18 Months On Consumer Commission Headless, Consumers Fume

SRINAGAR: Eighteen months on, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC ) continues to remain headless as state government is yet to appoint the President at the commission, leaving consumers fuming.

On March 06, 2016, High court directed the state government to make the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission functional within three weeks by appointing its chairman and a member but in clear contravention of High Courts direction, the state government is yet to appoint the president and other members.

According to reports, thousands of cases, especially the cases of 2014- floods, are piled-up at the commission because the office lies defunct.

The defunct commission has been operating without a president from past eighteen months making consumers to run from pillar to post to get their claims settled.

In 2016, President Kashmir Bar Association, Mian Abdul Qayoom, made a submission before High Court that SCDRC was not functional and more than1200 cases pertaining to the flood sufferers alone besides hundreds others were waiting disposal.

In response to the submission the court observed that the executive wing of the government is duty bound to provide redressal mechanism to the people for which legislative enactment is already in force.

State Govt did act and appointed Justice (Rtd) B A Kirmani as SCDRC head but within months he was appointed as member of the State Accountability Commission, in 2016 leaving the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission headless.

Shabnum Munshi, a member of the body, completed her term on January 11, 2016.

In the same year a retired Judge, Justice B. L. Bhat was appointed as President. Mr Bhat stayed there only for 22 days and resigned.

The consumers are of the view that many High Court judges have retired since 2015 but the State Govt has failed to identify one to head the commission, showing total disregard for the consumers especially the flood victims.

Notably, only a retired judge of the High Court can be appointed as head of the commission.

“20-25 cases are coming in the office every day and the old ones still remain unaddressed, said an official of the Commission wishing anonymity.

An advocate of the consumer court said, “Our clients are undergoing a agonizing wait as their cases are not being heard since 2015 due to the non-availability of the president and other members”.

“By leaving SCDRC headless, the state government is defeating the purpose of the Consumer Protection Act. This assumes graver proportions as a large number of people affected by the September 2014 devastating floods have cases pending before the State Consumer Commission,” she told Kashmir Observer.

“The headless SCDRC has been adding to our woes. We have been visiting the office and eagerly waiting for disposal of our cases,” said a group of aggrieved consumers.

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