Consumer forums welcome Supreme Court judgment

Published: 06th May 2013 10:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th May 2013 10:19 AM   |  A+A-

Piling up of stayed writ petitions of consumer forums in the High Court may soon become a thing of the past.

In a landmark judgment that comes as a major relief for consumer protection bodies in the state, the Supreme Court recently ruled that a High Court cannot entertain a writ petition against the orders of the consumer fora, for which the law prescribes a statutory channel of appeal, which must be maintained at all times.

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, stipulates court intervention only if grievances could not be redressed in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). 

“Only then can the aggrieved party approach the Supreme Court. But what is happening nowadays in such cases is that without going through the proper channel, the party concerned heads straightaway to the High Court and obtains a stay. This does not help in settling the issue instead it drags the whole process,” sources said. Besides, settling disputes through the consumer fora are comparatively cheap and an easy affair, they said.

“Approaching the High Court  in such cases would completely derail the very essence of the Consumer Protection Act. The three-tier system was formulated for the speedy redressal of the grievances, so why choose a complicated way,”  said Abdulla Sona, former senior member, State Consumer Redressal Commission. Rajesh, Ernakulam district consumers’ forum president, said the decision of the Supreme Court was a welcome move. “It would help to put an end to the undue delay in dispute settlement,” he said. The Consumer Protection Act offers a three-tier redressal mechanism for dispute settlement.

Disputes amounting to Rs 20 lakh can be settled in the district forum.  Disputes involving `20 lakh to `1 crore can be settled in the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission deals with disputes involving amounts of more than `1 crore.

The sources said one of the major reasons for people approaching the High Court is the absence of a Circuit Bench sitting of the NCDRC here. “To approach the NCDRC, the parties have to go to Delhi. So they approach the High Court here,” they said.

This issue could be resolved easily if an NCDRC sitting is held in South India.  “Kochi would have benefited the most as we have an annexe with all the facilities to conduct the sitting ,” they said.


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