KOCHI: With thousands of petitions pending in consumer courts and only three of the 14 consumer courts in the state functional, Express looks at three interesting pending cases at Ernakulam District Consumer Court.
Pramod T Paul, a software engineer, approached the Ernakulam District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum with a plaint in 2016. As per his petition, he had entrusted a building contractor based in Kalamassery to construct his 2,400 sq.ft house at Thiruvamkulam, near Tripunithura in 2014 within one year. However, after accepting Rs 3 lakh as advance the contractor left without commencing construction. Whenever he rang up the contractor, he cited several reasons to delay construction. Thus, Pramod and family were forced to stay in a rented house paying Rs 15,000 a month. Pramod lodged a petition before the forum seeking compensation and the advance amount paid by him. Though the forum members visited the site, the petition still remains unsettled. In Ernakulam Forum, at present, there is only a president and no members.
In the meantime, he constructed a house by engaging another contractor. “I moved the consumer court hearing that cases are settled faster than in civil courts. However, for the past three years, there has been no action,” said Pramod.
In 2017, Rema George, a political activist in Kottayam, lodged a complaint before Ernakulam District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum against the heavy parking fee being levied at Lulu Mall. As she is a resident of Kottayam the case was transferred to the district forum there. However, the forum dismissed her petition citing she was not a consumer. Following health issues, she could not follow up her appeal petition lodged before the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Meanwhile, she filed RTI applications seeking judgments produced by the forum from 2013 to 2018. She has not received a reply from the authorities so far. “Ninety per cent of judgments produced by the forum were in favour of corporate companies. I don’t know how the forum judged that I was not a consumer in the case,” she said.
Thankamma Devasia, 64, and her son Jojan Devasia of Kadanadu, Kottayam, lodged a petition seeking compensation of I7,80,000 from a car dealer in Kochi alleging the dealer cheated them by quoting an exorbitant rate. In January 2015, Jojan gave his car to the dealer following an accident. However, though the vehicle had an Insurance Declared Value of I3.3 lakh, the dealer wrongly quoted I2.25 lakh after allegedly colluding with the insurance company. His car was repaired but a few complaints were not rectified. Though Jojan spoke with the customer care executives several times, they were not ready to take action. Meanwhile, they attempted to pacify him by quoting several rates. Following this, he moved the Ernakulam District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in August 2015. Despite several sittings, the case is still pending. Interestingly, the car is still parked at the showroom.