NEW DELHI: To keep strict vigil on consumer courts across the country, especially at the district level, the Centre is set to install CCTVs so that the accountability can be fixed on erring officials for not performing their duty diligently.
At present, there are more than 5 lakh consumer disputes cases pending in India. The high pendency is often linked to non-performance and vacancies
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has already finalised the specifications for installation of cameras and a tender will soon be floated. It has also notified a new model code of rules for appointment of judges at various positions in consumer forums and chart out ways by which vacancy can be filled on a timely basis.
In the absence of rules of appointment, about 400 vacancies have arisen due to which the pendency of cases in consumer courts has increased. The inordinate delay in filling up the vacancies is because the government has narrowed down the criteria of shortlisting applicants.
The increasing vacancy has also led to a rise in the average period between two hearings in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to 94 days this year from 81 days in 2015. As per the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, cases should be admitted or rejected in three weeks.
The Department of Consumer Affairs has also stated that the positions which are likely to get vacant in case of retirements should be filled up immediately and this process should be completed in six months’ time in advance.
The code also specifies that any consumer forum at any level won’t be able to keep more than 500 cases pending at a given time and necessary steps should be taken to minimise the pendency.
In case average case filing goes above 1,500 in a year in a district consumer forum, the state government should establish an additional court in the district.
The ministry is also conducting a study to upgrade the infrastructure of consumer courts.