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Pile-up rap for people’s court
- Consumer forum chief points finger at 2131 pending cases

The huge backlog of cases in the state, the “civil court-like functioning” of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) and the district consumer forums, and the manner in which the Calcutta District Forum’s Unit II was shifted to Lindsay Street without prior permission, have brought the apex consumer body president to the city. He will meet the state chief secretary and other officials on Monday.

Upset over the slow disposal rate, D.P. Wadhwa, president of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), said his office in Delhi was flooded with complaints from different corners of the country, including Calcutta. Last month, the number of undisposed cases in the Calcutta unit and the state was estimated at 2,131, with 784 cases pending in Calcutta’s Unit I.

“The number is very high. Why should there be pending cases' They should dispose of at least 75 to 100 cases every month,” Wadhwa told Metro on Sunday. He said at the NCDRC, 300 to 400 cases are being disposed of every month and it was possible for other consumer courts to follow suit. Wadhwa flew in from the Northeast.

“We take some simple steps to ensure speedy justice for consumers. We maintain punctuality, usually do not adjourn cases, write short orders and do not withhold orders for more than a week,” the NCDRC head said.

Wadhwa feels that retired judges, who dispose of cases at consumer courts, find it difficult to shake off their old ideas. “The judges serving here must have compassion in their heart for the common people and must deliver speedy justice for their benefit,” he stated.

He said the consumer forums in Calcutta as well as elsewhere in the country were run like civil courts. “Consumer forums must not run like civil courts. Judges must render expeditious justice without being bound by rules of civil procedure,” Wadhwa said. According to him, lawyers praying for adjournment, too, delayed justice.

He also expressed his displeasure at non-availability of proper data regarding monthly disposal rate of cases in Bengal.

Moloy Kumar Basu, SCDRC president, admitted that the number of pending cases was quite high. “I have joined only this month and will look into the matter,” he said. One of the reasons, Basu said, is the large number of medical negligence cases. “I have the impression that these cases are taking too much time,” he said.

Sambhu Charan Dutta, former president of the state forum, who retired in August, feels inefficiency of staff and lack of infrastructure were responsible for the huge backlog. “The rise in the number of medical negligence cases is causing a jam,” Dutta opined.

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