Consumer Affairs Minister Goyal unveils ‘right to repair’ portal
Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday introduced a host of new initiatives, including a right to repair portal and an NTH mobile app and opened new premises of the National Consumer Helpline centre in the national capital.
On the ‘right to repair’ portal, manufacturers would share the manual of product details with customers so that they could either repair by self, by third parties, rather than depend on original manufacturers. Initially, mobile phones, electronics, consumer durables, automobile and farming equipments would be covered.
Speaking on the theme “Effective disposal of cases in consumer commission” on the occasion of National Consumer Day, Mr. Goyal lauded the consumer commissions for disposing of higher number of pending cases in last six months and expressed confidence of eliminating the backlog of cases across the country.
“In a short span of six months, we have doubled disposal of pending cases. About 90,000 pending cases were disposed (between July and November this year),” he said. About 38,000 pending cases were disposed of by consumer courts in the year-earlier period.
Mr. Goyal added there would be a ramp up in the disposal of pending cases and elimination of the backlog in the days to come.
Consumer empowerment was going to be a paramount feature of a developed India and called for keeping consumers at the centre of all the initiatives, he said.
Under the Consumer Protection law, a complaint is required to be disposed of within 90 days of its filing and within 150 days wherever expert evidence is required to be taken.
NCDRC President R. K. Agrawal said, “No one expects a case to be decided overnight. However, difficulty arises when the actual time take for disposal of the case far exceeds its expected life span and a question is raised about the efficacy and efficiency of consumer commissions.” When the law mandates quick disposal of cases, several years of delay in deciding the cases always puts a “stigma” on the object for which the commissions were established in the 1986 act, he said, adding that there is a need to look into reasons for the delay.
Mr. Agrawal said the disposal rate of complaints in the consumer commissions had been on an average of 89%. Since inception of consumer commissions, there was still a backlog of 6.24 lakh cases as on December 16.
This “reveals that the consumer commissions have not been able to meet the expectations of the consumers and have in fact been under severe strain to fulfil the objectives for which they were enacted,” he said.
He said the state governments have to take action well in advance in filling up of vacancies of President and members and to maintain a panel of candidates for filling up of future vacancies also to avoid delay in appointments.
Among others, he also suggested clubbing of similar or connected matters, granting at least limited financial autonomy to the consumer commissions, reducing unnecessary adjournments besides following the principles of natural justice and adjudication through summary trials.
There are 673 consumer commissions in the country.