Consumer Courts in Gujarat adopt ‘Mediation’ mechanism vide Gujarat Consumer Protection (Mediation) Rules, 2022

On 21st March, 2022, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department of Gujarat notified Gujarat Consumer Protection (Mediation) Rules, 2022.

Under Chapter 5 of Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (Act), states Mediation, which is a step to enhance the already existing Redressal system under Consumer Laws.

Mediation laws involve the process wherein third person/party intends to interfere between contending parties with the aim to ‘settle’ their disputes. Recommendations made by third party/person ‘Mediator’ are suggestive in nature.

In case where no agreement is reached, the reasons stating so must be accordingly sent to the Commission.

Mediation Cell:

  • Gujarat Government has established Mediation cell under Section 74 of the Act that will be connecting each District and State Commissions of Gujarat.
  • Mediation Cell’ will ensure that the Mediators provide, from time to time, timely and effective means to resolve the disputes of consumers.
  • By Rule 3, ‘Mediation Cell’ will have panel of mediators elected by Commission to help parties reach to a mutually acceptable resolution of dispute.
  • This settlement, Rule 2 (e), is concluded by the course of proceedings which resolves the issues involved in any dispute pending before the Consumer Court.

Empanelment of Mediators:

Under Section 75 of Act, a panel of mediators are formed by Mediation Cell. This panel is created by selection committee headed by President.

The qualifications and eligibility is stated by Rule 4, includes retired District/ Sessions judges, Members of Consumer Commission, retired judicial officers, and others.

A member is disqualified as a mediator when-

  1. he is adjudged as insolvent
  2. criminal charges are levied on the person based on moral turpitude
  3. he is convicted by any criminal court
  4. disciplinary proceedings are being carried on against that person
  5. any person in his professional capacity is found to have committed or has been associated with any dispute in respect to consumer disputes

Re-empanelment of mediators:

When person is found, in any case by the Mediation Cell, has conducted his duties efficiently and is qualified to be re appointed as a member of the panel by the Selection Committee.

Mediation Proceedings:

  • After the convening of the Mediation, the mediator under Rule 12, has to ensure to initiate the Mediation proceedings, in the presence of parties/legal representatives to the issue in disputed matter.
  • The mediator shall be guided by the principles of natural justice and
    fair play but shall not be bound by the provisions of the Code of Civil
    Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) or the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (l of
    1872).
  • The parties shall provide all such information to the mediator as may
    be reasonably required by him for conducting the mediation
  • Mediator records the proceeding and attaches signature of parties/legal counsel of the parties under it.
  • With the forwarding letter the agreement so concluded is submitted with the Consumer Commission.
  • When in any case the no agreement is concluded between parties, the mediator will communicate with the reasons and conclusion he transpired after the proceedings to the Consumer Commission.
  • Communication under Rule 15, shall be made by the mediator to the Commission and the copies are sent to parties as well.

Matters not covered under mediation:

Those matters which involve proceedings related to criminal matter, offences such as fraud, forgery, non-compoundable offences, etc of like nature are not to be referred to Mediation. The list of offences is stated under Rule 18.

Judicial Infrastructure:

A mediation oriented statute will encourages autonomy with the parties to get their disputes resolved.

By Rule 20, parties to the dispute shall not initiate any arbitral or judicial proceeding when the parties have so expressed not to initiate any such proceedings.

 


*Shubhi Srivastava, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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