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Govt pleads leniency for contempt

Orissa High Court
 

Cuttack: The state food supplies and consumer welfare department has urged Orissa High Court to drop contempt proceedings while seeking "unconditional apology" for taking over nine years to comply with a court order.

The plea related to a contempt case arising from a petition which the Odisha Consumers' Association had filed eight years ago alleging non-compliance of an order issued in October 2008.

In the order, the court had directed the state government to implement sections 7 and 8 (a) of the Consumer Protection Act that provided for the establishment of State Consumer Protection Council and District Consumer Protection Councils.

According to the act, the consumer affairs minister would be chairman of the State Consumer Protection Council while the collectors would serve as chairpersons of their respective district councils to promote and protect the rights of consumers.

The contempt case against the food supplies and consumer welfare secretary for non-compliance had languished in court all these years till the court took it up last October.

Petitioner counsel Dilip Mohapatra alleged that the department had not complied with the court orders. Taking note, the high court sought a compliance report from the government.

The government filed an affidavit on Tuesday stating that the State Consumer Protection Council as well as the 30 District Consumer Protection Councils had been constituted. The government had placed funds of Rs 10,000 with each district to meet the expenditure, the affidavit said.

In his affidavit, the food supplies and consumer welfare secretary Vir Vikram Yadav said the government had taken "a series of initiatives to protect and safeguard the interests of consumers like setting up of two circuit benches of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Berhampur and Sambalpur and one camp court of the District Consumer Redressal Forum (Bhubaneswar) in Khurda to reduce pendency of consumer cases".

"The delay in compliance may be excused and the deponent seeks unconditional apology for the delay in compliance of order," Yadav said in his affidavit, adding that in view of the submissions, "the present contempt proceeding may be dropped".

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