Part of Project Report Submitted To Tata Legal ServiceThe year 1986 is a 'Magna Carta' in the history of Consumerism. It was this year that witnessed the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act. The first ever legislation in India of its kind which solely aimed at the grief staken consumers who the victims of the unfair trade practices and sub standard services rendered to them. The preamble to this Act reads as follows: An Act to provide for better protection of the interests of the consumers and to make provisions for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers' disputes and fpr matter connected therewith. Thus the preamble to this Act makes the intention of the framers of this Act crystal clear . The setting up of the dispute redressal machinery was only to secure and enable speedy justice to the aggrieved consumers. But the only point on which this mission could not give back its 100% waste short sightedness in visualizing the problem which occur at the post implementation period of the orders/decrees of the redressal foras. This was ultimately realized by the legislature though not much expediently, as an outcome of which the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill is before the house. The recommended amendment in the Act are varied and multi-dimensional. The major being the enlargement in the jurisdiction of the foras both in precautionary and other matters.
Though the proposed changes will improve the deplorable situation but not the fullest extent. I feel that the following changes must be brought to implement the spirit of this Act in its fullest amplitude. In my opinion the amendment required in the Consumer Protection Act is regarding the appointment of President of District Forum, National Commission. Further, to amend the provision of Section 25, which deals with the 'Enforcement of orders by the Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission.
Amendment Suggested in Consumer ActThis act may be called the The Consumer And Protection (Amendment) Act shall apply to the whole of India except the state of Jammu & Kashmir. This act shall come into force w.e.f. notification published in the official gazette by the Central Government. An act to provide for greater autonomy and realize the objective of speedy disposal and simple and cost effective redressal to the consumers.
The first change I would suggest is that section 10(A): 'a person who is, or has been, or is qualified to be a District Judge, who shall be its President' should be deleted and the section should read as under:
S.10. Composition of the District Forum:-
1. Each District Forum shall consist of :
a) [ a President , who is a District Judge,]
2. [ Both members (excluding the President)]
[J substituted by Consumer Protection Act (Amendment) Act]
of the District Forum shall hold office for a term of five years or upto the age of 65 years, which ever is earlier, and shall not be eligible for re-appointment, provided that .. member who has resigned.
P.S: [ (4) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub section (1) (a), a person appointed as President before the commencement of the Consumer Protection (amendment) Act, shall continue to hold such office as President, till the completion of his term.]
[(2A) The District Judge shall be posted on these posts by the concerned High Court of that state, normally for a term of three years.]
[(3A) The salary or honorarium and other allowance payable to, and the other terms and conditions of service of the President of the District Forum shall not be to the disadvantage to his conditions of service.]
P.S: The section which further requires some variation is section 16.
S.16: Composition of the State Commission :
(1) Each State Commission shall consist of
(a) [its President appointed by State Govt. who is a Judge of a High Court.]
[ ] substituted by the Consumer Protection (Amendment Act)
Provided that no appointment under this clause shall be made except after consultation with Chief Justice of the High Court.
(2) The salary or honorarium and other allowance payable to, and the other terms and conditions of service of, [the two members] of the state commission shall be such may be prescribed by the State Government.
(2A) The salary or honorarium and other allowance payable to, and the other terms and conditions of service of, the President of the State Commission shall not be to the disadvantage to his conditions of service.
(3) [The two members] of the State Commission shall hold office for a term of five years or upto the age of sixty seven years, whichever is earlier and shall not be eligible or re-appointment.
(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) (a) a person appointed as President before the commencement of the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act shall continue to hold office as the President, till the completion of his term.]
To conclude in matters of appointment of President of the Foras the section which needs amendment is section .20.
S.20: Composition of the National Commission
(1) The National Commission shall consist of :-
[ (a) A person who is Judge of the Supreme Court, to be appointed by the Central Government, who shall be its President:]
Provided that no .. in consultation with the Chief Justice.
[ ] sub. By the C.P.(A) Act.
(2) *** --------- of the [four] members.
[(A) The salary or honorarium and other allowance payable to and the other terms and conditions of the President of the National Commission shall not be to the disadvantage to is condition of service.]
(3) [ The four members ] ---- reappointed.
(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub section (1) (a), a person appointed as a President before the commencement of the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, shall continue to hold office of the President , till the completion of his term ] sub.
To realize the intention of the legislatures and fulfillment of the Act to provide speedy redressal , the section 25 may be substituted as follows:-
[S.(25) Enforcement of orders by the Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission Every order made by the District Forum, the State Commission, or the National Commission may be enforced by the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be , in the same manner as if it were a decree or order made by a Court in a suit pending therein.
Note: The aim is that the application for execution of an order of the District Forum , the State Commission or the National Commission is, thus to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of section 37 to 74 read with Order XXI of the code of Civil Procedure, 1908] substituted.
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