Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela
Mr. B.Vaidyanathan, Chief Mentor, addressing the 27th AGM, of CPC, Rourkela, at the Rourkela Club, on 26th May 13. Sri P.Karunakaran, President, and Sri B.Pradhan, are also seen (seated to his left and right, respectively).
Sri B.Vaidyanathan, Chief Mentor, CPC, Rourkela, while addressing the 27th Annual General Meeting, exhorted the Council to take up issues relevant to the people, so that it will remain popular. He said any voluntary organisation or NGO will become and remain popular, only when its activities are found relevant to the society that it serves. In this context, he recalled the various issues taken up by the Council since the days of its formation. Initiative to shift the Low Power Transmitter (LPT) from Uditnagar to the elevated and centrally located Durgapur Hills, to improve TV signal reception, towards the end of the 80s, was well received in the Mandi House and the Engineering Wing of the Doordarshan, appreciated the initiative and even encouraged him to give periodical feedback about the actual progress of the construction, at the Durgapur Hills, he said. It was the satisfaction and being able to do something worthwhile, which motivated him to go up the hills, which did not have proper road at that time, at regular intervals, along with the then Joint Secretary of the CPC, Sri B.Mustafi.
Sri Vaidyanathan pointed out that quitting was easier, but when you want to achieve something, one should not mind the obstacles and find ways and means of overcoming them with some ingenuity.
The Council has to remain in touch with the people it is supposed to serve. It was only through such interaction the problem of under-weighment of cooking gas refills came to light, he said.
Sri Vaidyanathan said that in the LPG under-weighment case, though the National Commission failed to address the key issues relating to payment of punitive damages and other compensation as provided in the Consumer Protection Act, after having concluded that the short weighed refills affect the consumers across the country, he had a great hope that the Supreme Court will do justice. Unfortunately, the supreme court preferred to give an irrelevant judgement, ignoring the main grounds of appeal. As per the estimates submitted by the Council, to the NCDRC, defective (short-weighed) 'Indane' LPG refills worth over Rs. 65,000 crores had been sold by the IOC and as per the provisions of the Consumer Act, IOC should have been directed to pay at least Rs. 3,250 crores to the Consumer Welfare Fund, Sri Vaidyanathan emphasised. But the National Commission remained silent in its order and had declared its inability to consider it under the review as well.
Hence, CPC, Rourkela, appealed to the Supreme Court, under sec. 23 of the Consumer Protection Act. In gross violation of the provisions under which the appeal was made and with scant regard to the facts of the case and the appeal, the Supreme Court concluded, in Dec. 2012, that the appeal had become 'infructuous', as both the government and IOC had been complying with the directives of the National Commission, Sri Vaidyanathan said.
He further said that when the order of the National Commission was questioned in the appeal made under sec. 23 of the Consumer Protection Act, the Supreme Court was only to decide whether there were any shortcomings in the impugned order of the National Commission. An appeal made under sec. 23 cannot become 'infructuous'. It can either be maintainable or not. It appears as though the Supreme Court had not even understood the basis on which the appeal was made. The Review Petition highlighting these shortcomings was also dismissed in Feb. 2013.
Sri Vaidyanathan said that the media's response was also far from encouraging. Anyhow, for whatever it is worth he will address them at Rourkela as well as at Delhi so as to create an awareness about the unreasonableness of the order of the Supreme Court, and the injustice done to the consumers and the consumer movement. He said that he was contemplating issuing advertisements in appropriate newspapers, at least in Delhi, so that the message reached the masses.
The legal course left is filing the Curative Petition and that will also be done in due course, he said. He said that all these initiatives required money and contribution from each and everyone is welcome. Though, for the past five years he had been managing the case and other activities, spending on his account, a major initiative like insertion of advertisement will require good amount of funds, for which he wanted everyone to come forward.
Several members appreciated the Council's efforts and volunteered to contribute for this initiative. Sri B.Pradhan, Secretary, CPC, Rourkela, agreed to place an advertisement in the Council's monthly Advantage Consumer.