The Bombay High Court last week sought the response of the Central and Maharashtr a State governments on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition demanding a permanent regional bench of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) at Nagpur..A bench of Justices GA Sanap and Sunil B Shukre directed the advocates for the respondents to take instructions and file reply affidavits within 4 weeks.The petition filed by Consumer Court Advocates Association and NGO Citizens Forum for Equality demanded a permanent regional bench of NCDRC at Nagpur. It also requested that the present members and president of Consumer Commissions be granted an extension of tenure in light of increasing vacancies and increasing pendency of cases.The petitioners highlighted that a large number of consumers across Maharashtra were suffering due to the pendency of cases at the NCDRC and also because they had to spent a lot of time, energy and resources to travel to New Delhi for their hearings.They informed the Court that a representation made by them to the Central Government demanding a bench at Nagpur had not been acted upon despite the government having the power to notify a regional/circuit bench under Section 53(2) of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019.The petition stated that the NCDRC, New Delhi, had repeatedly requested the Central government and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to approve and notify 18 cities as places to work for NCDRC circuit benches, but the Central government failed to take any action, forcing consumers across the entire State to travel to New Delhi to redress their grievances, incurring significant travel costs.It was contended that since the Central government had already established 17 benches of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and 21 benches of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in India, Regional NCDRC benches must be established for the benefit of consumers across the country.In this regard, the petitioner highlighted the pendency of 70,000 cases before all District Commissions in the State of Maharashtra and 40,000 cases before the State Commission. It was also pointed out that the Court had earlier quashed and set aside Consumer Protection Rules 2020 for appointment of the president and members in State and District Consumer Commissions by a September 2021 judgment, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court by the Central and State governments.In this backdrop, it was highlighted by the petitioners that the Central government had failed to make new rules for appointment of the members and president of the State and District Commissions as directed by the High Court in September 2021 and hence no appointment could be done in last 2 years in the state of Maharashtra. There are 16 vacant posts of the President of District Consumer Commission, it was submitted.The petitioners, therefore, specifically prayed that the High Court direct the State government to extend the tenure of existing members and the president in the larger interest of justice until new Members and President are appointed by the State.The plea also challenged the validity of rule 6 of the Consumer Protection Rules 2020 made by State Government of Maharashtra by which the senior most member of the district consumer commission can exercise the powers of the president of the commission in absence of such president due to casual vacancy. The challenge was based on the ground that the State government had no power to make the rule as it was contrary to Sections 28, 32, 36, 39 of the New Consumer Protection act 2019 and also violative of articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of the India.Advocate Dr. Tushar Mandlekar assisted by advocate Tejas Fadnavis argued for the petitioners. Additional Solicitor General Nandesh Deshpande argued for the Central government while Assistant Government Pleader IJ Damle argued for the State Government.