High Court was hearing PIL filed by NLISU students

The Karnataka High Court on Friday ordered issue of notice to the State government on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition. The petition said that the law to protect consumers’ interest has been frustrated because the Karnataka State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (KSCDRC) was unable to adjudicate cases as posts of members remain vacant.

A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice K. Sreedhar Rao and Justice B.V. Nagarathna passed the order on the petition filed Basavanagoud Patil and four other students of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore.

The petitioners pointed out that the KSCDRC and two district consumer forums of Udupi and Kodagu were unable to adjudicate the cases filed by the consumers as two posts of members are vacant.

The PIL said that one of the two posts of members of the KSCDRC fell vacant on January 1, 2012 and the other in September 2012 but till date the government has not filled these posts. This has made the commission “functionless” as the president alone cannot decide on the complaints and appeals against district forums as each Bench of the commission should comprise two persons.

This situation, the petitioners said, has resulted in huge pendency. The KSCDRC had around 4,500 cases pending for adjudication as on July 2012, and about 4,200 in different district forums.

The district forums of Bellary, Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Dharwad, Haveri, Mandya and Bangalore Urban have only one member instead of two. Even though three new districts namely Ramanagaram, Chickballapur and Yadgir were created in 2007, no separate district consumer forums were set up there though it is mandatory to have at least one forum in a district as per the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The petitioners, who conducted a study titled “State of consumer protection in Karnataka”, also pointed out that based on the information obtained under the Right to Information Act it was known that disposal of cases took nearly two years while they should be disposed of in three months as per the Act. In as many as 2,500 cases, the commission and the forum took more than 180 days to dispose of the matters, the petitioners stated.

The PIL added that the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs in 2004 had advised the Karnataka government to set up an additional bench for the KSCDRC as the number of pending cases was more than 2,200 then. But the government had not set up Additional Bench despite repeated requests from the KSCDRC and in August 2012, the State Finance Department rejected the proposal for setting up of an additional bench.

Eviction

The Karnataka High Court on Friday ordered maintenance of status quo on evicting unauthorised occupants from the reserve forest areas surrounding Kalaseshwara temple in Chikmagalur district.

A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice K. Sreedhar Rao and Justice A.S. Bopanna passed the interim order on a review petition filed by a few affected residents claiming that they were not heard by the court before it passed its order in April on evicting the unauthorised occupants from 10,000 acres of forest area.

In its earlier order, the court had directed the Chief Conservator of Forests to evict unauthorised occupants from the reserve forests after a survey by December 31, 2012, which was later extended till February 15, 2013.


  • ‘The vacancies in the commission have resulted in huge pendency of cases’

  • ‘Consumer Affairs Ministry had asked the State to set up an additional bench, but it did not’