Wake up consumer!
Consumer Protection Act empowers you
JUSTICE BY ROSHAN KHAYAL KHAN
Laws concerning life are in vogue in the country. Be it personal law, mercantile law, banking law, administrative laws, service laws and the like. There are quite a number of social legislations like guardian and wards act, motor accidents claims law, law pertaining to maintenance of wife children and parents etc. which have come to the rescue of effected people. One of the finest social legislations in force in the country has been the Consumers Protection Act. This fine piece of legislation has been able to provide adequate remedy to consumers, who prior to its enactment in 1986, were exploited to the hilt by goods and service providers. Sale of defective and of inferior quality goods and those not conforming to the projected quality was quite rampant. Similarly service providers like insurance companies would more often than not fleece the consumers by not indemnifying them when loss was suffered by them qua insured goods. Deficiency in service and unfair trade practice was order of the day. In this scenario civil law did provide the remedy by way of civil suit but that was quite cumbersome, expensive and above all time consuming. So people would not mostly avail the remedy. In this scenario need of affordable, simple and effective legislation was badly felt. Ultimately the legislators had to rise to the occasion and enact a law for better protection of interests of consumers. Thus the Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 1986. It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. After one year the State Act came to be passed by the State Legislature known as “The J&K Consumer Protection Act 1987”. Since then the law has revolutionized the consumer movement and has been able to protect the interests of the consumers to a great deal.
In the State of J&K we have Divisional Consumer Forum Jammu and Divisional Consumer Forum Kashmir which have pecuniary jurisdiction upto Rupees Five lacs. We also have J&K State Consumer Commission in place which has pecuniary jurisdiction of above Rupees Five Lacs. The latter has both original as well as appellate jurisdiction while as the former have only original jurisdiction. In case any party to a consumer dispute is aggrieved of a decision of Divisional Consumer Forum, it can file appeal before the State Consumer Commission. Similarly appeal against the judgment of State Consumer Commission can be preferred before the Hon’ble High court of J&K which has appellate jurisdiction in the matter.
The consumer fora are doing an excellent job despite many hiccups in the system. Consumers are generally satisfied about their performance although they wish for even faster disposal of their cases. Awareness about the law is not much. Litigants in most cases cause delay in disposal of their cases themselves. Poor drafting of complaints, non-submission of documentary proofs with the complaints, delay in production of witnesses are some of the contributory causes which dilate the proceedings and tell upon faster disposal of cases and thereby create backlog. Delay on the part of opposite parties also does its bit .
Notwithstanding the hurdles consumers are getting adequate remedy through Consumer Fora. Recently State Consumer Commission pronounced some significant judgments. In the appeal titled National Insurance Company V/S Muhammad Rafiq Mir, the Hon’ble Commission comprising of its President Justice G.D.Sharma and member Miss Shabnam Munshi held that the Divisional Consumer Forum had rightly reimbursed respondent No.1 (Muhammad Rafiq Mir) for the assessed loss of Rs.4,41,000/- made payable from the appellant (National Insurance Company) alongwith interest @ 6% per annum after six months from the date of loss till realization alongwith litigation charges. The appeal was found meritless and dismissed with costs of Rs.4,000/- vide judgment dated 31-05-2011.
In the complaint titled M/s Waadi Pollution Checking Centre V/s Managing Director Neptune Equipment Pvt. Ltd the complainant had purchased upgraded machines for the unit for setting up Pollution Checking Centre from the opposite party. Out of two sets one such set was purchased for checking the pollution of motor vehicles running on petrol and one set was purchased for checking the pollution of motor vehicles running on diesel. The complainant had contended that one set supplied by opposite party (OP) was found defective in working which was brought to the notice of OP but his grievance was not redressed. The parties led evidence. Arguments were advanced by them. The Commission, considering the entire gamut of facts and evidence led by the parties, pronounced the judgement on 10/05/2011 whereby the OP was directed to replace the defective set with a new one within a period of one month failing which it shall have to refund the amount of Rs.1,05,000/= along with interest at 8% per annum from the date of purchase i.e 24/08/2006 till the payment is made. Further loss of earning at Rs.5000/= per month was also directed to be reimbursed and payment made by OP to complainant from 17/07/2007. Litigation charges of Rs.5000/= have also been awarded.
Many such judgments have been passed by the Consumer Commission in the recent past. In the case titled Wani Carpets V/s United Insurance Company and another, the State Commission had held the complainant entitled to indemnification of loss to the tune of Rupees Thirty Four Lacs and Ninety Thousand with 9% interest thereon. Similarly in an appeal filed by a private airlines against the judgement of Divisional Consumer Forum, the Commission ordered refund of airfare with compensation of Rs.50,000/= for deficiency in service.
The Divisional Consumer Forum have also pronounced many judgments whereby the consumer rights of the people have been protected inter alia by ordering indemnification of loss suffered by them with interest thereon and compensation/ interest. Many cases have been decided in which the complainants had contended that they had suffered loss to their properties in the earthquake of 2005. Complainants of defective goods like refrigerators, washing machines, video cameras, TV sets etc. have got benefitted by way of either replacement of goods with compensation/interest or refund of cost price with compensation/interest. Many insured have been benefited through awards by the Consumer Fora against insurance companies and other service providers.
It is germane to mention here that awareness of one’s rights as a consumer is of prime importance. Law is there to be taken benefit of. No court fee is required to be paid. Procedure is quite simple. It’s time that we take full benefit of this special social legislation and end the exploitation of sellers of goods and service providers so that we usher in a new dawn of better services and fair trade practices. Jagoo grahak jagoo.
(The writer is a lawyer by profession, and a broadcaster)
Lastupdate on : Wed, 15 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 15 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 16 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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