Panel reviews loopholes in consumer forums

Cuttack: After the Supreme Court issued an order aksing the Union Consumer affairs ministry to look into infrastructural deficiencies of consumer dispute redressal forums, a panel constituted for the purpose today met the Consumer Affairs secretary, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and concerned officials in Odisha today.

The chief of the panel, former Supreme Court judge Justice Arijit Pasayat said “There are certain deficiencies related to infrastructure and staff strength due to which the consumer redressal forums are unable to function properly. Here in Odisha, we obeserved that there are certain areas which need immediate action. There are many district forums which lack a chairman and members. As a result, they are not able to function properly. It was revealed during the discussion that the State government had advertised for filling up 34 vacant positions and interviews for the same are scheduled to be conducted in March. We have asked the concerned authorities to fill up the posts as soon as possible and given them a timeline within which the posts have to be filled up.”

“Moreover, the Supreme Court has sought information on nine different points on which we have asked the Consumer secretary and the State commission to submit a report including their explanation and views on the same. We have asked the authorities to present their views on these points in the context of the district forums. We have also sought information on some other points,” Justice Pasayat added

President of the Odisha Consumer Court Bar Association, Karunakar Jena said after the meeting, “We highlighted the negligence on the part of the State government in ensuring adequate infrastructure for these redressal forums. We had earlier approached the Chief Justice of Supreme Court, the State Commission and the Governor. Hearing our plea, the Chief Justice had ordered the union Consumer Affairs ministry to look into the deficiencies of the consumer redressal forums all over India. The committee constituted for the same will submit its report to the Supreme Court, which will take up the case for hearing on April 28. Moreover, the committee will also submit its recommendations to address the deficiencies plaguing the consumer redressal forums. Today’s meeting was the committee’s first across India and the discussions were fruitful.”