‘We have been able to execute most of the orders’



Raghava M.

Consumer courts are a major step in delivering justice

BANGALORE: One of the successes in the country’s legal system is the functioning of the consumer courts. But they can be made much more efficient with better infrastructure. The Hindu spoke to the president of Karnataka State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Chandrashekaraiah for a ringside view of the consumer courts. Q: It’s four years since you have been at the helm of administering justice to consumers. How far have you succeeded in reaching out in protecting the consumer rights at the grass root level as envisioned in the Consumer Protection Act? A: In the absence of vehicles for district consumer redressal forums, the presidents and the members of the forums find it difficult in reaching out to people in the taluk and village. I have instructed our members to associate with the programmes organised by Karnataka Legal Services Authority in villages and make people aware of consumer rights. Educating people about their rights is the best way of protecting it. How is the District Consumer Protection Council set up in each district functioning? Have they been able to campaign about the rights of the consumers? The Deputy Commissioner of the district heads the District Consumer Protection Council. The councils have not been doing any work in propagating about consumer rights. Being an officer in-charge of district administration, he has not enough time to make use of his subordinates to create awareness about consumer rights. The consumer forums and State Commission are no way associated with the protection councils. What are the ways in which the consumer forums and the State Consumer Redressal Commission are reaching out to the people? Apart from being associated with consumer rights awareness, we keep a track of the emails sent to us ( >karscdrc@kar.nic.in). If public interest is involved we write to the consumer and guide him in filing a complaint with necessary fee. If the consumer belongs to the Below Poverty Line category, he will not be charged any fee. Where the consumer himself prosecutes the case, the State Consumer Commission and Consumer forums take extra care in deciding the cases. Our website ( >www.karscdrc.kar.nic.in) has regular updates of judgments, the stage of cases and also dates on which cases are posted. Judgments and the list of cases in the district consumer forums are made available on the website >www.confonet.nic.in How have the consumer courts been able to give relief to consumers? Our object is to deliver justice as early as possible. Unlike the civil courts, we make use of summary procedure to hear the case. It all depends on how soon you understand the case and give relief in accordance with law. Cost is imposed if the parties seek adjournments in the hearing. The State Commission frequently conducts training sessions for the consumer forum presidents and members in the Indian Institute of Public Management to make them aware of consumer rights and educate them about the ways to decide cases. Do you feel the need to have a laboratory of your own to test defects in consumer goods? No, such cases are very few. Once a case is filed, we send the goods to the laboratories of various government departments and recognised private institutions and get the report. We ask for comments of both the parties. If we find defect in the report we will not rely on it. Is executing orders of consumer courts a problem? Except for few cases, we have been able to execute most of the orders. No execution petition is pending with the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. We direct the parties to pay the compensation within a prescribed period. If he fails to do, he is asked to pay the amount with an interest from the date of filing of the complaint. Many pay the compensation within the prescribed time in order to avoid payment of interest. Consumer Forums have also been sending the judgment violators behind bars under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act. There are cases, including the ones filed by depositors in the defunct Viniv Inc run by Sreenivasa Shastry, seeking the execution of judgment under Section 25 of the Act. Here certificates have been issued to the Deputy Commissioner to recover the compensation as arrears in land revenue. Of the 2,582 certificates issued by the Bangalore consumer courts, the Deputy Commissioner has taken action in 1,089 cases.

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