For failing to comply with the direction of state consumer disputes redressal commission, Chandigarh Housing Board’s (CHB) chief executive officer and secretary was awarded three-month jail.
The district consumer disputes redressal forum, Chandigarh, on June 10, while disposing of execution application filed under section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act by Raj Kumar, a resident of Sector 45-C, Chandigarh, awarded the sentence, and also imposed 5,000 fine each on CHB’s chief executive officer (CEO) Rodney L Ralte and secretary Mandeep Kaur.
“Had the officers at the helm of the affairs been vigilant, the matter could be sorted out earlier because it involves the execution of an order and not a policy decision regarding conversion of rates. Since CHB’s CEO Rodney L Ralte and secretary Mandeep Kaur have failed to or omitted to comply with the order passed by consumer commission, they are held guilty for the offence punishable under section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act and are convicted accordingly,” read the order dated June 10.
Kumar had approached the consumer forum with application under section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act for execution of the order dated January 11, 2013, passed by the state consumer disputes redressal commission, Chandigarh.
Consumer commission in January 2013 had directed CHB to convert dwelling unit number 2064, Sector 45-C, Chandigarh, from lease hold basis to free hold basis along with paying 10,000 and 5,000 as costs of litigation to Kumar.
After CHB failed to convert the dwelling to free hold, Kumar filed execution application seeking criminal action against the officials for failing to honor the directives. He had even removed the violation pointed out by the CHB.
In reply, the housing board claimed that the directions for conversion of dwelling unit from lease hold to free hold were to be issued by the Chandigarh administration and CHB, on their own, were unable to convert the said property unless fresh instructions are received from the UT authorities.
Unimpressed by the submissions, the consumer forum held, “We feel that once an order had been passed by consumer commission, CHB was not required to wait for the revision of the rate for conversion by the Chandigarh administration. At any rate, if there was some difficulty in enforcing the order, CHB should have gone in appeal. CHB had also failed to produce any stay order from Punajb and Haryana high court in accordance with which, the proceedings of the present execution application can be stayed by us. It was for CHB to take urgent action for compliance of the order but unfortunately they have been sitting over the matter leisurely and proceeding the matter like other files.”
Welcoming the order, Pankaj Chandgothia, president, Consumer Courts Bar Association, said, “Such conviction will help enforce the authority of consumer courts. Government officers will now not treat the orders casually. No one is immune from the coercive process of consumer courts. Government officer is not above the law.”