SC asks Centre to file model rules on consumer fora in 4 weeks

The Supreme Court today granted four more weeks to the Centre to file comprehensive model rules to deal with various aspects of the functioning of consumer fora across the country.

The top court, in its verdict on November 21, 2016, had taken serious note of infrastructural inadequacy and other problems faced by consumer courts across the country and passed a slew of directions for a "systemic overhaul" so that the Consumer Protection Act does not become a "dead letter".

Referring to a report submitted by a top court-appointed committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Arijit Pasayat on the state of consumer courts, it had then asked the Centre to frame in four months the model rules for adoption by the state governments and submit them before it for approval.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud today considered the submission of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre, that he would filw the model rules and sought four more weeks to do the needful.

"List the matter for further proceedings on April 27," the bench said.

Earlier, the bench had sought the ASG's assistance in "formulating appropriate directions to ensure that proper infrastructure is made available at all levels of the consumer fora across the country."

It had also asked the Centre to file a comprehensive status report indicating compliance with the directions issued by the court in its judgement.

The court, in its judgement, had said that the "poor state" of the consumer courts was mainly due to gross inadequate infrastructure, poor organisational set-up, absence of adequate and trained manpower and lack of qualified members in the adjudicating bodies.

"A systemic overhaul of the entire infrastructure is necessary if the Consumer Protection Act is not to become a dead letter. With the proliferation of goods and services in a rapidly growing economy, Parliament envisaged the enactment to be the corner-stone of a vibrant consumer movement. Reality has been distant from the aspirations of the law,"it had said.

It had asked the Centre to frame model rules, prescribing objective norms for implementing the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act in regard to the appointment of members of the district fora, State Commissions and the National Commission.

The bench had said the model rules shall provide for payment of salary, allowances and the conditions of service of the members of the consumer fora commensurate with the nature of adjudicatory duties and the need to attract suitable talent to the adjudicating bodies.

It had said these rules should be finalised after due consultation with the President of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, within the stipulated period.

It had noted that the state governments had failed to respond to the suggestions of the committee for streamlining the state of affairs and the quality of the presiding members and especially of non-judicial members at the state and district levels, which was "poor".

The bench had also proposed that members of the NCDRC should get the same salaries, allowances and conditions of services as available to the sitting judges of the high courts.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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