JUSTICE S.C. DUTTA, president, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal, met readers of The Telegraph at Bhabani Bhavan to answer their queries. Participants included Anil Karmakar, Samir Ganguly, Prasanta Banerjee, Dikshabrata Chowdhury, Sumita Roy Chowdhury, Prabir Basu, Dipa Bose, Asoke Kumar Mukherjee, Barun Prasad, S.H. Khan and I. Ahmed
I. Ahmed: Recently, I purchased an electronic gadget. Within a short period, it developed defects. The shop-owner advised me to contact the manufacturer. I sought compensation but nothing came of my demand. What remedy can I expect from the commission' I feel I have been duped by the manufacturer.
Your feelings are quite justified. If you have the receipt for the gadget, get in touch with the commission and submit an application. Your complaint will be examined and if found appropriate, the commission will help you to get redress by taking appropriate steps against the manufacturer.
Anil Karmakar: In the amendment to the Consumer Protection Act (Copra) of 1986, a provision has been made for payment of fees by the complainant. But, unfortunately, there is no indication whether the fee should be at a flat rate, irrespective of the gravity of the complaint, or by a graded, slab system' Also, the mode of payment is not clarified.
The matter will be set right in due course.
Asoke Kumar Mukherjee: Do you feel that with the imposition of fees for filing complaints, cases against doctors for negligence will decrease'
Actually it is a matter of opinion. It may not be so.
Anil Karmakar: Should not the council adhere to a time-frame while redressing a dispute'
Everyone is aware of the cause of delay. All the commissions, be it at the national, state or district level, are over-burdened. It is natural that a longer time be required for disposing of a case as the commission attaches due importance to each case. Everyone who approaches the commission is attended to.
Samir Ganguly: Can the contractual obligation between a landlord and his tenant be adjusted by the commission'
This kind of case is not usually taken up by the commission. In a dispute between landlord and tenant, an expert authority exists to mediate.
Samir Ganguly: What happens when a consumer moves a higher court after refusing to accept the verdict given by the commission'
The commission tries to settle a dispute between two parties. But if a consumer moves the high court, the commission forwards the relevant papers to the court, if asked to.
Prasanta Banerjee: In the last amendment to the earlier consumer Act, there are some lacunae that need to be removed by way of vesting more power on the commission at a different level. Is there any scope'
Where the award is payment of money, a provision has been made for sending the order to the district magistrate of the district concerned for recovery of the amount, under the Public Debt Recovery Act. The commission keeps watch, so that the complainant is satisfied after the completion of the whole process. We always make every effort to give relief to every consumer who approaches the commission with genuine complaints and relevant papers.
Dikshabrata Chowdhury: The apex consumer court, in a landmark judgment, has directed that disputes relating to deficiency of service by cooperative societies can be tried under Copra. Do you foresee a barrage of cases against cooperative societies'
Certainly, there will be a good number of cases in view of the decision. It will also help disposal of cases and quite obviously, the period of delay will decrease.