Wednesday, October 27, 2021
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Why Consumer Forums not established?


I n the economic ideology of consumerism, a consumer who is generally a customer first, carriers lot of importance and relevance in respect of generating economic activities and moulding and shaping demand and supply segments. We recently celebrated Gandhi Jayanti across the country and even in many foreign countries too on October 2 and must remember Bapu’s immortal words about a customer when he said,” a customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us, we are dependent on him; he is not an interruption of our work, he is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider of our business, he is part of it, we are not doing him a favour by serving him but he is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.” We also know that it is generally held over the time that the consumer or the customer is the king but the question is are the rights of a consumer protected in Jammu and Kashmir? Is there a mechanism in place to supervise, regulate, protect, compensate and even indemnify an aggrieved consumer? Do we not hear a lot of hype about the protection of the interests and rights of the consumer and the popular slogan, “Jago Grahak Jago”? Otherwise when there being provision under the relevant Act to entertain consumers’ complaints at the UT level Commission up to the consideration involved ranging up to Rs.10 crore, not to speak of at District level Consumer Forums for the consideration up to Rs.20 lakh, at the moment appeared only on the papers instead of otherwise which requires prompt and pointed attention of the concerned authorities in the Government. It is really surprising that whatever arrangement was there in place to protect the interests of a consumer in the shape of various Commissions in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, they were wound up following the implementation of J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 and thereafter the Government perhaps forgot that such Commissions had to be reorganised and made functional as during the absence of such platforms available to consumers, it is unlikely that none of them would encounter any difficulty whereby one’s rights as a consumer would never be impinged or affected. The moot question, therefore, is where would an aggrieved consumer go to have its grievance redressed when there are neither District Consumer Forums nor Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (CDRC) around. A consumer, in the ordinary course of business, otherwise in numerous instances, continues to be disadvantaged in many ways in disguised form like buying adulterated stuff, spurious or sub-standard item, stale or expired commodity, over priced item with MRP erased or with code bars appearing all Greek to him, no receipt etc and more importantly, a defective piece with no satisfactory after sales services or one with manufacturing defects which under Consumer Protection Act, he is entitled to get adequate relief for by way of compensation and penalty imposed on the seller under the various provisions of the Acts passed by the Parliament. In fact, due to the absence of the requisite platforms, the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act are not enforced as a result of the sort of indifferent approach from the concerned authorities in keeping the concerned platforms of such importance dormant. It is again beyond comprehension that despite exercises made by the concerned department early this year for selection of the President and the members on the Consumer Forums and Commissions, nothing concrete having so far been done denotes only the negation of the importance of the subject that being concerning the rights and protection of the consumer. In this, the role and the eagerness of addressing the issue by the Department of Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs is completely unfair in that even it is not made known by it as to why so much of delay is caused and why non sharing of any development in the matter likely to take place in the near future is what is gathered from their response to various queries in respect of the subject from the said department.

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