More often than not, the immediate necessity for the preservation of the self and family (read: staying alive) in these uncertain times have relegated a very vital issue which should have been of much concern for the people of this state to a mere inconvenience. Perhaps, the rising sense of desperation or the expectation of worsening social conditions has made the public alter its sense of priorities.
The issue; the rights and interests of the consumers of the state and measures to protect them. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted to provide a simpler and quicker access to redressal of consumer grievances. However, in India, it has been found from a number of independent analyses carried out over the years that the agencies at the district level are working more efficiently than those at the national and state level. Therefore, there is still need of agencies functioning at state and national level to dispose of the pending cases as early as possible by creating supplementary benches as per the provisions of Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Consumers are very often at the receiving end of the poor, inefficient and negligent services and substandard goods on offer. Modern technological growth and complexities of the sellers techniques, existence of a vast army of middlemen and unethical and untruthful advertisements as well as hoarding and creation of artificial scarcity during difficult and troubled times in the society have aggravated the situation of consumer exploitation. And yet, these blatant exploitations can be brought down or at least curtailed only with proper awareness and involvement of the consumers about their rights.
Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, Redressal Forums have been established at three different levels namely District Forum, State Commission and National Commission or National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
A complaint can be filed with the district forum by a consumer, any recognized consumer association, a group of consumers or The Central /State Government as the case may be, either in its Individual capacity or as a representative of interests of consumers in General. Moreover, any person aggrieved by an order made by the District Forum may appeal against such order to the State Commission within a period of 30 days from the date of the order. The State Commission may entertain an appeal after 30 days if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing it within that period. The same process can be repeated with the national commission if the consumer is still not satisfied with the rulings of the state commission.
It must be said that there already exist a strong setup designed to protect the interests and rights of the consumers of the state, at least in principle. The state forum situated at the Food & Civil Supplies complex at Sangaiporou have started functioning after being suspended for a few years, and the public should avail of the legal and other assistance which can be had from this centre if there is any instance where the sellers of goods or providers of services are felt to have used unfair means or cheated the consumers. It is we the consumers whose proactive ways can send a clear message saying that no one can short change us.