J&K Appellants Have Nowhere To Go

2 Years On, Revival Of Consumer Commission Nowhere In Sight

Srinagar- Two years after the government of India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and introduced the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) of the erstwhile state is yet to be revived, leaving people in a lurch.

As a quasi-judicial body meant to ensure the protection of consumer rights, SCDRC—which came under Food, Civil Supplies, and Consumer Affairs Department (FCSCA)—was dissolved along with eight other commissions when the Government of India introduced the J&K Reorganization Act 2019, soon after abrogating erstwhile state’s special status.

Notably, as of August 2019, there were about 6000 consumer cases pending in Jammu and Kashmir for resolution since the closing of the Commission.

“By not reviving the SCDRC in J&K, the Government is aiding traders, service providers and insurance companies who are in the business of exploiting innocent citizens by selling defective products, giving unsatisfactory service and refusing to pay the relief amounts.” Mohammed Amin, who was fighting his flood relief case in the commission before it was closed, told Kashmir Observer on Saturday.

In March this year, the J&K Administration had claimed that it had started the process for the revival of the Consumer Commission. To begin with, the government had also claimed that it had set the ball rolling for appointment of the body’s President and four members.

But, for the erstwhile state, the vital provisions of the CPA including establishment of District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions remains unimplemented due to poor response for the posts of Presidents, the notification for which was issued on March 1, 2021.

As per section 28 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) “every State and Union Territory shall, by notification, establish a District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, to be known as the District Commission, in each district and each District Commission shall consist of a President and not less than two members”.

Established at the State level, SCDRC was presided by a retired judge of the High Court, while two divisional consumer forums were set up in Jammu and Kashmir divisions, headed by in-service district and session Judges. After SCDRC commission had ceased to exist in the erstwhile state, the case files were handed to FCSCA.

“On Friday, the National Consumer Day was celebrated across India but in J&K, people can’t even file complaints in the Consumer Redressal Commission as it was shut post abrogation of article 370.” RTI activist, Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat told Kashmir Observer.

“People are aggrieved and frustrated as even after being duped for their money by the traders or companies, they can’t file a complaint in the commission as it has ceased to exist.”

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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