KARNATAKA

State Consumer Council in hibernation

Bageshree S.



The council has not met for more than a year

Its recommendations are advisory in nature



Bangalore: The Karnataka State Consumer Protection Council last met on May 21, 2007. This advisory body constituted under the Consumer Protection Act 1986, has a mandate to hold “not less than two meetings every year” as the legislation states without any ambiguity.

No meeting

If the fact the council has not met for one-and-a-half years is a shock, here is more: technically speaking, the council does not even exist as of today because it has not been reconstituted after the Bharatiya Janata Party Government came to power in the State. But this does not surprise consumer activists who have seen the council go into hibernation once in a way. For example, the council did not exist for a spell of four long years between 1995 and 1999.

This is unfortunate because the council — which has the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies as its chairperson and government officials and consumer activists as members — has the important responsibility in guiding policy and educating consumers. It has to guide consumers against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and livelihood, advise on steps to be taken to keep consumers informed about quality, quantity, potency, purity, price and standards of goods and services and monitor unfair trade practices.

However, it is not as if the council has always debated weighty issues even when it is in place.

Many activists say that with “political appointments” playing an important role in the constitution of the council, the appointed members are not always those who are aware of consumer issues.

Recommendations

Another drawback is that the recommendations of the council are only advisory in nature. It is assumed that since the Minister is the chairman of the council, the state government would take it seriously.

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