The Consumer Courts were set up with the aim of helping the public to get speedy and economical justice, but in actual fact, often, this goal is not achieved, according to a consumer activist.

He has alleged that many courts reject applications on flimsy reasons at the initial stage itself, so as to keep its workload light. He further charged that officials across the hierarchy worked together to achieve this end. According to him, the Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai Consumer Courts have the worst track records in India, while the District Consumer Court in Chandigarh has the best.

An RTI submission by him revealed that the Thane Additional Consumer Disputed Redressal Forum at Belapur in Navi Mumbai rejects 33.42% complaints at the admission stage.
Accusing the district consumer forums in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai of making up their own rules just to thwart the filing of cases, he referred to a directive by them that case papers should be written in Marathi with translations in English. The difficulty and expenses involved made many prospective complainants drop their plans, he said. When activists objected to these rules, new ones were framed, specifying margin dimensions, spacing, format and sequence. The slightest deviation was reason enough for the courts to reject the case papers. In all other courts, no format is prescribed, and a simple application is accepted.

These clauses too were subsequently withdrawn after activists opposed them vehemently, he said. Quoting statistics, he said from 2010 till November 2015 the Navi Mumbai Consumer Court received 1,290 complaints, of which it allowed only 859 and decided only 48. Put differently, it decides only 8 cases per year. The cost incurred by the court to settle a complaint is many hundred times more than the relief amount claimed by the consumer, he pointed out.


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