Mumbai:Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission & Missing Files

White ants eat up consumer plaints

Swati Deshpande | TNN

Mumbai: The Maharashtra State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in Mumbai alone has about 8,000 cases pending—some dating back to mid-1990s. Across the state, the figure crosses 17,000. That means at least these many consumers are awaiting justice from poor service or defective products or plain high handedness usually by builders and developers. As if that was not enough, missing files became a recent scourge at the commission in Mumbai when sources said white ants had eaten away over thousands of papers.
When Justice S B Mhase took over last October after he retired from the HC as the president, he launched several enquiries and started talking tough with the staff.

In a recent order in a case of 2007 coming in appeal from the Thane consumer commission, Justice Mhase said, “This is a very shameful affair so far as the office of the registrar is concerned,’’ and directed the registrar to trace a missing file. He noted that the office of the registrar was not even following previous directions of tracing the file which was missing since December 2009.

“What is painful is that the office is not following directions in spite of being at the commission for the last 12 years,’’ said the president and directed the registrar at the commission to look for the file again and “fix liability’’. The repeated orders from him to trace missing files of appeals seems to finally have had an effect, said some at the Commission. “Fewer files are now reported as missing when the appeals come up for hearing,’’ said a lawyer on Friday.

The new President is insisting that original paperbooks of appeals or direct applications are first traced, unlike the earlier practice of allowing parties to “reconstruct’’ the documents and file them afresh. Sources said in most of the “missing’’ cases, the matter involves a developer against whom a district forum has passed unfavourable orders.

Advocate Sumedha Rao had just such a case. Last week, when her matter, involving Hill View Cooperative Housing Society versus Bhushan Enterprises, was called out, the case papers, which were missing since last month were suddenly found.

The builder has last April been directed by a district forum to pay the Borivli society Rs 16 lakh as compensaton and dues and also directed the builder to do the conveyance which was pending since 1992. The builder opposed saying the original complaint was time-barred and wrong. She moved in appeal last May but did not inform the society. It was only last December that the builder brought the matter for hearing after a warrant was issued against her by another court. In February the files went missing.

Sources said in many cases, files were ‘miraculously’ found when the court day ended. The problems faced by the commission are many. There are two judicial members, other members and two court rooms, one of which—at 50 sq ft—is smaller than a squatter’s room and a staff of 40 from the State Civil Supplies department.

One Response

  1. Possibly if the litigants have approached the civil court the routine affairs would have been taken much care like accounting for a papers take on file. In my case it took 5 months for an appeal case to be numbered as the operating paper where in the judge notes the daily orders went missing. It was traced to be in the side rack of the filing clerk safely with out going to one where closed cases are kept. The procedures for civil courts are age old where as that of consumer courts are just 2 decades old.
    Also one reason for the pending cases is that the lawers are prolonging the cases for their own monitory benifit and the Judges are not bothered to to give ex-party orders. With only less than five to six reasons or rules to be coated and no inerpretation of rules are complicated the cases can be closed with in six months.
    In fact the consumer courts in district level at Chennai are superb in closing the cases leaving less time for lawers and more for themselves to study thhe disputes. Some of the Judgments are land mark oners.

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