Justice delayed is justice denied, they say. Unfortunately, the delay in providing justice has also seeped to the consumer grievance redressal, with the increasing number of pending cases before the state consumer disputes redressal commission and district consumer disputes redressal commission.
In a written reply in the LokSabha, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution, says, “Vacancy of presidents and members in consumer commissions across the country and frequent adjournments are some of the major reasons for pendency of the cases.”
PV Midhun Reddy, a member of Parliament (MP), has raised the question about the number of pending cases before consumer commissions across the country and the reason for the pendency.
Information provided by the minister shows there were 48.7K (thousand) cases filed before the state consumer grievances commissions. Out of these, 37.6K cases were disposed leaving 112,278 cases pending.
Similarly, 1.92mn (million) cases were filed in district consumer commissions from across the country, out of which 1.49mn were disposed. At present, there are 429,562 cases pending before the district commissions, information shared by the minister shows.
Among the state commissions, the highest number of cases at 84,850 was filed in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Maharashtra at 72,885 cases. However, Maharashtra has the maximum number of cases (25,989) pending, while in UP it is at 20,633.
However, the situation is reversed when it comes to cases filed, disposed and pending in the district commissions. In Maharashtra, 26.2K cases were filed, out of which 21.5K were disposed, leaving 47,521 cases pending. In UP, 18.8K cases were filed; out of these, 10.7K cases were disposed, leaving 80,413 cases pending.
According to Mr Choubey, the minister of state, the new Consumer Protection Act provides for establishing mediation cells within the premises of consumer commissions to work as an alternate dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism. If there is a scope for early settlement and parties agree to it, the consumer commission can refer cases to these mediation cells, he added.
“Under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act it is the responsibility of the state governments to fill up the vacancies of the president and members in the state commissions and district commissions. The Union government has been continuously taking up with the state governments and Union territory (UT) administrations for expeditious filling up of the existing and anticipated vacancies of president and member of the consumer commissions,” the minister says. Last month, the department of consumer affairs, along with the National Legal Service Authority, participated in the National LokAdalat, where pending consumer cases having the element of mutual settlement were identified and, with the consent of parties, were referred for settlement. Out of 19,497 cases listed for settlement, 5,930 cases were settled on a single day during the LokAdalat.