Consumer is the king and he should be treated as one, says Minister Piyush Goyal
NEW DELHI, June 20 (The CONNECT) - Emphasising on speedy and affordable justice by Consumer Commissions across the country, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs Piyush Goyal today mooted the generous use of digital media such as WhatsApp and e-mail.
Goyal said the digital media could be utilised to issue notices, replies and other documents. He was inaugurating the national workshop on ‘Effective and Speedy Consumer Disputes Redressal’ that was attended by the President and Members of National Commission, the state and district commission heads and members, apart from the various State Principal Secretaries.
Goyal pointed out that delayed disposal and huge pendency remains a major challenge towards redressal of Consumer Grievances. As per the data on 14th June 2022, the pendency in the National Commission was 22,608; State Commission was 1,49,608 and District Commission was 4,66,034. He said that those seeking repeated adjournments should also be dealt with. He suggested that pendency can be reduced by bunching of similar cases and disposing it together.
Highlighting ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ he expressed that like e-filing, importance should also be provided for e-disposal. He applauded the progress of e –daakhil portal which enables online filing of consumer complaints and urged the authorities to facilitate virtual hearings in all cases.
Stressing on the importance of digitization of all documents that are required to be submitted, Goyal suggested to all the Commissions to implement e-documentation and facilitate all documents and process to be online mode to enable hassle free procedure for consumers. He emphasized that simplification of process leads to more effective and affordable justice system.
He said that the Consumer Commissions should religiously follow the timelines as per the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 for expediting disposal of cases. The commissions should be able to dispose cases within 3-5 months of filing.
He said that to provide a faster and amicable mode of settlement of consumer disputes, the new Act (Consumer Protection Act 2019 that came in to effect from July 2020) also introduces reference of consumer disputes to Mediation, with the consent of both parties. This will not only save time and money involved in litigating the dispute, it will also help in reducing the pendency of cases.
The Government is also taking proactive steps in encouraging the use of electronic mediation (e-mediation). This will help in ensuring that location and distance do not act as barriers whenever parties wish to opt for mediation for the settlement of cases. So far 153 District Commissions, 11 State Commissions along with National Commission have established mediation centres. I would like to request all States / UTs to expedite setting up mediation centres and appointing mediators.
To expedite the disposal of cases, the Act of 2019 provides that the District Commission shall send a copy of the admitted complaint within 21 days from the date of its admission to the opposite party. The opposite has to furnish its reply within 30 days which may be extended by a maximum of 15 days. These initiatives are expected to reduce the pendency and achieve speedier redressal of cases. It is expected from the Commissions that they will work with their full potential in the interest of consumers and dispose of the oldest pending cases on priority.
He pressed that Consumer is King and Consumer is the center of all the activities of Government of India. Therefore, the State Commissions should strengthen infrastructure for which Centre will extend support. It should be the moral responsibility of everyone working in Consumer Commissions to consider their work not just as any job but as a service towards citizens, Goyal added.
President NCDRC Justice R.K Agrawal in his keynote address highlighted that the right to speedy justice is enshrined in our constitution and has been universally recognized and iterated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that timely justice and speedy trail is a facet of right to life under the constitution.