Consumer activists and lawyers practicing in consumer forums across Maharashtra have opposed a new checklist issued by the Maharashtra State Consumer Commission. They feel that the technicalities involved in the scrutiny list, which contains 45 items to be checked before a district forum accepts a complaint, will make access to consumer forums more difficult.
The checklist includes items such as the kind of paper to be used for filing complaint, margins to be left on sides, and space to be left between the lines. It also makes it mandatory for the complainant to mention his age, occupation, and all communication details including a complete addresses, email addresses of both the complainant and the opposite party against whom the complaint is filed.
In any of the conditions are not complied with, the complaint would remain under objection, which would be required to be removed within 15 days. If the objections are not removed, the complaint would not be accepted, said a source in the State Consumer Commission on condition of anonymity.
Consumer activists and lawyers feel the scrutiny list would make it cumbersome for consumers to access the forums and seek redressal of their grievances without the aid of an advocate or an NGO, and is likely to make the filing process a complicated one.
"The checklist issued by the commission defeats the very purpose of the statute [The Consumer Protection Act]," said Shirish Deshpande, president of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP). "The law intends to provide simple, speedy and less expensive redressal of consumer complaints. However, this instructions list is contrary to the spirit of the legislation, and must be withdrawn," he added.
Deshpande said MGP is planning to initiate action for withdrawal of the checklist. "If such a list has to be issued, it should be published by way of rules under the Act," he said.