Navi Mumbai Consumer Forum settles only eight complaints a year
Consumer Forums in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai are the worst in India, while the District Consumer Court in Chandigarh is the best, finds a consumer activist
 
The basic aim of consumer court is to “help the poor and needy with economical and speedy justice”. But in reality the opposite is true. The consumer courts are out there to find faults with the submissions and reject the complaints at small instances so as to reduce the workload. This is very cleverly done as teamwork of all the staff. This means if you try to complain to higher level in the same office, nothing will happen, as the higher staff hearing you is also the member of their team! A reply received under Right to Information (RTI) revealed that the Thane Additional Consumer Disputed Redressal Forum at Belapur in Navi Mumbai rejects 33.42% complaints at the admission stage. 
 
With my experience of 25 years with the various consumer courts in India, I have come to the conclusion that Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai consumer courts are the worst in India while the District Consumer Court in Chandigarh is the best. Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai consumer courts make different rules that suites themselves, violating the very purpose for which the consumer courts have been established, and also violating all the defined laws set up for accepting the complaints.
 
Few years ago the district consumer forums in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai wanted the case papers to be written in Marathi with translation in English, just to harass the consumers so that the consumer do not file complaints due to difficulty and expenses and shy away from the court. When this was opposed by the consumer activists new rules were made, which were more foolish….like keep a defined margin, defined spacing, defined format, and making pages in a certain sequence. If any little deviation, the consumer court had a good reason to dismiss the complaint or reject the case papers. Later the activists also opposed this and the consumer courts had to sheepishly withdraw this nuisance. 
 
The Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai consumer courts are run by bunch of corrupt jokers who do not know that there is no prescribed format for filing a consumer complaint in the district consumer disputes redressal forum and a simple application is accepted by all the courts all over India. But these courts in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai do their best to harass and make things difficult for the consumers.
 
Now do you want to know how efficient the consumer courts of Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai are? Let me give you just one example of the Thane Additional Consumer Disputed Redressal Form at Belapur, Navi Mumbai.  In the last 6 years, from the year 2010 till November 2015 the Navi Mumbai Consumer Court received 1,290 complaints out of which it allowed only 859 complaints and decided only 48 complaints. That means the consumer forum is deciding only 8 cases per year.
 
District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Belapur, Navi Mumbai facts:
 
  1. Received 1,290 complaints from 2010 till November 2015 (six years).
  2. It allowed only 859 complaints out of 1,290 complaints. That means only 66.58 % of complaints were allowed and 33.42% were not even accepted.
  3. Out of 859 allowed complaints, it dismissed 240 complaints, that is, 27.93 % complaints were rejected. 
  4. Out of 859 complaints, it settled 48 complaints, which is only, 5.58% complaints in six years. It shows that only 3.7% complaints are settled per year of the total received.
  5. Out of eight settled cases, how many were in favour of consumer, the court never discloses.
 
(The data was collected by RTI query)
 
Looking at the operation cost of the consumer forums with the infrastructure and salaries of the staff you can imagine what will be the cost for settling one complaint. It will run to many lakhs. Is it worth settling one complaint for so many lakh of rupees? 
 
The cost incurred by the court to settle the complaint is many hundred times more than the relief amount claimed by the consumer.
 
We need to question the President of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission who is responsible for running the consumer forum and is directly liable for causing losses to the government and causing harassment to the consumers. Such people should be arrested and tried in court so that others in the line also learn a good lesson.
 
It means that Consumer Court is also a scam where the staff is enjoying all government benefits and giving just an output of 8 settlements every year. Now out of these eight settlements how many are in the favour of the consumer and how many against the consumer, the consumer forum has to disclose.
  
 
(Arun Saxena is President of International Consumer Rights Protection Council. www.consumergrievance.com)
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    COMMENTS

    harsh raut

    4 years ago

    Highly objectionable , The president and top brass of the consumer court should quickly do a introspection and understand their own existence and work towards improving the overall Society framework.Else soon they would be questioned not only by the consumers but even their family's for whom they are working not so hard! Request the senior court member's responsible to initiate an inquiry immediately with sharing of minimum Case SLAs and monitoring successful outcomes for consumer's!
    Best Regards
    Harshvardhan Raut

    manoharlalsharma

    5 years ago

    all government agencies whether it is State/Central including HC doing the job as their wish not to serve CITIZENS who pays from his hard arming we only elect the governments sheltering these under valued employees.

