Supreme Court: Showing concern over the deficiency of infrastructure in the adjudicatory fora constituted under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, CJ and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ gave the following directions:
- The Union Government shall for the purpose of ensuring uniformity in the exercise of the rule making power frame model rules for adoption by the state governments and also the model rules prescribing objective norms for implementing the provisions of Section 10(1)(b), Section 16(1)(b) and Section 20(1)(b) in regard to the appointment of members respectively of the District fora, State Commissions and National Commission, within four months and submit to this Court for its approval;
- The Union Government shall while framing the model rules have due regard to the formulation of objective norms for the assessment of the ability, knowledge and experience required to be possessed by the members of the respective fora in the domain areas referred to in the statutory provisions mentioned above. The model rules shall provide for the payment of salary, allowances and for the conditions of service of the members of the consumer fora commensurate with the nature of adjudicatory duties and the need to attract suitable talent to the adjudicating bodies. These rules shall be finalized upon due consultation with the President of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, within the period stipulated above;
- Upon the approval of the model rules by this Court, the state governments shall proceed to adopt the model rules by framing appropriate rules in the exercise of the rule making powers under Section 30 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986;
- The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission shall formulate regulations under Section 30A with the previous approval of the Central Government within a period of three months in order to effectuate the power of administrative control vested in the National Commission over the State Commissions under Section 24(B)(1)(iii) and in respect of the administrative control of the State Commissions over the District fora in terms of Section 24(B)(2) as explained in this Judgment to effectively implement the objects and purposes of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The Court had, on 14.01.2016, constituted a committee headed by Former Justice Arijit Pasayat to examine the condition prevalent in respect of the matter at hand. The Committee, in it’s enquiry report, had submitted that “the fora constituted under the enactment do not function as effectively as expected due to a poor organizational set up, grossly inadequate infrastructure, absence of adequate and trained manpower and lack of qualified members in the adjudicating bodies. Benches of the state and district fora sit, in many cases for barely two or three hours every day and remain non-functional for months due to a lack of coram. Orders are not enforced like other orders passed by the civil courts. The state governments have failed to respond to the suggestions of the Committee for streamlining the state of affairs.” [State of U.P. v. All U. P. Consumer Protection Bar Association, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1291, decided on 21.11.2016]