Mumbai: Two of the city's four district consumer disputes redressal commissions have come to a grinding halt affecting the consumer complaints disposal in the times of more consumer awareness.
The suburban and the additional suburban district consumer disputes redressal commissions that operate from Bandra east (Collector office building) are only accepting complaints but not hearing cases. Collectively, there are over 4,000 cases pending at both commissions that look after eastern and western suburbs. The other two are south Mumbai and Central Mumbai.
No President in both bodies
The reason for them coming to a halt is no President in both. As per the rules, a Commission requires a quorum with the President along with a member for hearing the cases. If the president is not around, then he can designate a senior member in her or his absence to hear the case. However, when there is no president, then the senior member cannot be given charge and hence cannot hear the cases.
R G Wankhade, who was until recently president of additional suburban and holding charge of suburban, left the Commission on February 9.Though he was to retire in December, a Supreme Court order around that time had asked the government to extend the term of retiring members till March 1. As per rules, those in position retire either when they complete their tenure or when they achieve 65 years of age, whichever is earlier. Officials from the Commissions said that while SC directed the state to give extension, in case of Wankhade he had already crossed the age of 65 years of age that is set as retirement in the Act and hence his tenure could not be extended. In the case of others whose tenure was over but they were still not 65, their term was extended.
"Only those cases are being completed where he had given charge to the senior member. Otherwise we are not conducting any hearing. We are only taking complaints but not hearing matters," said Shraddha Jalnapurkar, member of suburban district consumer dispute redressal commission. Same was the case with additional suburbs.
"This has come as news to me. If the age limit is crossed, there is nothing that can be done by us. We have put things before the Supreme Court and will be waiting for its decision," said Vijay Waghmare, secretary, consumer protection, government of Maharashtra.
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