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Quorum teaser for consumers

The district consumer forum has been defunct for 11 months in the absence of a quorum, while the government blames the high court for not sending a list of the probable candidates to choose the president.

More than 300 cases pertaining to consumer rights and protection are pending, apart from the failure of the forum to take up new cases. The president of the forum, Rama Nand Sharma, retired on January 14, 2013.

To compound woes, the female member of the forum, Gita Kumari, retired in August 2012, while Vijay Kumar Singh, the male member did so in August this year, rendering the quorum to nil. A quorum is the minimum number of members that must be present at meetings to validate proceedings and pass judgments. A president and two members a male and a female are required to constitute the quorum.

When contacted, food and consumer protection minister Shyam Rajak admitted that the post of the consumer forum president was lying vacant. He told The Telegraph over phone that his department has requested the high court to send a list of retired judges. A reminder has also been sent to the high court registrar in this regard. As soon as the list is made available, the posts would be filled, Rajak said.

A former male member of Gaya district consumer forum and senior advocate, Jalil Akhtar Olayee, told The Telegraph that around six cases of his clients were awaiting admission, while 12 were pending for hearing, in absence of the quorum.

The forum takes up cases pertaining to deficiency in services, unfair trade practice or negligence by government, government undertakings or private sector firms. Banks, post-offices, electricity department, insurance companies, private agencies and other departments dealing in products or services come under the ambit of the forum.

Raju Kumar, a utensil trader, said he filed a case in November 2013 against the Bihar State Power Holding Company Limited through his counsel Arvind Charan Priyadarshi. The case is yet to be admitted. I had applied for a power connection for my shop. My family has also purchased another shop connected to my store. Earlier, there was a telephone booth in the other shop but the booth owner vacated the shop with huge power dues. The power firm is asking me to pay the amount. This is not justified. The power company is not providing connection to my new shop owing to the outstanding bill, he said.