Established in 1988, the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission’s sole purpose was protecting the rights and interests of consumers. Under the Consumer Protection Act, the NCDRC stands at the top of the three-tier redressal mechanism, above the District Commission and the State Commission..Where? .Situated close to the INA Metro Station in Delhi, the NCDRC stands tall among a flock of other illustrious government buildings in the complex such as the Central Vigilance Commission, Archaeological Survey of India and the National Human Rights Commission..The Commission is easy to find, with an underground parking facility. Parking is also available in the vast open space, though that gets filled up quickly post 10 am..Jurisdiction.– Complaints involving a sum greater than Rs. 1 Crore.– Appeals against the orders of any State Commission.– Also has power of review, power to transfer from one District Forum to the other or from one State Commission to another State Commission.Disposal Rate.The true benchmark for determining the effective functioning of any tribunal lies in examining the percentage of pendency of disputes and rate of disposal..The NCDRC scores big when it comes to this aspect, boasting of an 89% rate of disposal of matters..Here are some important numbers:-.Filed in May ’15Disposed in May’ 15Total filedTotal DisposedPending as of May’ 15Original Petitions 14258 7,622 5,658 1,964First Appeals 95 8515,742 13,487 2,255Revision Petitions 226 618 70,881 65,209 5672Appeal Executi-ons 0 1 49 38 11Executi-on Revision Petitions 0 16 106 67 39Transfer Applicat-ions 3 2 980 975 5Total 46678095,38085,4349,946.*Source: NCDRC Registrar.How?.The Commission has twelve members presiding over six Benches – seven judicial members and five non-judicial members including the President..Presently, the Commission is headed by ex-Supreme Court judge DK Jain who is the President. Justice Jain is as genial to junior lawyers as he is firm with frivolous petitions and prolonged litigation..From the court.I witness a heartwarming moment in Bench No. 1 headed by Jain, where he is hearing the matter of a poor man suing a doctor over negligent treatment which led to temporary blindness..A young lady advocate is keenly observing the proceedings. Jain notices this and addresses her,.‘We have seen you appear before us regularly. Why don’t you assist the Court with this matter?’ .The lawyer agrees and Jain passes an order, directing the Registry to pay her amicus fees and also to provide her with the original records of the case..Talking to few lawyers, I find out that this is a usual practice in Jain’s court. He recognises junior advocates and appoints them as Amicus Curae (friend of the court), especially in matters where the litigants are too poor or for other reasons, are incapable of engaging effective counsel..He recognises junior advocates and appoints them as Amicus Curae (friend of the court), especially in matters where the litigants are too poor or for other reasons, are incapable of engaging effective counsel..Yet another defining feature of NCDRC that sets it apart from other tribunals is the efficient Registry. I see a harried advocate carrying two heavy briefs with him and struggling to get the third brief listed. Much to his dismay, he is told by the staff that some annexures are missing and translations of some vernacular documents are mandatory..But his troubles are eased when the filing person tells him that he can file the translations within the next week. No drama, no histrionics. The palpable relief for not getting a dressing down from his senior is evident on that young lawyer’s face..Lawyer speak.Pros: One of the lawyer describes the Commission as the ‘best forum for a young lawyer to practice’ because of the attitude of the Bench to encourage fresh talent. Describing it as a ‘litigant-friendly forum’, she further goes on to say how the judges themselves encourage parties to state their own grievances. From a lawyer’s point of view, the Bench cannot be termed as ‘pro-company’ or ‘pro-claimant’ but some kind of relief is assured..The judges are also extremely critical of frivolous litigation which involve paltry sums of money or are intended merely to harass the parties involved..Yet another lawyer tells me how often the judges display patience towards a young lawyer and narrates his own experience of arguing before DK Jain. The judge was goading the lawyer to come up with a better argument to support his case, convinced that there was a valid legal point to be made..Observing all this, one pauses to ask that is the National Commission an infallible body? Far from it, say the same lawyers..Cons: Both these lawyers lament about the delay in listing matters for final hearing citing lack of quorum. Matters are adjourned on multiple occasions due to lack of quorum..Secondly, the cost-imposition method employed by some judicial members, acts as a detriment than to the welfare of a client. An advocate tells me about her matter getting dismissed with imposition of heavy costs; all because a crucial document’s original was not produced before the Court (the photocopy being annexed to the main brief). “There are too many processes that need to be navigated before the client can obtain original records. The Bench could adopt some leniency and not decide the matter over such issues that can easily be overlooked vis-a-vis the merits of the case,” she rues..I also notice a standard caveat mentioned in the cause lists for some courts, on how proxy counsels would not be allowed to appear. There is unanimity among lawyers when they say on how this rule creates practical difficulties. The view is, that if for some genuine reason a lawyer is unable to appear before the Commission and he requests an equally competent advocate to ‘handle’ the matter on behalf of the client, then the same should be entertained and not jettisoned..I also notice a standard caveat mentioned in the cause lists for some courts, on how proxy counsels would not be allowed to appear. There is unanimity among lawyers when they say on how this rule creates practical difficulties..Yet another grievance happens to be the strict attitude adopted by the Bench towards delay in filing appeals. On paper, expeditiously approaching the higher forum for reconsideration of the matter helps everybody connected to it. But on various occasions, there are pressing circumstances which prevent a litigant from knocking the doors of the Commission immediately upon dismissal of his complaint. These circumstances, say lawyers, ought to be comprehended with sensitivity by the Bench so as to not adopt a straitjacket formula while dealing with the tricky aspect of condoning delay..Justice JM Malik’s court gets the maximum flak in this regard. I catch hold of a young advocate who has just received a dressing down from the venerable judge. A delay of three months in filing a revision, meant costs of twenty thousand rupees..“This is a standard practice in his Court. He is merciless to even short delays and penalises the clients heavily,” cribs the youngster; in deep thought. Presumably, on how to escape the wrath of the senior!.Verdict.There exist veritable chinks in the armour of NCDRC, just like any other system. The National Commission is a body that is a work in progress. But for the way matters are handled, litigants and lawyers are treated by the Bench and the Registry, it needs to be lauded and recognised..Post script.For a tribunal that sees a swarm of lawyers and litigants on a daily basis, the washrooms and other public utilities are very well maintained. Having visited a number of other courts, the NCDRC certainly deserves brownie points for getting this basic thing right!