More than 1200 flood-related cases of the 2014 floods pending with the State Consumer Disputes Rederessal Commission (SCDRC) have received a set-back as Justice (Retd) B L Bhat who was appointed as the President of the Commission last month has tendered his resignation to join as the judicial member of the Armed Forces Tribunal.
This newspaper on (January 3, 2017) had carried a story in which Justice (Retd) Bhat sought appointment of two members of the Commission and threatened “to take extreme step” if government did not act. With his resignation, the SCDRC is completely defunct now.
In his resignation letter bearing number JKSCDRC/235 dated January 9, 2017, submitted to the state government through Secretary Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, a copy of which lies with Greater Kashmir, Justice (Retd) Bhat has said: “His Excellency the President of India has been pleased to appoint the undersigned as judicial member of the Armed Forces Tribunal and the undersigned has been posted to Srinagar (Jammu) bench of the Tribunal.” The resignation letter adds: “In view of such appointment the undersigned does not want to continue as President J&K SCDRC, and opts for appointment as judicial member in the Armed Forces Tribunal. The undersigned accordingly tenders resignation with immediate effect.”
To mention, 1200 flood-related consumer-related cases from 2014 floods have piled up at the SCDRC which was headless for more than a year after Justice (Retd) B A Kirmani was appointed as member of the State Accountability Commission in October 2015. One of the Consumer Commission members Shabnam Munshi completed her term in January 2016.
Pertinently, with the retirement of D K Kapoor retired judge and the only member last month, the SCDRC was left with no members thus adding to the miseries of consumers across the state especially the flood victims who have been making rounds of the commission in Srinagar.
Flood victims who have been running from pillar to post seeking justice are irked after having received repeated dates for hearings at the commission office in Srinagar throughout last year.
Senior Vice Chairman, Kashmir Economic Forum (KEF) Jan Muhammad Kaul said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had recently assured a delegation which included city-based traders and flood victims to make the Consumer Commission fully functional but to no avail.
“We had met the CM recently and she assured us that the commission will be made functional in one week time. We informed the CM that traders and other flood victims had not received sufficient amount of the claims from the insurance companies. It is high time for government to realize the fate of flood victims as it has been more than three years since we made the claims with respective insurance companies. We are stuck in a catch-22 situation between insurance companies and the commission,” Kaul said. He said, “Making flood sufferers wait for such a long time reflects the seriousness of government with regard to flood victims,” Kaul added.
In March 2016, Jammu and Kashmir High Court had directed the government to make the SCDRC functional within three weeks by appointing its President and a member. Hearing a related Public Interest litigation, a division bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey had directed the government through Chief Secretary to take immediate steps for filling up the two vacancies of the commission. While the Justice (Retd) B L Bhat was appointed as President last month, the Srinagar-based member of the Commission was not appointed.