we even imagine getting even hundreds to protest against the endless adjournments and denying of justice at Consumer Courts? In fact when Mysore Grahakara Parishat organized such an event, we could not get even 30 to particiipate.

I have been trying to find out how world consumer day was celebrated in different parts of India through the web. I come across so few articles. One article came across about Udupi celebration proves the point I made in my article. They were talking even after so many years of the movement about consumer rights. One would have expected that the consumer movement has come a long way to demand more urgent things.

Bhamy V Shenoy, Convener, Mysore Grahakara Parishat

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

6 years ago

We Indians are very slow or lethargic in taking up issues only
West Bengal has firebrands and I feel what is happening today will be set right only through revolution. Which will happen ultimately-do not know when in our life time or afterwards.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

6 years ago

Which consumer rights are being talked today? It is might is right

Boodugere Nagaraj

6 years ago

It is high time "Consumer resistence movement" started in India {similar to salt sathyagrah by Mahatma Gandhi) All the consumers shoud totally boycott price raise, of particular essential commodity Eg. Nobody should buy milk for 2 days including Hotels etc. All Milk booths should close. Payment should not be made to dairy owners. The Co-operative movement is being misused in India. Exploitation of Consumers should stop !!

REPLY

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to Boodugere Nagaraj 6 years ago

will anybody listen to all this

arun

6 years ago

Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane Consumer Courts are a different lot. They have their own terms for filing consumer complaint that is different from rest of the country. They go out of their way to make things difficult for the consumer so that they get discouraged and never return back to file their consumer complaint again.

The consumer courts in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane previously had an attempted to hamper easy filing of cases by implying Marathi as main language for filing cases, and all working in Marathi only. But that was soon abolished and so now they found a novel way of causing hinderance by implying 45 point check list for filing consumer complaint.

Even if a consumer passes the 45 point check list stage, he has to face the judge at the time of admission hearing where the judge will point out that the paragraph is not right, margin is not OK, line spacing should be double space, sentence is not in favout of you, etc. No focus will be given to what is the case and how fast the court will give judgement. 50% of the court's time is wasted in how to make papers and how it has to be designed.

I receive at least 2 complaints every day against the consumer courts from those consumers who visited the consumer court to file their complaint and had to run from pillar to post as every time some mistake or other is pointed out by the clerk and the consumer has to return back home to rectify and bring it back to the court for submission. The fun is that not all mistakes are pointed at one time and they are cunningly distributed in a manner to make the consumer have maximum rounds as possible.

There is no enacted rule or act that certifies the use of 45 point check list that the consumer courts in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane imply. Hence, it is illegal, anti national and works against the consumers and defeats the very purpose of the consumer court.

Consumer courts were established to help the economically weak consumers to get speedier justice. Rest of the country accepts consumer complaints in a friendly and sympathetic manner through a simple format, except the consumer courts in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane.

Happy World Consumers Day !

Should the consumers in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane celebrate or distress?

Regards
Arun Saxena
President
Intl. Consumer Rights Protection Council
http://www.consumergrievance.com

S BHASKARA NARAYANA

6 years ago

Every consumer plays the dual role of consumer at one end and service provider at other end. When he expects his rights as a consumer, he denies his duties at other end, which is a human nature. If the Authority pulls both the ends to strike a balance between rights and duties, the people in Democracy feel it as if they were pushed into "Emergency days".

REPLY

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to S BHASKARA NARAYANA 6 years ago

That is the problem when he gets unlawful things he doesn't mind and vice versa

Vaibhav Dhoka

6 years ago

The Consumer Forums are quasi judicial and has miserably failed to deliver.In our country JUSTICE delivery system has failed in all aspect.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

6 years ago

CONSUMER IS A FOOL in the eyes of FMCG Co's they have made a mockery of WEIGHTS AND MEASUREMENT DEPT., SEE what weight is being given on goods, CAN BE SEEN BY ANYONE, they are reducing the weight as well as increasing the PRICES, actually consumers are taken for a ride, ki kuch nahi kahage, and doing everything/anything as per their will.

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