Fill Vacancies In Consumer Forums, Submit Report On Infrastructure Requirements Of DCDRCs, State Commission: High Court To Delhi Govt
The Delhi High Court has issued a slew of directions for improvement of infrastructure and filling up of vacancies in State and district consumer forums.
Noting that a total of 24 posts for various categories are vacant in the district forums, Justice Pratibha M Singh directed that the same be filled up within a period of four weeks after the lifting of Model Code of Conduct in Delhi, where municipal elections are scheduled.
The court said the stenographers, who are well-versed in English language, be posted at the district forums as well as State Commission within two weeks, adding that thereafter the currently working Hindi stenographers shall be repatriated.
"It is also made clear that in future, it shall be ensured that the stenographers who are posted in the DCDRCs and State Commission, shall be those who are duly qualified in English shorthand and typing, so that the work of such fora is not impeded in any manner," the court said.
The court has also directed that the staff deployed in the state and district forums shall not be transferred before completion of a period of three years. The staff will report to the Members or Presidents of the concerned district forums or State Commission, Justice Singh said.
"A quarterly review report of such staff shall be sent by the concerned Member/President to the Services Department, GNCTD, which shall be taken into account to evaluate the performance of the staff," said the court.
With regard to creation of other posts like Joint Registrars, Stenos, Readers, Ahalmads, Nazirs, the court has sought a timeline from the Secretary of Delhi Government's Consumer Affairs Department. "For the said status report to be prepared, the Secretary, Consumer Affairs Dept., shall consult the concerned Members/Presidents of the DCDRCs/State Commission," it added.
On the lack of sufficient space in the premises of various consumer forums, Justice Singh said one Superintending Engineer of the Public Works Department (PWD) shall be identified by the department's Secretary within one week.
"Such Superintending Engineer shall constitute a team and inspect all the DCDRCs and the State Commission. The said team shall also consult the Presidents of all the District Fora and give suggestions for proper utilization of space and provision of better infrastructure. Let the said suggestions be placed in the form of a report by the said Superintending Engineer, before the worthy Registrar General, one week before the next date of hearing," the court said in the order.
With regard to the lack of mediation cells in consumer forums, a suggestion was given by the Delhi Government that the Delhi Dispute Resolution Society has mediation centres which are mostly adjacent to the various consumer forums and may be used.
The court said that Presidents or Members of the district consumer forums and State Commission may inspect the premises and make arrangements for utilising the same for commencement of mediation proceedings.
"…the Chairperson of the State Commission shall, in consultation with the Presidents/Members of the DCDRCs, draw up a panel of Mediators, who have expertise in consumer protection law and other relevant areas, so that mediation proceedings can be immediately commenced in the various DCDRCs/State Commission as well. In this regard, let a report be put up by the Registrar, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to the worthy Registrar General, Delhi High Court, at least one week before the next date of hearing," the court said.
The court also directed the concerned Presidents or Members of the consumer forums to endeavor to commence hearings in final hearing matters on an early basis.
"Let the updated data in respect of the final hearing matters being listed and taken up for disposal/disposed-of be collected by the Registrar, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, who shall submit a report on this to the worthy Registrar General, Delhi High Court, one week before the next date of hearing," said the court.
The matter will now be heard on January 23, 2023. The directions were issued on the basis of a report submitted by various stakeholders, who had recently held a meeting in pursuance of a court order to discuss the issues being faced by consumer forums in national capital.
The court has passed the directions in a petition which was filed last year against pendency of a 2007 consumer complaint at District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum (West), Janakpuri. The bench had then called for a report regarding vacancies of staff and members at the consumer forum and on the urgent requirements for its effective functioning.
Case Title: MOHAN PRASAD (SINCE DECEASED) THROUGH HIS LRS SH. YOGESH & ORS. v. EMPLOYEES STATE INSURANCE CORPORATION & ANR.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 1116