Consumer forum or information com or both?
by, 02-05-2012 at 12:27 PM (4009 Views)
01. District Consumer Forums are headed by judicial officers [retired Dist. Judge], while most of ICs are from bureaucracy. Thus there is difference of mind frame and approach and hence results.
02. Decision is taken by 3 member bench of consumer forum. It has two [one male and another female] other members from common citizens, while at CIC/SIC it is single IC. Hence in consumer forum complaint is looked at from common manís perspective by two members. This improves quality of decisions.
03. There are 2 to 10 ICs per state, while in each district there is one or more consumer forums. In big cities there are 2 to 4 benches. Circuit benches of consumer forums at Taluka level is being contemplated under amendment pending in parliament.
04. ICís decision can be challenged in High Court only, which is a costly and time consuming procedure. In case of judgement of Consumer Forum, it can be challenged in State Consumer Commission, which is less costly and fast if it is argued by applicant himself.
05. Information seeker can proceed with CIC/SIC and simultaneously consumer forum, since consumer forum is concerned with deficiency of service and unfair trade practice, while CIC/SIC looks at from RTI perspective only.
06. In case of consumer forums, compensation is a rule while in case of CIC/SIC it is rare. Hence part of cost of litigation/travelling is recovered in most cases decided by consumer forums.
07. In most of SICs and CIC waiting period is 12 to 60 months, while in case of consumer forums it is 12 to 36 months.
08. In case of non-compliance of ICs orders, he can at the most penalize Rs.25000/- and/or recommend disciplinary action against PIO to head of public authority. Non-compliance of orders of consumer court can land govt officers in jail. As per news items top heads of two business groups were ordered to be arrested for non-compliance of orders of district forums in two different cases.
09. Fee up to claim of Rs.100000/- is only Rs.100/- in consumer forum.
10. In majority of consumer forumsí decisions supply of information, payment of compensation and expenses have been ordered.
11. In consumer forum you get adequate time to place your arguments, while in case of information commission time given is too short to properly argue your case.
12. However, consumer forums have some negative sides also:
a. Applicant has to visit consumer forum at least 2-3 times. In case of SIC information seeker may or may not remain present at hearing. Only CIC has facility for video conferencing from district head quarters.
b. Complaint in consumer forum has to be filed at the place of office of PIO, it may not be convenient for information seeker, unless he can afford advocate or can be represented by friend/relative well versed in RTI and consumer matters residing at the place of consumer forum.
c. Inter-state RTI matters have language problem also, since proceedings in consumer forums are in regional language, though complaint can be filed in English/Hindi also. This may be true of some SICs also.
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