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SC directs all states, except Maharashtra, to fill up vacancies in Consumer Commissions by Jan end

The Supreme Court has directed all states, except Maharashtra, to fill up vacancies in the Districts and State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions by the end of January 2022.

A bench comprising Justices S K Kaul and M M Sundresh noted that a large number of states are stated to be reaching the culmination of the process of appointment.

With regard to Tamil Nadu, the top court said the acting Chief Justice of the high court would have to nominate some Judge and the state government would promptly approach the acting Chief Justice for the said purpose and ”we expect the nomination to be made on an urgent basis”.

Advocate Aditya Narain, who has been appointed as amicus curiae in the case, submitted a comprehensive status report with regard to the appointment of members of the Commission. ”It is suggested by the amicus curiae that two months’ time, i.e., by the end of January, 2022 should be enough for the States to fully comply, which include the ones which have partially complied but their vacancies have not been filled up, the exception being State of Maharashtra which will have to wait the decision in the special leave petition stated to be filed both by the Union of India and the State but not listed as yet,” the bench said.

On the issue of development of judicial infrastructure, the apex court noted that a large part of pending funds under category of utilisation certificate ”UC.” does not portray a very happy situation.

”It must be appreciated that the utilization of the Central funding in turn requires planning by the States so that the funds do not lapse. The project may be spread over a period of time and if the utilisation is on the basis of the total funds available without taking into account the time period within which that infrastructure would be built, there is bound to be a situation of funds lapsing,” the bench said.

The top court, in its December 1 order, said that what is required is to take up as many projects as would result in a utilisation of the fund in the given financial year so that the fund does not lapse.

”It is suggested to us that in order to facilitate the utilization of funds within the stipulated time and to ensure that utilisation certificates are submitted so that no part of the fund lapses, there should be nodal officers assisting the Empowered Committees.

”We call upon the Central Government and the State Governments as well as the Union Territories to nominate the nodal officers for the said purpose within a week. These nodal officers will coordinate and assist the Empowered Committees,” the bench said.

The apex court made it clear that the Empowered Committees, the nodal officers, states and the Union government are all responsible to ensure that the funds allocated are utilised properly and within the time stipulated with proper utilization certificate to ensure that no fund lapses, and are utilized under the Scheme.

The top court was hearing a suo motu case, ‘Inaction of the Governments in appointing President and Members/Staff of Districts and State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and inadequate infrastructure across India’.

Earlier, the apex court had expressed displeasure over delay in appointments in the Districts and State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and said if the government does not want the tribunals then it should abolish the Consumer Protection Act.

It had directed that the process of filling up vacancies in the State Consumer Commissions as per its earlier directions must not be impeded by the judgment of the Bombay High Court which had quashed certain Consumer Protection Rules.

Sankaranarayanan had apprised the court about the judgement passed by the Bombay High Court at Nagpur Bench quashing certain Consumer Protection Rules.

The top court had in January said that Consumer rights are ”important rights” and non-manning of posts and inadequate infrastructure in the district and state consumer commissions across the country would deprive the citizens of redressal of their grievances.

The top court had appointed senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan and lawyer Aaditya Narain as amicus curiae to assist it in the matter.

Source: devdiscourse.com