Eight-week deadline to fill all vacancies in these forums
New Delhi: The Supreme Court ordered all states and Union territories on Wednesday to fill up the vacancies in the state and district consumer dispute redressal forums within eight weeks, saying: “We are not giving any extensions. Enough time was given to set the houses in order.”
Setting the eight-week deadline to fill all vacancies in these forums, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy said it will be compelled to summon the chief secretaries of those states which fail to comply with its order and adhere to the deadline.
Taking a dim view of states not taking action in pursuance of the law on consumer protection, the court wondered: “Is there some ‘muhurat’ required for taking steps? The states are defeating the purpose for which the consumer protection laws have been made... they have been made for the benefit of the people.” Issuing a slew of directions, the court, taking note of the large number of vacancies, ordered that all existing vacancies and potential vacancies be advertised within two weeks.
The court also directed the states which have not constituted selection committees to set them up within four weeks from Wednesday.
Reminding the state governments about the “legislative mandate”, the court said the question of consultations with the Centre will arise only if a state government wants to have more than four members as laid down in the law, otherwise there can be no reason to derail the appointment of a chairman and the mandated four members.
The court said this while hearing a suo motu matter relating to the appointment of the chairperson, members and the staff of various state and district consumer disputes redressal forums across the country. The court directed some states that have not notified rules under Section 44 of the Consumer Protection Act to do so within two weeks.