Official apathy has once again forced the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) to remain a defunct body with several pending cases awaiting hearings. After being headless for more than a year, Justice (rtd) B L Bhat was recently appointed as the
President of the Commission but its two members are yet to be appointed, hampering day-to-day work especially hearings of victims of 2014 floods.
Speaking to Greater Kashmir, the recently appointed President of the Commission said he has asked state government to immediately appoint the members so that hearings of pending cases is expedited. Justice (rtd) Bhat said hearing of flood-related cases is not possible till appointment of the two members does not happen.
"I will not be in a position to say anything on flood related cases until the Commission sittings take place in Srinagar. Our quorum is not complete which is proving to be a hurdle in conducting these hearings," he said.
To mention, more than 1200 flood-related consumer cases have piled up at the Commission as it was headless for more than a year after its former President Justice (rtd) B AKirmani was appointed as member of the State Accountability Commission in October 2015. One of the members ShabnamMunshi completed her term in January 2015 while as the Jammu-based member D K Kapoor has also completed his term.
Taking a strong note of the defunct commission, Justice (rtd) Bhat said he has already raised the issue of appointment of members. He expressed serious concern on the absence of members. "There is one member to be appointed for Jammu and one in Srinagar. I am quite unaware of the status of these appointments as it has to be a government decision as this is a statutory and a judicial body. I have been impressing to complete the quorum or else not let me not take extreme step if members are not appointed," he said.
According to Justice (rtd) Bhat members should have been appointed at the time of appointing the President. " It is an irony that when there were members present in the Commission they was no president and when there is a president there are no members," he said.
Meanwhile, in the absence of the members, the clerical staff at the Commission in Srinagar has been providing dates for hearings to the flood affected people who have been making rounds of the commission for the hearings but have been left disappointed.
"I received a hearing date for May but the hearing never took place. My insurance claim for a shop damaged by floods has not been addressed properly by an insurance company. There were non-flood claims which I know of that were settled within no time but my claim is still pending. I have visited the Consumer Commission several times in last year but was always turned back," said a flood victim.