Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Obnoxious functioning of consumer fora/commissions- letter to minister

File: Comp/minofcs ker-cdrfpkd n kscdrc-080111                                                    08 Jan 2011

Shri. C. Divakaran
Food & Civil Supplies, Consumer Protection etc
Room No. 131, Second Floor, North Block
Govt. Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram-1


1.      This is to bring to your notice the most obnoxious functioning of the District Consumer Disputes Redresal Forum, Palakkad and Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Thiruvananthapuram.

2.      Gist of Complaints:

2.1.DCDRF , Palakkad.

2.1.1.      It holds sittings for only less than an hour per day. The average number of cases (all types) listed is around 12 of which almost 12, if not all, are adjourned in less than 30 minutes.
2.1.2.      The sittings begin irregularly and have started even at 11.15 am depending on the arrival of the President!
2.1.3.      Though the CPA has laid down a limit of 90 days for the disposal of the complaint, this is invariably not followed.
2.1.4.      Unwarranted adjournments without recording even any reasons!
2.1.5.      The provisions of the CPA  is willfully subverted to favour clients represented by advocates. A case in point is the refusal to compensate the party aggrieved by unwarranted adjournments. (This is in blatant violation of Sec 11 of the Consumer Protection Regulations, 2005)
2.1.6.      Not recording the docket truthfully.

2.2.KSCDRC, Thiruvananthapuram.

2.2.1.      While all the complaints listed against the district forum may be fully or partly applicable to the KSCDRC the exact position can be easily ascertained from a cursory look at their records.
2.2.2.      The orders of the Commission are , to say the least, an insult to common sense and tantamounts to subversion of justice.

  1. Details of the complaints.

3.1.DCDRF, Palakkad.

3.1.1.      The veracity of the complaint at para 2.1.1. can easily be established by verifying the records of the DCRDF.
3.1.2.      The compliant at para 2.1.2. is from personal experience and can be ascertained by carrying our a survey amoung the complainants/respondents who have attended the hearings at the DCDRF. It would be prudent to carryout the survey amoung those whose cases have been disposed off and logically it should be carried out amoung the complainants/respondents of the last 100 cases disposed off.
3.1.3.       The veracity of the complaint at para 2.1.3. can easily be established by verifying the records of the DCRDF. As per information received under the RTI Act, as on 31/5/2010, there were 109 cases pending for more than 3 months but less than 1 year, 37 cases pending for more than 1 year but less than 3 years and 15 cases pending for more than 3 years! In OP 282/99 (OP No 85/95 transferred from Malappuram), the opposite party had produced interim stay order on 28/10/99 and the stay was vacated only  8/6/2005 but through out this period the case was listed 58 times and adjourned! It was finally posted for orders on 6/7/07 but was opened for re-hearing suo moto on 15/2/08 and went on an adjournment spree from 3/3/08 to 31/5/2010. During this spree it was adjourned 17 times, including 5 times for want of members/President and 10 times for orders only!
3.1.4.      The veracity of the complaint at para 2.1.4. has been partly brought out in para 3.1.3 above. Also. in CC No 171/99, which had been remitted to the DCDRF by the KSCDRC after almost 8 years on 31/10/2006 with the specific direction to just consider the question of the sum awarded earlier being a genuine pr-estimate of damages or penalty and also whether the complainant is  entitled to claim compenation for mental agony, the case was adjourned many times without adequate reasons or for fraudulent reasons before being disposed off after 11 months! In fact on the first date of hearing, on 20/2/2008, the reason given for adjournment is ‘for want of staff‘. During the 2nd date, that is 25/3/2008, the reason given is ‘for want of quorum‘. However, inspection of the attendence registers for relevant dates show that both the reasons are false.
3.1.5.      The veracity of the complaint at para 2.1.5. can be verified from the case file in OP 171/99. In fact, even in executing the order, the DCDRF had defaulted as the last instalment of the award has not be paid to me, the complainant. I have been demanding that the amount should be paid by DD payable at Palakkad and sent to my home address or if it has to be collected from the DCRDF, the cost of adjournment @Rs 500/- per adjournment has to be paid. (Right now, I am not mentioning anything about the gross unfairness of the order itself whereby a refund of Rs 13,125/- paid and a compensation of Rs 2500/- awarded by the DCRDF in 1999 was reduced to refund of Rs 8000/- and compensation of Rs 2000/- only after a painstaking and costly pursuit of the matter for 8 years in the KSCDRC which alone had cost me, the complainant, not less than Rs 25,000/-!)
3.1.6.      The veracity of the complaint at para 2.1.6 has been brought out illustratively in para 3.1.4 above.

3.2.KSCDRC, Thiruvananthapuram.

3.2.1.      Some examples of the grossest wayward functioning of teh KSCDRC can be seen in the following cases: CC 171/99, the judgement debtor had approached the KSCDRC with four cases: IA 325/2000, A 384/2000, RP 20/2000 and RP 71/2003. I have not yet received the orders in RP 71/2003. A 384/2000, the order is dated 30/9/2006 and there was a direction to appear before the DCDRF on 31/10/2006 but its copy was not made available to me till Mar 2007! (Date of posting- 9/3/07!). The order in RP 20/2000 is dated 18/10/2006 but was posted on 8/12/2006. It also mentioned about the disposal of A 384/2000 and the direction to appear before the DCDRF on 31/10/2006. Since both the orders were received after 31/10/2006, an application was submitted to the DCDRF seeking the date of receipt of the orders by them. But on 6/1/2007 they confirmed, through their letter No C1/133/06, that they had not received the copy of the orders till then. Finally, it was on 31/1/08 that the DCDRF intimated the disposal of the A 384/2000 by the KSCDRC and scheduled the 1st hearing of the remitted CC on 20/2/2008! decisions of the KSCDRC are not merely a mockery of justice and insult to comon sense but gross subversion of the justice delivery system. The following docuemnts are attached as proof:      Notice for hearing in IA 568/08 in FA 210/2008 and      Orders in FA 210/2008

Needless to say the order which says that no application for condoning the delay has been submitted can only be a fraud when as per their own records they have issued a notice for a hearing on that very application (IA or Interim Appeal is their jargon!)

4.      I request you to take necessary action to bring the criminals to book. I understand that there are provisions in the IPC to book these fraudsters in offices of authority. I am sure you will appreciate the public interest in this matter. For the records, the matter of this fraud by the KSCDRC was taken up with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. But their reply was a perfunctory advice to submit an appeal against the order of the KSCDRC. This was not agreeable because it is perceived as yet another way to bypass the complaint about the fraud perpetuted by the KSCDRC itself.

5.      Looking forward to a reply indicating the action taken on this complaint. Forwarding this complaint to the very accused for disposal at their end will not do. As a citizen of this democracy, I, amoung others, look forward to our representatives in the the law making bodies and those amoung them who are in executive offices to look into these kind of serious complaints and do the needful to rectify them and prevent their recurrence.

Yours truly

(P M Ravindran)

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