    Simple Indian

    5 years ago

    In this day n age, where technology helps speed up things with 'smart working', it's a pity we have to follow age-old procedures like this. I hope under PM Modi's Digital India push, even Consumer Forums are digitized and enable consumers file complaints online. Rules and procedures are meant to facilitate the consumers' lodging complaints, not to shoo them away. While there's rampant corruption in lower judiciary, it's only natural that quasi-judicial bodies like the Consumer Forums are following in the same direction. Mera Bharat Mahaan !

    REPLY

    Meenal Mamdani

    In Reply to Simple Indian 5 years ago

    I heartily second your suggestion to file complaints online.

    If igaveabribe.org accepts complaints online and now CM Phadnavis is making filing a FIR more digital friendly, the Consumer Courts should be the first to follow this trend of empowering the common man.

    If they do not take it up promptly, then the consumers should start an online petition on Awaaz.org and present the signatures to the higher judiciary which is supposed to maintain an oversight on the Consumer Courts.

    Simple Indian

    5 years ago

    Apart from the administrative hassles mentioned in the article, I am told the Forums in Mumbai-Thane-Navi Mumbai also ask consumers to engage lawyers to represent their case, something not mandated in the Consumer Protection Act. Wish our High Court of Bombay would take suo motu action against such 'rogue' Forums, as their actions defeat the very purpose of the laws framed for protecting consumers' rights. Maybe a PIL in the HC could help improve things.

    Yogesh

    5 years ago

    Additionally asked me to go the lawyer to represent the case.

    REPLY

    Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

    In Reply to Yogesh 5 years ago

    I have already commented on it. Consumer Court is controlled by so called "Consumer Court Advocates' Association".
    As in other Courts, here Consumer Court Bar Association is not possible, since Consumer Court law encourages the consumer to represent their complaints themselves, in plain language with bills and payment details.

    Yogesh

    5 years ago

    The study about Navi mumbai consumer court is true. I am the witness to that. I was 4-5 times denied by the officers to register a case against deficient service. The officer wanted to write in a particular manner, no word less of more, in prescribed format which has to be typed on legal paper which only one typing institute can write/know. After registering case after 4-5 attempt , finaly I came to know that , that time court is not there , i mean all jury members were not present. after 6 months all the jury memebers were present, then case started. Then jury told me to rewrite the complaint again. By this time I lost interest. left it.

    REPLY

    Vaibhav Dhoka

    In Reply to Yogesh 5 years ago

    shameful proposition to consumer.

    Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

    5 years ago

    There is Consumer Court Advocates' Assoclation in Mumbai, Thane & Navi Mumbai. This association from time to time suggests and prevail upon Consumer Courts in this area, to accept the consumer complaints in a particular formet. It is openly displayed at all the Consumer Courts, to give the consumer complaint in a particular manner, which is more or less, the format of normal court.
    Even though Consumer Courts were barred from appearance of an advocates, when they were initially formed, at later dates advocates were allowed. In Mumbai, Thane & Navi Mumbai Consumer Courts, due to interference of so called Consumer Court Advocates' Association, consumer complaints are rejected, so that aggrieved consumers fall pray to this Consumer Court Advocates' lobby.

    REPLY

    Vaibhav Dhoka

    In Reply to Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag 5 years ago

    How can superior court allow quasi judicial bodies to engage in corrupt practice.

    MOHAN SIROYA

    5 years ago

    At the outset, let us congrats the veteran activist Arun Saxena for collecting an information for this article which is indeed an eye e. However, the following statements need bak up statistics as given in case of Belapur Navi Mumbai Consumer Forum.
    1. How one can know that Consumer Forums in Mumbai and Thane are also sililar?
    2. How Forum at Chandigarh can be called BEST in disposal rate as no statistics are revealed ?
    3 What is the Bench mark to take a Forum decision in "Favor" or "Against" the Consumer ? In normal parlance as no complainant gets the full demanded reliefs, it can be construed that even upholding a complaint in part is in "Favor".
    If this is so, analysis the author serves as an answer when it is mentioned that 240 complaints were rejected or dismissed amounting to 27.93% ofhe totalcomplaints disposed.
    4. Lastly Can some one also enlighten as to on what ground the PIO can deny giving information on decisions of favorable or non-favourable orders of the Forum, if such a query under RTI was made ?

