Srinagar, Feb 26: In a positive development, the Jammu and Kashmir government has ordered the constitution of 10 district Consumer Redressal Commissions in the Union Territory.
By virtue of the notification issued by the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs department 10 district redressal commissions have been established and their jurisdiction also defined.
As per the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act passed by the Parliament, district Consumer Redressal Commissions are established across India for timely and effective settlement of consumers’ disputes.
This law became applicable to Jammu and Kashmir following reorganisation of the erstwhile state of J&K into two UTs with effect from October 30, 2019, and with the repealing of the Jammu and Kashmir Consumer Protection Act, 1987.
Section 28 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 states: “Every State and Union Territory shall, by notification, establish a District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, to be known as the District Commission, in each district and each District Commission shall consist of a President and not less than two members”.
District commissions have been established in Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Doda, Jammu, Kathua, Kupwara, Rajouri, Srinagar, and Udhampur.
Out of 10 district commissions, 8 district commissions have been asssigned additional jurisdiction districts in terms of section 2. The district commissions which have additional jurisdiction are Anantnag having jurisdiction to hear complaints of consumers from Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam jurisdiction. Baramulla has Bandipora additional jurisdiction.
Doda district consumer commission will have Kishtwar district as additional jurisdiction, Kathua has addadditionalitiona jurisdiction of Samba, Rajouri has Poonch, Srinagar has Ganderal district additional jurisdiction, while Udhampur has Reasi and Ramban additional jurisdiction.
Only Jammu and Budgam district commissions will have no additional jurisdiction districts.
The importance of the District Commission can be gauged from the fact that it will have the same powers as are vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
Moreover, every proceeding before the District Commission shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code and the District Commission shall be deemed to be a Criminal Court for the purposes of Section 195 and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 promulgates a three-tier quasi-judicial mechanism for redressal of consumer disputes namely district commissions, state commissions and national commission. The Act also stipulates the pecuniary jurisdiction of each tier of consumer commission. As per the existing provisions of the Act, District Commissions have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where value of the goods or services paid as consideration does not exceed one crore rupees. State Commissions have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where value of the goods or services paid as consideration, exceeds 1 crore rupees, but does not exceed 10 crore rupees and National Commission has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where value of goods or services paid as consideration exceeds 10 crore rupees.
After the Act came into force, it was observed that the existing provisions relating to pecuniary jurisdiction of consumer commissions were leading to cases which could earlier be filed in National Commission to be filed in State Commissions and cases which could earlier be filed in State Commissions to be filed in District Commissions. This caused a significant increase in the workload of District Commissions, leading to rise in pendency and delay in disposal of cases, defeating the very object of securing speedy redressal to consumers as envisaged under the Act.
It may be mentioned that the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 stipulates that every complaint shall be disposed of as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall be made to decide the complaint within a period of 3 months from the date of receipt of notice by opposite party where the complaint does not require analysis or testing of commodities and within 5 months if it requires analysis or testing of commodities.
The Act also provides consumers the option of filing complaint electronically. To facilitate consumers in filing their complaint online, the Central Government has set up the E-Daakhil Portal, which provides a hassle-free, speedy and inexpensive facility to consumers around the country to conveniently approach the relevant consumer forum, dispensing the need to travel and be physically present to file their grievance. E-Daakhil has many features like e-Notice, case document download link & VC hearing link, filing written response by opposite party, filing rejoinder by complainant and alerts via SMS/Email.