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Form power to consumers

- Move to create awareness on rights and complaints

Jorhat, Aug. 21: The Jorhat Consumer Redressal Forum has given power to the people by replacing the earlier convoluted complaint form with a simpler one.

The president of the forum, Mazed Ali, has also made the people aware of the importance of Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, India, 1985.

Ali, a former special judge, Assam, said the people lacked awareness on how to register a complaint at the forum and often fell prey to frauds who fleeced them in the name of registering complaints there.

“After a few months of joining, I came to know that people often shied away from knocking on our doors because of the complex nature of the form and in availing of the services of a professional whom they would have to hire to show them how to do it. In fact, the form was almost incomprehensible to most people,” he said.

Ali changed the words of the different columns to be filled in and furnished a set of instructions attached at the back of the form. Above the instructions were pointers, which raised the awareness level regarding the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, India, 1985.

There is also a pointer regarding Section 27 of the act that forces a trader to cough up the compensation, which he or she has failed to pay to a consumer despite an earlier judgment to the effect. The trader can be punished with imprisonment ranging from six months to three years.

Citing an example of a case, which called for such an implementation, Ali said ICICI Bank here had been asked to pay Rs 1,10,000 as the price of a car to a woman wh-ose vehicle they had pulled off of the road for alleged failure to deposit a loan instalment.

“In the case of Preeti Rekha Bora versus ICICI Bank case number CPA 8/, the bank was directed to pay the said amount as price of the vehicle, Rs 20,000 as compensation for harassment and Rs 5,000 as litigation amount. The bank appealed against this at the State Consumer Forum, but it was dismissed. The bank was ignoring the woman whenever she went to get the amount, sending her away on one plea or the other. A criminal case was filed on April 24 against the bank’s chairman, K.V. Kamath. An email was sent to him to appear before the forum and a letter was sent to their headquarters at Vadodara, summoning him. As soon as this was done, the bank officials brought a cheque with the amount. By that time the amount had gone up and finally, the amount paid was Rs 1,92,750, on June 9,” he said.

Ali said this was one section that consumers need to know about — that an institution can be forced to pay or face imprisonment.

Several consumers don’t know what to do if the trader does not pay up, he said.

The other instructions pertained to the amount (Rs 20 lakh) upto which a forum could compensate a consumer, the break-up of court fees (Rs 100 — Rs 500) for different compensation amounts to be paid through bank draft, how the form can be filled up without a lawyer’s help, and how a person can represent a group, which has the same grievance.

The form is free of cost.


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