Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela
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'Consumer justice is your Right'
By Express News Service - CHENNAIPublished: 14th March 2013 09:21 AM
Last Updated: 14th March 2013 09:21 AM
B Vaidyanathan, Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela, addressing mediapersons on Wednesday| P Ravikumar
Consumers International has urged its members and supporters to use World Consumer Rights Day (March 15) as an occasion to expose poor consumer protection across the world.
B Vaidyanathan, chief mentor, Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela, addressing reporters in the city on Wednesday, said: “Whether it’s faulty products causing injury, utility service providers ignoring complaints etc, better consumer protection is always part of this solution. Hence the theme of this year — ‘Consumer Justice Now’.”
He said, in this context, the prevailing situation in this country was worth taking a look. “It is far from enthusing. Though the consumer courts were constituted under the Consumer Protection Act, it is general experience that a sizeable number of even the limited population which approach these bodies, are far from satisfied on various counts. Even the Central Government, which ought to support this movement, seems to be unwilling to do so. After all, it was Rajiv Gandhi, who was for enabling enactment of the Consumer Protection Act in 1986.”
Vaidyanathan said it was unfortunate that even the higher judiciary did not seem to be too serious to play its designated role to meaningfully interpret the law against unfair trade practices. The Central Consumer Protection Council, an important standing committee for addressing vital issues of consumer relevance across the country, was decimated to the extent of irrelevance, in 2005.
About 150 members representing from all the States were reduced to a only some four State representatives from 2005. The Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela, which was formed in 1985 to safeguard consumer interests, took up several issues affecting a wide section of population across the country.
One such issue was the under-weightment of LPG cooking gas refills affecting
consumers across the country. The council, through its random surveys,
found that the consumer, on an average, was losing a sum of `10 per cylinder,
as per the 2001 price. “Since IOC did not see reason to rectify the shortcoming
in its bottling plants, which was found to be the root cause of the problem,
the council approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
(NCDRC) in 2001. After this, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs set
up a committee comprising professors from IIT, Kharagpur, to ascertain
the weight of the cylinders. Later the apex court concluded that the government
and the oil marketing company had complied with the orders of the national
commission,” he said. “The last hope for the consumer is the judiciary.
The only solution is that consumer awareness must increase multi fold so
that they are not taken for granted. They shall have to unite and ensure
that they are heard,” he added.