NEW DELHI: Over 4.5 lakh cases are pending in consumer courts across the country and most of the backlog is in district court forums that are spread across the 29 states and seven union territories in the country. Even as there is maximum pendency at district levels, most of these forums are short-staffed. Around 20 percent posts are lying vacant in district consumer courts till August 2, this year. Of the total sanctioned strength of 1,884 posts in over 500 district court forums, 383 posts are lying vacant. Each district consumer forum comprises a President and some members.
The minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution CR Chaudhary recently shared the figures in the Rajya Sabha while giving a written reply on the issue. Chaudhary also said that pendency of complaints in consumer courts has been increasing over the years. Chaudhary, however, added that the government is taking several steps to resolve the issue of pendency. He said, “Some of the state commissions and district forums are holding lok adalats for speedy disposal of cases...The central government has been asking the state governments to take timely action to fill up the vacancies of President and members of the consumer forums so that no consumer forums remain non-functional.
The statistics also revealed that the pendency in consumer courts has gone up but the grants released by government, for strengthening of these courts, has come down. While the government released Rs 2331.08 lakh for upkeep of consumer courts in the financial year 2015-2016, the amount came down to Rs 965.75 lakh in the financial year 2016-2017.
The state commissions—which are the appellate authority against orders of the district consumer forums in respective states and union territories—also have some vacancies but the situation in state commissions is much better than in district forums. According to the latest government data of August 2, this year, of the total 155 posts in state commissions, 20 posts are lying vacant.
The cases pending before consumer courts pertain to disputes arising over a range of issues such as insurance matters, housing deals, banking matters, finance deals, functioning and purchase of automobiles, purchase and functioning of electrical and electronic goods, electricity cases, medical negligence cases etc. Of the total 4.5 lakh pending cases, maximum cases are pending under the “other category”, followed by cases related to insurance and housing matters. The data shows over 1.75 lakh cases are pending under the “other category”, 91,292 insurance related cases are pending and 47,916 housing disputes are pending in the consumer courts of the country.