    Deepak

    5 years ago

    Consumer Forums are useless. I had lodged complain in Maharashtra State Consumer Forum against builder for late possession of my Flat(6 years!) & levying escalation charges on me & i had to pay rent from my pocket during this period. My case went on for more that one & half year & out of frustration i had to settle out of court with the builder as per his terms in order to get possession & paid as per his demand. This was the only court case in my life & i realised judiciary is of no use for common man like me.

    Meenal Mamdani

    5 years ago

    Mr. Saxena has done a great service to all consumers by this article.

    Proving the consumer court decisions malafide would be very hard. It may be better to shame the staff of the consumer court by giving wide publicity to the judgments, with names of the staff involved in the case, including the judge. Citizens could organize protests at the court to draw attention to this sorry state of affairs.

    Finally a complaint to the Bombay High Court highlighting these statistics could put the consumer court staff on notice that they are under scrutiny and may shape up their behavior.

    Prakash Sheth

    5 years ago

    Mr Saxena, there is quite a degree of truth in your anguished article. But I would suggest you to please use respectful language while referring to the President/member of a CDRF as they are constitutionally created posts, and can land you in more trouble. I would like to add to your comments by saying that the judges/members at a CDRF are, most probably by their mind-sets or by the atmosphere they have worked in, more often than none, pro-OPs, and miserably fail to realise the pain/injustice suffered by the consumer who spends his time/money/energy to approach a CDRF. The costs they grant to a successful consumer at the end of a long drawn and tiring trial, are chicken feed and are much far away from practical reality, although supreme court has in Salem Bar Advocates Association case laid down very clearly that costs must be granted and that too, realistic costs and not just symbolical or superficial costs.

    REPLY

    Babubhai Vaghela

    In Reply to Prakash Sheth 5 years ago

    http://daily.bhaskar.com/news/pil-agains...
    PIL - 8 of 16 CJIs Corrupt - Kept Pending by the Next 6 Chief Justices of India. Upper Castes Males Dominated Higher Judiciary - Sovereign Authority of India - is Bloody Corrupt.

    Babubhai Vaghela

    In Reply to Prakash Sheth 5 years ago

    Online babu-bashing no crime, SC says

    Amit Choudhary | TNN | Jan 22, 2015, 04.40 AM IST

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/...

    Arman Oza

    5 years ago

    This is not just about reducing the workload, as you have suggested. A much effective way of reducing workload would have been awarding of punitive or exemplary damages in cases where blatant deficiency in service is found. This would have served as a credible deterrent for unscrupulous service providers and resulted in less number of complaints arising. But as you know the consumer courts have chosen to be kind enough on service providers by not pronouncing such awards. So it is not about workload but it is who do you want to oblige.

    REPLY

    Prakash Sheth

    In Reply to Arman Oza 5 years ago

    I agree Mr Oza. I know of a case before South Mumbai CDRF, where the DF over-enthusiastically awarded incredible amounts to the complainant by way of costs, compensation and harrassment, because the complainant was the Additional Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai, and still is. There is also one more glaring irregularity going on in DFs and SCs. A currently sitting member in Mah.State Commission filed complaint before South Mumbai Forum against an airline, which was bound to be allowed with heavy costs. The complainant's advocate and the firm to where he belonged, regularly appear before the same sitting member in the Mah.State Commission. Will the said member not oblige the South Mumbai Forum, when an appeal against SMF order is placed before him? Will the said member not oblige the said advocate and his firm, when they appear before him?

    Vaibhav Dhoka

    5 years ago

    One is surprised how high court or Supreme court overlook such on goings in consumer forums mentioned.In fact most quasi judicial forums enjoy at cost of taxpayers money post retirement.They must be made answerable or government should constitute inquiry and impound perks for failure to do duty.

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