JUSTICE S.C. DUTTA, president, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal, met readers of The Telegraph at Bhabani Bhavan last week to answer their queries. Participants included Anil Karmakar, Soma Dutta, Samarendranath Dutta, Anjan Dutta, Samir Ganguly, Prasanta Banerjee, Dikshabrata Chowdhury, Sumita Roy Chowdhury, Prabir Basu, Dipa Bose, Asoke Kumar Mukherjee, Barun Prasad, S.H. Khan and I. Ahmed
Prabir Basu: Generally, no doctor is willing to give evidence against another doctor, even in a case where medical negligence is evident. What can a complainant do to prove his case'
The complainant may produce documentary evidence, including reports of experts and other judicial authority, supported by an affidavit.
Sumita Roy Chowdhury: Can the consumer forum, by the social benevolence legislation, ignore a plea of constraint and snatch the accrued rights of a party'
As in the previous Act, provision exists for condonation, if the cause for delay by a party satisfies the disputes redressal agency. Of course, the case will be studied thoroughly before arriving at a conclusion.
Prabir Basu: Do you think that the order of attachment, provided under Section 25 (2) of the Consumer Protection Act (Copra), 1986, will ensure proper execution of a decree' If so, do you have enough infrastructure to implement the same'
Previously, the disputes redressal agencies had no power to pass interim orders. Now, they have been granted the power. In the event of non-compliance of the order, the disputes redressal agencies are empowered to attach the property of the defaulting party and this attachment will continue for three months. Even after this order, if the defaulting party fails or neglects to pay the awarded amount, it can be recovered by sale of the property attached earlier. So, a lot of development has taken place after the passing of the interim order. It has given relief to a number of complainants who had earlier been deprived of results, although the commission has always tried its best.
Barun Prasad: Won’t the provisions for entertaining interim applications prolong proceedings at the forum'
There is a chance of that.
Barun Prasad: How can proceedings be speeded up at the district fora'
You are aware of the process of filing a suit. The copy is usually passed to the member of the commission or to the president of the forum and, after hearing, within 21 days the court will declare the admissibility of the complaint. We request every complainant to approach any member of the commission or registrar or the president directly. Going to any outsider only causes delay and harassment.
Asoke Kumar Mukherjee: For raising a supplementary electricity bill, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission observed that the power supply utility should obtain the report of an electrical inspector first. Do you think it will check the electricity supply authority from raising inflated bills'
Yes. It should be done in the interest of the consumer.
Barun Prasad: After the recent amendment of Copra, magisterial powers have been conferred on members of the forum. Do you think that the forum can now issue warrants of arrest under Section 27 of Copra'
Once the magisterial power is vested in the appropriate authority, there seems to be no bar in issuing warrants of arrest against a defaulting person under Section 27 of Copra.
Barun Prasad: Is the forum competent to pass prohibitory or mandatory orders'
Usually, written orders are passed when a strong prima facie case is made out and this order is in aid to the final order that may eventually be passed.
Soma Dutta: Can a foreign airline having an office in West Bengal be sued for deficiency of services'
Yes, if the cause of action arises in the state forum jurisdiction, a case may be instituted with the said forum by any dissatisfied party.
Samarendranath Dutta: Complaints with the consumer forum are being adjudicated as summary proceedings, though the rule of law says pleadings should be supplemented by evidence. Why'
In appropriate cases, documentary evidence may be required and even accepted in summary trials for disposal of a case in an appropriate manner.