Consumer rights are "important rights" and non-manning of posts and inadequate infrastructure in district and state consumer commissions across the country would deprive the citizens of redressal of their grievances, the Supreme Court has said.
The apex court said this while hearing a plea that has raised the issue of alleged inaction by governments in appointing the president, members and staff in the district and state consumer disputes redressal commissions and the lack of adequate infrastructure to run these fora.
A bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy said the issue raised in the plea is important but the petitioner, a law student, has filed a "very sketchy petition" and it does not show proper ground work.
"We have given a thought to the matter and consider it too important an issue to be thrown out because of the laxity in collection of material and placing the same before us and thus, consider it appropriate that the same should be converted into a suo motu proceeding to enquire into the issue placed before us," the bench said.
The top court appointed senior advocate Gopal Shankaranarayan and lawyer Aaditya Narain as amicus curiae to assist it in the matter.
"We expect them to obtain the requisite material, analyse the same and facilitate the data to be placed before us and thus, consider it appropriate to issue notices to all the respondents before us, who would be able to show as to how many posts are occupied, how many are vacant and what is the nature of infrastructure which has been made available as consumer rights are important rights and non-manning of posts and inadequate infrastructure would deprive citizens of a redressal of the grievances," the bench said in its order passed earlier this week.
The apex court has posted the matter for hearing on February 22.
The plea filed before the top court has sought directions to the Centre, states and Union territories to fill up the vacant posts of presidents and members in the consumer commissions, saying the "inaction" in making the appointments is causing pendency of cases and has led to violation of the right to a speedy disposal of cases.
The petition, while alleging that directions passed by various high courts regarding filling up of vacancies in district and state consumer commissions have been "ignored" by the authorities concerned, has said there is a lack of proper infrastructure to run these commissions smoothly.
It has also sought a direction to the authorities concerned to provide proper infrastructure and staff to the consumer commissions and file a detailed report regarding this before the top court.