to Consumer Protection Act
A two-day Workshop to discuss and recommend amendments to the Consumer Protection Act, was held at The Tamilnadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai, on the 18th and 19th June 2011.
Representatives of leading voluntary consumer organisations from across the country participated in the Workshop. The Workshop got a boost, as the entire first day proceedings were moderated and conducted by the former Chief Election Commissioner Sri N.Gopalaswamy, while the second day proceedings were moderated by Prof. S.S.Singh, Director, National Law Institute University, Bhopal.
The participants were unanimous that the consumer courts were not functioning effectively and there were serious shortcomings in the appointment of the members to these redressal machinery. The participants also voiced their concern about the limitless adjournments that were being handed out, putting the litigant consumer to enormous hardship. Similarly, it was felt that the compensation being awarded to the consumers were a pittance.
The workshop recommended certain important amendments to the Consumer Protection Act, and the Rules and Regulations framed thereunder. These include provision for including all types of services rendered even by governmental agencies; restricting appearance of lawyers in consumer courts; including a representative of a voluntary consumer organisation, in the Selection Committee for appointing the members of the presiding members of the District Forum, State Commission and the National Commission; making it mandatory on the part of the consumer courts to decide the cases on merit, when the consumer litigant is absent (present provision is to either decide the case on merit or dismiss it for default to appear); provisions to award deterring punishments for non-compliance of orders; make the Central Consumer Protection Council, more representative; include enabling provisions in the Rules for enabling the consumer courts to award punitive damages and cost as provided in sec. 14 of the CP Act; and to amend the Rules so that credit of fines when consumers are not easily identifiable, between the litigant consumers/consumer groups and the Consumer Welfare Fund, in the ratio of 3:1.
Representatives from CCC, CPA, Agartala, CPC, Rourkela, CAI, Chennai, CCCAG, Chennai, VOICE, New Delhi, CUTS, Jaipur, CERC, Ahmedabad, CONFET, KCSS, CA, Kerala, CCS, Bangalore, Professors of IIPA, NLSIU, Bangalore, NLIU, Bhopal and many other practising consumer activists and a presiding member of the District Forum, participated in the lively discussions.
The Workshop was organised by Consumers Association of India and was sponsored
by Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi. While Sri
R.Desikan, of CAI co-ordinated the event, Sri B.Vaidyanathan, of Consumer
Protection Council, Rourkela, prepared the base paper. The recommendations
will be sent to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India,
for further necessary action.
Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela