Hefty fines to be levied for flouting consumer court orders

Hefty fines to be levied for flouting consumer court orders

Any organisation found guilty of deficient service will be slapped a hefty fine if it defaults on implementing punitive orders of the consumer courts.

This is among the fresh provisions in the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill 2011, introduced in the Lok Sabha recently and now before the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The amendment is aimed at speedier redressal of consumer grievances by overcoming several shortcomings in implementing the existing Consumer Protection Act.

According to the new provisions, if any organisation fails to comply with the order of the district consumer grievance redressal forum or the state and national consumer commissions, it has to pay Rs 500 or one and a half per cent of the value of the compensation amount awarded, whichever is higher, for each day and till it implements the order. This fine will be in addition to payment of the awarded amount.

The heavy fine provision was included following complaints from aggrieved consumers that many firms failed to implement the consumer courts’ orders quickly. 

The new bill also provides for filing a complaint by electronic form to the district forum.

The admissibility of such complaints would have to be decided within 28 days from the date of the complaint.

If the district forum fails to decide the admissibility of a complaint within the stipulated time, it will be considered admitted except where the complainant has failed to appear before the district forum on the day of hearing without any reasonable grounds.

The amended bill seeks to rationalise the qualifications and procedure of selection of presidents and members of the National Commission, State Commission and District Forum. Accordingly, if members of Commission or Forum continue to be office bearer of any political party even after appointment to the forum or commission, they shall face disqualification.

The minimum age for  membership of the state commission has been raised to 45 years and in case of National Commission, to 55 years.

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