Consumer Disputes Redressal: Filing, disposal of cases on rise
Kolkata: The filing and disposal of cases at the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission have gone up nearly nine times in the last ten years which is a clear indication of people's faith in the consumer forum. The number of cases filed and disposal of cases have witnessed a noticeable rise since the year 2012 after Mamata Banerjee government assumed charge of the state in 2011.
"We have taken up massive awareness campaign both through audio and visual mediums and also in the form of banners and hoardings informing consumers about their rights and this has contributed in people approaching the state Commission for justice if they are fleeced by any means. Presently, we have three benches of the Commission at our head office on Mirza Ghalib Street. We are coming up with two more state Commissions, one in Siliguri and another in Asansol. People who will be based near these two Commissions do not need to come to Kolkata," Consumer Affairs minister Sadhan Pande said.
The State Commission in Siliguri will be inaugurated in the month of May after the panchayat polls. The number of cases filed and disposed in the 23 district forums across the state has also seen a steady rise. As per statistics, the number of cases filed in the year 2008 was 502 with the disposal being 594 (previous year's pending cases included). In the year 2017, the number of cases filed have been 4,026 with 3,370 cases disposed. In 2011, cases filed were 969 with disposal 821 while in 2012 filing went up to 1,827 and disposal was 1,170.
In 2011, the number of cases filed and disposed at the district forums were 3,283 and 3,105 respectively. It has doubled to 7,726 and 7,190 respectively in 2017.
It may be mentioned that under the existing Consumer Act 1986, a person seeking justice from the district forum can get compensation upto Rs 20 lakh and upto Rs 1 crore in case of the State Commission. If the compensation is more than Rs 1 crore, the victim will have to approach the National Commission.
"Some months back, I had written to the Centre to raise the jurisdiction of the consumer courts in term of ordering compensation. As per my viewpoint, compensation for district forums will be upto Rs 1 crore while the state commission can do the same upto Rs 1 crore. The standing committee at the centre has approved my viewpoint and is dilly dallying in bringing the amended act. But we hope that things will work out in the next Parliament session," Pande said.
The minister was critical of the centre's allocation on consumer affairs which is not more than Rs 200 crore for the entire country. "We have an allocation of Rs 60 crore in this which shows our government's commitment in dealing with consumer matters," he maintained.