Consumer Protection Act is a strong and very effective law in order to sensitize consumers at large and as such there is a need to pressurize both state as well as central government to enforce rules and provisions as laid down in the Act for its effective implementation. This was said by Shri M L Mehta, former Chief Secretary, Govt of Rajasthan, while speaking as a keynote speaker in a roundtable feedback meeting organised by CUTS-International on December 15 2010 at Hotel Jaipur Palace in Jaipur.
The state level roundtable feedback was organised under the ongoing CUTS project GRANIRCA (Grassroots Reachout and Networking in Rajasthan through Consumer Action) with the support of Ministry of Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Govt of India, which is being implemented in 12 districts of Rajasthan.
Mehta, who is also currently serving as President of CUTS further said that its been almost 25 years now ever since this Act came into force and this Act was enacted with a clear objective of giving speedy and economical redressal to consumers but the overall objectives are not met due to non implementation of its several provisions and as a result of which the consumers are not benefited to the extent as they should have been. So, now consumers and consumer organization should unite and put a pressure on government in any possible manner as they can, even if it is in a kind of issuing legal notice to it. MLAs can also be utilized in the process for raising the issue in Vidhansabha.
Shri Rao Rajendra Singh, MLA from Shahpura (Jaipur) insisted on better protection of agriculture consumers. He said that 75 percent of country’s population belongs to agriculture and they are being exploited due to adulterated seeds and as a result of which they face financial losses also. There is no specific law, which can control or monitor fake seeds. Singh also emphasized on banning those drugs and pesticides, which have already been put to ban at the international level but are easily available in the Indian market and causing adverse affects on the health of consumers. Big companies advertising their products at a mass level in a very effective manner but do not disclose the risks available in a manner, as they should do. So, Consumer Protection Act should cover all this aspect and come to the rescue of consumers.
Shri Sukh Ram Kohli, another MLA from Basedi, Dholpur stressed to empower rural consumers more as he said that the urban consumers are relatively lesser exploited then the rural. Kohli emphasized the need to have more product testing laboratories in the state preferably at least one at the district level. He also reiterated to reduce the intervention of lawyers in consumer fora.
Shri Haneef Mohd, former president, District Consumer Forum, Jaipur also endorsed the need to have more well equipped laboratories so that the complaints related to product testings can be effectively taken up and heard. Haneef Mohd also said that inspite of having a provision enshrined in the Act for state and central governments to sue cases as consumer, there has not been even a single case registered in any consumer fora in Rajasthan. Govts also buys food and commodities from the market and they should also be equally concerned on behalf of all the consumers, who are going to be the ultimate users of these commodities.
Another district Consumer Forum President from Churu, Shri G P Gupta stressed for better infrastructure in consumer fora. Most of which are facing inadequate staff problems and other basic facilities. Consumers are facing imbalances and exploitations in education sector also.
Shri Sunny Sebastian, a senior media person from The Hindu earmarked the problems to aggrieved consumers, who face delay in redressal due to non-existence of members or presidents in district forums. He also demanded strict and vigilant check over adulterated food items in the market.
In his opening remarks Mr. George Cheriyan, Director CUTS International flagged the issues of the non-existence of Consumer Protection Councils in state, delay in justice in consumer fora, vacancies in few district forum, exploitation of consumers particularly in financial service sector etc.
Deepak Saxena, Programme Officer, CUTS CART presented the overview of the project key findings, issues emerged out from the overall activities and recommendations putforth from the study done under the project. He revealed that only 26% cases are resolved within the stipulated time, health department found only 14% adulterated food, most of the drug inspector shoulders responsibility of more than 2 districts, non-existence of State Consumer Protection Council in many districts, delays in appointments in Districts Forums (Presently post of 4 Presidents & 9 Members, 5 more presidents are to be retired during first quarter of 2011) etc.
In the end, Amarjeet Singh of CUTS-CART summarized the days proceedings and gave vote of thanks.
The meeting was attended by about 50 representatives coming from 12 targeted districts, local NGOs, media reps etc.
For more information please contact:
Deepak Saxena (+91- 9351366827) / Amarjeet Singh (+91-9829015812)
CUTS Center for Consumer Action, Research & Training (CUTS- CART)
D-222, Bhaskar Marg, Bani Park Jaipur 302 016, India
Ph: 91.141.5133259, 2282 823/2282 482
Fax: 91.141. 4015395
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Project webpage: www.cuts-international.org/cart/GRANIRCA