NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to extend term of three members in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) until all seven vacancies are freshly filled up. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra while refusing to give any relief said, "We can't extend tenure like this. There are so many vacancies in the Supreme Court too. Should we extend the term of judges here too?"
The inordinate delay in filling up the vacancies at the top consumer body is because of the narrowing down of the criteria of short-listing of applicants by the government. As per the norms, only former government officials will be considered. This is the main reason for delay in appointing of members.
NCDRC has 11 members and a president. The government had advertised vacancy of the president and seven members out of whom three are non-judicial members. According to the notification issued last year, applicants for non-judicial members must have 20 years' experience in economics, business, commerce, law, finance, public administration and management.
The Supreme Court extended the tenure of President and other members of NCDRC twice in the past six months due to delay in completion of the selection process and to ensure that there is smooth functioning of the body.
Recently Justice R K Agrawal was appointed as the new president, who retired from the Supreme Court barely four weeks back but he is still to take over. The increasing vacancy has also led to the rise in the average period between two hearings in the NCDRC has increased to 94 days this year against 81 days in 2015. As per the Consumer Protection Act, cases should be admitted or rejected in three weeks.