The Consumer Protection Councils formed at the state and district levels to inform and educate consumers of their rights are currently defunct.
According to sources, it has been more than three years since the State Consumer Protection Council has been convened and there are many districts yet to constitute a Consumer Protection Council.
Consumer Protection Rights Minister Anoop Jacob admitted that the government has failed in convening the councils.
P A Surendran, general secretary, Consumer Association (a national NGO), said that the Consumer Protection Councils across the state could have resolved many issues in a time bound manner without the consumers having to approach the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forums.
“The primary aim of the council is to create an awareness among consumers. Once they are aware of their rights, consumer grievances can be reduced to a great extent,” he said.
Surendran added that the councils have been formed to make the consumers aware of their rights - rights to safety, redressal, choice, information, representation and consumer education.
But no measures have been initiated by the government to see that the councils functioned properly. He pointed out that the formation of the Consumer Protection Councils have always been steeped in controversies.
Though there was an order to form a state-level Consumer Protection Council before March 2003, the government took steps only in 2005, after the intervention of the High Court.
“Even then it took one year to constitute the State Consumer Protection Council. But no substantial measures were taken. In 2008, the then chief minister V S Achuthanandan and the civil supplies minister C Divakaran had assured that necessary steps would be taken in this regard. Till date, the government has not made a favourable response,” he said.
The rules stipulate that the State Consumer Protection Council and District Consumer Protection Councils have to be convened at least twice in two years. The Consumer Protection Rights Minister is the chairman of the State Consumer Protection Council and the District Collectors chair the District Consumer Protec t ion Councils.
“The chairman could convene the councils more number of times which will definitely be a boost for the councils,” Surendran said. Consumer Protection Rights Minister Anoop Jacob said that measures would be taken soon to convene the councils.
“I have already given instructions to the District Collectors to take immediate steps in this regard,” he added.