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The Delhi High Court has issued notice in a petition seeking a direction to the Delhi government to fill up the vacant posts of judicial and other members of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and the District Consumer Fora in the NCR region.
The petition also seeks a direction to the Delhi government to constitute more benches and make ad hoc appointments for time-bound disposal of cases that have been pending for more than two years.
Filed by NGO Dignity Restoration and Grievance Settlement Association, the petition was listed for hearing before a Division Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao.
The petition, filed through Advocate Shantha Devi Raman, states that consumer disputes are “lingering on” in the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and the District Fora for years, due to which “the object of the [Consumer Protection] Act has lost its sheen”.
Citing a reply to an RTI application made to the government, the petitioner asserts that 23,718 cases were pending jointly in State Commission and District Fora in the beginning of June 2018. By the end of the month, that number had increased to 23,887 cases.
“During this period State Commission and District Forums disposed off only 198 cases and as many as 367 fresh cases were filed which increased the number of pendency in State Commission and District Forums, ultimately rendering the object of the said Act obsolete”, it is stated.
Similarly, for District Fora, 13,082 complaints are pending since 0-5 years, and 4,902 complaints are pending since 5-10 years. Section 13 (3A) of the Consumer Protection Act provides for 3 months as the period for deciding complaints, the petition submits.
The reasons for the pendency of consumer complaints, the petitioner claims, include vacant positions in the District Fora, lack of infrastructure, untrained staff, and the failure to adhere to summary procedure.
Also sought is a direction to the Delhi government to frame necessary guidelines for speedy disposal of the complaints pending in the State Commission and the District Fora.
It also prays for introduction of electronic filing of consumer complaints and process to serve notices via electronic medium.
The case will next be heard on April 1, 2019.
Read the order:
Read the Petition: