Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela
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13th State Consumer Protection Council meeting held

     The State Consumer Protection Council, Orissa, met for the 13th time, on 5th August, at the Conference Hall of Directorate of Legal Metrology, Khandagiri, Bhubaneswar.

      Sri Niranjan Pujari, Minister for Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare, Government of Orissa,  stressed on the need to remain vigilant against unethical business and trade.  He wanted to spread awareness through Consumer Clubs.  In  this regard he felt the Voluntary Consumer Organisations and the state administration should work in tandem to safeguard the consumer interests.
     Sri Madhusudan Padhi, Commissioner and Secretary, Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Department, welcomed the gathering.  He highlighted the various initiatives taken by the Government of Orissa to protect the consumers and for strengthening the consumer movement.
     Sri G.C.Nayak, DCA-cum-Joint Secretary to the Government of Orissa, FS&CW Department, presented the Report of the activities of the State Consumer Protection Council, since it met the last time, in January 2011.
     Sri B.Vaidyanathan, Chief Mentor, Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela, said that responsive governmental action is critical for an effective consumer movement.  Realising this aspect the Consumer Protection Act envisaged the constitution of the Central Consumer Protection Council, under the Chairmanship of the Union Minister, with representatives of the state governments, voluntary consumer organisations, institutions set up to protect consumer welfare and others, from across the country.  In an inexplicable manner the Consumer Protection Rules were amended in 2006 to reduce this important consultative body to a farce.  Now, only a handful of states are represented and this Council has been reduced to a symbolic institution.  He wanted the SCPC to adopt a resolution conveying its appeal for the restoration of the Central Council in the original form.

     He felt that the quality of orders of the District Forums as well as that of the State Commission have in general been below the expectations of the consumer complainants and have in no way enthused more consumers to flock to them.  It is time a periodical review and orientation sessions were held for those who man them, with emphasis on consumer orientation, rather than being hyper-technical in approach.  It is essential that the civil court syndrome is left outside the consumer courts, he argued.

     Sri Vaidyanathan pleaded for attractive remuneration for the presiding members of the consumer courts, at least on par with the Grade I Officers of the State Government, so as to attract, retain and motivate them. 
Voluntary Consumer Organisations have been carrying forward the onerous task of strengthening the consumer movement with the hope that one day the situation will change for the better.  The sacrifices that these organisations are required to make are much more, than in developed countries.  But, at least their financial burden can be minimised.  Government can explore annual funding of consumer organisations, based on certain specified criteria, say, number of consumer cases resolved either through Consumer Courts or ADR mechanism, Sri Vaidyanathan said.

     Class Action Petitions (or Public Interest Litigations) filed under the CP Act have not been many.  CPC, Rourkela had brought relief through such initiatives to crores of consumers across the country.  Its LPG short-filling case is an example of how a properly undertaken study and supported by technical analysis can help the unsuspecting consumers.  Though CPC, Rourkela won its case in the NCDRC, against all odds, it was not provided adequate relief.  Hence, it has approached the Supreme Court.  The apex court has admitted the case and the matter is in “Hearing” stage.  To demonstrate to everyone that the present government does support the consumer movement and cares for the consumers at large, it should support the CPC, Rourkela’s Appeal before the Supreme Court.  After all, actions speak much more than words, he added.

     The meeting was attended by MLAs, consumer activists, government officials, and other stake holders.

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