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Soon, sue neighbourhood traders sans the legal rut

Many consumers don't approach courts for small disputes fearing the long-drawn legal process and drainage of huge financial resources resulting in the Consumer Protection Act not having its impact, reports Chetan Chauhan.

delhi Updated: Dec 23, 2012 23:23 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Your nearest consumer court will provide you relief from petty cheating you may face from a local shopkeeper or a service provider without going for a lengthy legal process.

Many consumers don't approach courts for small disputes fearing the long-drawn legal process and drainage of huge financial resources resulting in the Consumer Protection Act not having its impact.

Some, who approach, find consumer forums taking months to redress a small complaint because of huge pendency.

The disposal of the cases has been poor in eight states such as Assam, Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh primarily because of not enough members in the consumer forums in these states.

The consumer affairs ministry has decided to set up a mediation centre, similar to a Lok Adalat, in each district of India under direct supervision of the district consumer forum.

"It will also reduce burden on the consumer courts and will help in faster disposal of cases," a senior ministry official explained.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee has asked the ministry to expedite the proposal and make necessary amendment in the Consumer Protection Act to lessen the burden on consumer forums and ensure that complaints are disposed of within the mandatory 90 days of their acceptance.

A ministry's proposal in this regard has been accepted by the Planning Commission for incorporation in the 12th five-year plan.

A senior plan panel official said the proposal could also streamline the functioning of the district consumer forums.

The ministry has also decided to provide online facility to consumers to file complaints with the consumer forums at the earliest.

Most of the consumer forums in cities are computerized and filing of online complaints there would start soon.

Things would also become easier once the ministry introduces amendments to the Consumer Protection Bill based on the latest recommendations of the standing committee.