KOCHI: Thousands of unresolved complaints are piling up at various consumer forums across the state, leaving the public in a lurch. Though the Supreme Court had issued an order directing states to reconstitute the state and district consumer forums, authorities in Kerala are yet to take any measures to implement it.
Ever since the pandemic outbreak, the functioning of the forums was affected and as of June, nearly 18,000 consumer disputes are awaiting resolution at various district and state consumer commissions.
Consumer activists are condemning the apathy of authorities and demanding an immediate reconstitution of the state and district consumer forums. M Sashidharan Nair, general secretary of CONFRA Consumer Forum, said the forums and commissions are not accepting white paper complaints from consumers and are demanding they proceed legally with the help of a lawyer. This is in violation of the Consumer Protection Act, 1988, he said.
“The state government is not taking any steps to implement the SC order and reconstitute the forums and commission with eligible and qualified members. A consumer should be able to register the complaint in a white paper at the forums and the commission, which must accept it and help the consumer get a solution. But now, people are being told to go to the court, which is a violation of consumer rights,” said Sashidharan. He added that the post of Secretary at the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Commission has been lying vacant for eight months.
An official of the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Commission told TNIE that the commission is actively resolving cases despite the challenges. “The commission is holding virtual hearings. Few district forums are holding the hearings offline and owing to Covid restrictions, they are only able to settle few complaints daily,” said the official.