States can set up more consumer forums

States can set up more consumer forums

 A state government may establish an additional consumer forum in a district if the pendency of complaints at the start of the year went beyond 1,500.

More than one forum can be set up in a district also if the average number of complaints filed in the last three years exceeded 1,000, according to model rules prepared under the Consumer Protection Act.

The new rules also stated that the president of a consumer forum shall be appointed among the serving district judges but it shall not be made without the concurrence of the high court. The appointment could be on a part-time basis if the number of complaints did not exceed 500 at the start of the year.

The Consumer Protection (appointment, salary, allowances and conditions of service of the president and members of the state commission and district forum) Rules, 2017, also proposed conducting a written test and interview for the candidates other than those having judicial backgrounds and those having served in central and state governments.

About five lakh cases were pending disposal in various fora under the Consumer Protection Act across the country, while as many as 400 posts were lying vacant over there.

In January, this year, the Supreme Court has asked the central government to frame comprehensive model rules for appointment in consumer fora.

In a verdict on November 21, 2016, the top court had taken serious note of infrastructural inadequacy and other problems faced by consumer courts and passed a slew of directions for a “systemic overhaul” so that the Consumer Protection Act does not become a “dead letter”.