We, as a people take pride in our tradition and culture that teaches us to respect our elders. But that culture is often not reflected in the way service providers treat senior citizens. In fact some of the cases that have come up before the consumer courts have shown that service providers single out the elderly for shabby treatment.
Sixty-four years old Shipra Sengupta, for example, was harassed and detained overnight at the Chennai railway station on her arrival from Kolkata, on charges of traveling on a concession ticket meant for senior citizens.
The official refused to acknowledge the proof of age that she showed and forced her to pay penalty imposed on ticket less travelers. (Transfer Petition No 4 of 2004) She had to eventually seek the help of the consumer court for justice.
Another senior citizen, B.L.Sood was humiliated and thrown out of a DTC bus for traveling ‘without ticket’. His repeated pleas that he had just entered the bus and was yet to reach the conductor fell on deaf ears.
Reacting strongly to such behaviour, the highest consumer court warned that such rude and uncivilised behaviour towards a consumer was unacceptable and would be treated as deficiency in service and consumers at the receiving end would get compensation.
The courts would take an even more serious view of such behaviour when the victim happens to be a senior citizen (B.L.Sood Vs DTC (RP No 115 of 2006) , the commission said.
I quote these two cases in response to several letters received from senior citizens and to reiterate that they can go to the consumer court for any injustice meted out to them by service providers or manufacturers.
Consumer courts will certainly not take kindly to it.
Second, cases filed by senior citizens have to be taken up and resolved on a priority basis and, therefore, make sure that this is followed.
Here is a question from 72-year-old S.R.Mittal from Vasant Kunj.
We senior citizens are singled out for harassment by the police. They tow-away our cars, while many others parked at the same spot are left untouched. This problem of selective towing of cars has become so acute that it is impossible for senior citizens like me to go to the bank or the market without facing such harassment from the police. How do we resolve this issue?
On another matter, I have filed a case before a District Forum, but even after a year, the case is yet to be heard. What can be done to expedite the case and ensure that one gets justice quickly?
As for the first part of your question, I would suggest that a group of senior citizens from your colony meet some senior police officers and explain the problem. I am sure it could be resolved amicably.
It might even be a good idea for the police to issue special car tags to senior citizens and ensure that they are not harassed.
As far as the second issue is concerned, I would suggest that you provide proof of your age and give an application, demanding expeditious hearing of your case on a priority basis.
I do not know if you are aware of this, but as per 26 (6) of the Consumer Protection Regulations, 2005, the cases filed by or against senior citizens, physically challenged persons, widows and persons suffering from ailments should be listed and disposed of on a priority basis.
So, you have every right to demand that your case be heard and resolved quickly. If the regulation is being violated, kindly complain to the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and also the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
Do you have any problems? Send in your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org