Consumers in the coastal region do not seem keen on initiating legal action against companies and institutions for supplying faulty gadgets or providing deficient service.

This was stated by K. Ramanna, president of the Karnataka State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. He was inaugurating a consumer awareness programme and legal workshop at Lions Seva Mandir here on Saturday. Mr. Ramanna said that although the region, and the districts of Shimoga and Kodagu, had a high percentage of educated people, they were not taking recourse to the law even when they were exploited by certain providers of goods and services. He wondered whether people preferred out-of-court settlements.

The fact that both Dakshina Kannada and Bijapur had matching number of pending cases showed that the people had begun taking interest in filing cases. Of the 9,500 cases received by the forum so far, 9,351 had been disposed of. In Bijapur, a larger district, only 36 cases were pending. “People are aware of the legal provisions at least to some extent,” Mr. Ramanna said.

People could file cases against educational institutions, post offices, hospitals and nursing homes. He cited the example of a girl who had not received from her college the hall ticket to attend the second PU examination, despite having paid Rs. 6,000 as tuition fee. The college did not have government recognition. A district forum had ruled that 50 per cent of the tuition fee should be refunded to the student along with a compensation of Rs. 2,000 and litigation cost of Rs. 500. When the college appealed to the commission, it increased the compensation to Rs. 25,000 and asked the college to refund the entire tuition fee along with the litigation cost of Rs. 2,000, Mr. Ramanna said. The commission had also allowed a case filed by an unemployed youth against the post office, which had delivered an interview call letter after the interview date.

Mr. Ramanna advised people to compulsorily obtain receipts for whatever they bought. Traders usually discouraged people from demanding receipts by referring to the additional tax burden. There were many instances of consumers failing to produce a receipt before consumer forums, he said.

Complimenting a television news channel for exposing the malpractices in sale of petrol in Bangalore recently, he said the media could spread the awareness about the Consumer Protection Act. District in-charge Minister J. Krishna Palemar said that many people wrongly believed that going to court with cases involving meagre losses was not worthwhile. In Bangalore, a few advocates were offering free service to the people for filing cases in consumer forums. In Dakshina Kannada this was missing, he said.

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