Don’t raise hopes, when you can’t fulfil aspirations: SC to Centre on vacancies in consumer forums


PTI, Aug 11, 2021, 7:08 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday expressed displeasure against the Centre for not filling up the vacancies in National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) despite making a commitment, saying “you should not raise hopes, when you cannot fulfil the aspirations.”

The top court also directed the states and Union Territories to fill all the vacancies within eight weeks. A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy also gave eight weeks to Centre to fill up the remaining three vacancies after noting that the government has filled only four vacancies. It also directed the Centre to do legislative impact study of Consumer Protection Act, 2019 in four weeks saying that the government is always rushing to make the laws but does not do its impact study on the people.

The top court was hearing a suo motu case on inaction of the Governments in appointing President and Members/Staff of Districts and State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and inadequate infrastructure across India. Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for Centre, said that terms of appointment will be as per the recently passed law Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021.

bench said, “If you can appoint four out of six then why not three more as one more vacancy has arisen due to retirement of one of the members in NCDRC. When one has the will to do something, then there is no confusion as such”. Lekhi said that he will use his office to persuade the concerned authority to ensure speedy filling of vacancies.

The bench said, “earlier also you told us that all the vacancies at NCDRC will be filled up but you did not fill it up. Don’t raise hopes when you cannot fulfil the aspirations. Consumers are getting no redressal of their grievances due to cases piling up owing to the vacancies at the forum”.

“We are informed that out of six vacancies stated to be still lying vacant at NCDRC, four vacancies have been filled. Now, three vacancies are three due to the retirement of one of the members. We see no reason why the central government should get more time than given to the states to fill the vacancies. The schedule given to states equally applies to the central government,” the top court said.

On legislative impact study, the bench told Lekhi, “You can say it is not done. I have full sympathy with you as we have experience that extracting information from the government is a very difficult task. Legislative impact study must be carried out to analyse the impact of law on litigation and people. This is the irony of all the legislation. You never do legislative impact study. It is mostly a post facto analysis”.

At the outset, the top court had pulled up the state governments for not filling the status report and affidavits on time about the vacancies in consumer forums and warned that it will summon the chief secretaries of the respective states. It said as per the report of senior advocate Gopal Shankarnarayanan, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae, some of the states have not notified the rules under the Consumer Protection Act. “States are still dilly-dallying to notify the Rules. If Rules are not notified in two weeks, then model Rules made by Centre will automatically apply for the respective States,” the bench said.

It said that in view of the large number of vacancies in consumer forums, it is directing all the states and UTs to advertise all the existing and potential vacancies, if not done, within two weeks. The top court also directed that states and UTs which have not set up selection committees to form such committees within four weeks.

The top court had in January said that Consumer rights are ”important rights” and non-manning of posts and inadequate infrastructure in district and state consumer commissions across the country would deprive the citizens of redressal of their grievances. The top court had appointed senior advocate Gopal Shankaranarayan and lawyer Aaditya Narain as amicus curiae to assist it in the matter.

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