No matter how attractive or appealing something may look on paper, it is of no use whatsoever if it does not achieve its objective, and worse when it actually harms the very cause it is supposed to espouse. This is the case with the Consumer Protection Act 2019 which comes into effect from today, repealing the earlier enactment of 1986.
Let us look at the existing scenario. The District Consumer Forum which till now had a pecuniary limit of Rs 20 lakhs, are mostly located in premises which are too small, especially in urban areas where the filing of cases is more and there is a scarcity of adequate space. Consequently, files are spilling over even in corridors, and there is hardly any place for movement. The Forum is manned by just one or maximum two clerks, who find it difficult to cope with the existing work load of accepting complaints, scrutinising them, preparing and despatching notices, accepting of deposits and investing the money during the pendency of appeals, issuing certified copies of orders, etc.
Similarly, there is also a dearth of stenographers, and there is just one stenographer who has to sit on the dais during court hours to take dictation of daily proceedings of each case (known as the case roznama), and thereafter take dictation of judgments from the Presiding Officer as well as two members, Imagine the plight when there is just one steno between three persons. Consequently, judgments are invariably delayed, sometime by two to six months. Besides, when the steno proceeds on leave due to an illness or for some family occasion, the work of the forum comes to a grinding halt.