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For better protection of the interests of consumers and for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith the Indian Parliament enacted the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (68 of 1986) on 24th December, 1986. Act is not punitive or preventive in nature, rather it is compensatory.This Act is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 of the Act is introductory/preliminary which includes short title, extent, and commencement, application and definitions.  Chapter-2 is regarding formation, procedure for meetings and objects of the Consumer Protection Council. Chapter- 3 includes establishment of Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies like District Forums, State Commissions and National Commission, there composition, jurisdiction and working process. Under Chapter-4, the Central Government and State Government may make the rules relating to the functioning of the Consumer For a and other miscellaneous matters. By using the powers of sub-section 2 of Section 30 of the Act the State Government has enacted Uttarakhand Consumer Protection Rules, 2011 by Notification No. 485/11-XIX-2/12 Food/2008 Dehradun, Dated 16thNovember, 2011.

In the Section 9 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 there is provisions for the establishment of three-level consumer disputes redressal agencies which include the National Commission in New Delhi, the State Commission in the capital of every state and atleast one District Forum in every district of the State. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, in short is known as National Commission, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in short is known as State Commission and the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in short is known as District Forum.The National Commission is established by the notification of Central Government whereas the State Commission and the District Forums are established by the notifications of the State Government concerned.

Establishment of State Commission and District Forums in the State

          In Uttarakhand, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission was established in the Year 2002. In District Dehradun, Haridwar, Uttarkashi, PauriGarhwal, TehriGarhwal, Chamoli, Pithoragarh, Almora, Nainital&Udham Singh Nagar, the Forum were established from the time of undivided U.P whereas in the districts of Rudraprayag, Champawat&Bageshar, Forumswere established in the year 2002. So, at present, a total number of 13 District Forums are functional in the State of Uttarakhand.

 

Provisions of the appointment of President/Members in the State Commission and District Forums

According to the Section 16(1) of the Act, in the State Commission has one President and such number of members as may be prescribed but not less than two members, and one of whom shall be a woman which are appointed by the State Government. According to Section 10(1), in District Forum has one President and two other members, one of whom shall be a woman, which are appointed by the State Government. The President of State Commission is a person who is or has been a Judge of a High Court, appointed by the State Government whereas the President of a District Forum is a person who is or has been a District Judge. The Members of State Commission as well as District Forumsare such persons who possess requisite qualifications and ageshould not be less than thirty –five years of age; possess a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university and be persons of ability, integrity and standing, and have adequate knowledge and experience of at least ten years in dealing with problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration.

According to the Section 16(1)(a) of the Act, the President of State Commission is appointed after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court by the State Government. For the appointment of President/Members of District Forum and Members of State Commission, the provisions are under Section 10(1)(a) and 16(1)(a) of the Act respectively according to which every appointment is made by the State Government on the recommendation of a Selection Committee consisting  of the following members, namely:-

(i)              President of the State Commission                           - Chairman

(ii)           Secretary of the Law Department of the State - Member

(iii)        Secretary incharge of the Department dealing

with Consumer Affairs in the State                           - Member

According to the Section 10(2) of the Act, President as well as Members of the District Forum are appointed for  a period of five years or up to the age of sixty five years, whichever falls earlier and according to Section 16(3) President as well as Members of the State Commission are appointed for a period of five years or up to the age of sixty seven years, whichever falls earlier. This is also a provision for reappointment of the members on the basis of the recommendation of the Selection Committee. 

Salaries/Honorarium and other allowances and terms and condition of the President and Members

In Section 10(3) and 16(2) of the Act respectively, salary or honorarium and other allowances, payable to, and the other terms and conditions of service  of, the President/Members of the State Commission and District Forums shall be such as may be prescribed by the State Government. According to the Section 16(1) of the Act, employed or retired judge is the President of State Commission. According to the rule 6 (1)(a) of Uttarakhand Consumer Protection Rule, 2011 the President of the State Commission receives the salary, allowances and other perquisites as are admissible to the Judge of the High Court if appointed on whole time basis, or a consolidated honorarium of Rs. 500/- (Rupees five hundred only) per day for the sitting if appointed on part time basis. The Member of the State Commission, if appointed on whole time basis, receives a consolidated honorarium of Rs. 15,262/- (Rupess fifteen thousand two hundred sixty two only) per month and if appointed on part time basis, a consolidated honorarium of Rs. 400/- (Rupees four hundred only) per day for the sitting. According to Rule 6 (1)(b) the President of the State Commission is entitled to rent free Government accommodation. If no such accommodation is provided to the President of the State Commission, he is entitled to house rent allowance as is payable to a Judge of the High Court. Rule 6(1)(c) describes that the President of the State Commission shall be entitled for Government vehicle and the diesel/petrol for such vehicle will be the same as is admissible to a Judge of the High Court. He is also entitled to all those perquisites and allowances which are admissible to a Judge of the High Court. According to Rule 6(1)(d) the Members of the State Commission get transport allowance of Rs. 2,500/- (Rupees two thousand five hundred only) per month. Under Rule 6(1)(e) the Members of the State Commission are entitled to rent free Government accommodation. If no such accommodation is provided to the Member of the State Commission, he gets a house rent allowance of Rs. 3,000/- (Rupees three thousand only) per month. According to Rule 6(1)(f) the Members of the State Commission, if appointed on full time basis, is entitled to such medical facilities as are available to a Grade-I officer of the State Government.

According to Rule 3(1)(a) of the Uttarakhand Consumer Protection Rule, 2011 the President of the District Forum receives the salary of the District Judge of a District Court if appointed on whole time basis or an honorarium of Rs. 400/- (Four hundred only) per day if appointed on part time basis. According to Rule 3(1)(b) the Member of the District Forum receives an honorarium of Rs. 10,176/- (Rupees Ten thousand one hundred seventy six only) per month if appointed on whole time basis or Rs. 300/- (Rupees three hundred only) per day if appointed on part time basis. Under Rule 3(1)(c), the President of the District Forum gets a House Rent Allowance of Rs. 2,400/- (Rupees two thousand four hundred only) per month if appointed on whole time basis and no Government Accommodation is provided to him. According to Rule 3(1)(d) the Member of the District Forum gets a House Rent Allowance of Rs. 1,800/- (Rupees one thousand eight hundred only) per month if no Government accommodation is provided to him.Under Rule 3(1)(e), the President of the District Forum gets a Transport Allowance of Rs. 1,830/- per month if appointed on whole time basis. According to Rule 3(1)(f) the Member of the District Forum shall get Transport Allowance of Rs. 1,830/- (Rupees one thousand eight hundred thirty only) per month if appointed on whole time basis and Rs. 50/- (Rupees fifty only) per day if appointed on part time basis.

According to the Rule 6(2) the President of the State Commission is eligible for such travelling allowance and daily allowance on official tour as are admissible to a Judge of the High Court whereas under Rule 6(3) and Rule 3(2) respectively the Members of the State Commission as well as President and the Members of the District Forum shall be eligible for such travelling allowance and daily allowance on official tour as are admissible to Grade-I officer of the State Government.

 Position of filled and vacant posts of Presidents and Members

Presently post of President as well Members in the State Commission are filled. According to the positions as on 31stMarch, 2017 post of the Presidents in all the District Forum are filled whereas one post of member (male) in district forum Dehradun, one post of member (female) in district forum Uttarkashi and one post of member (male) in district forum Pithoragarh are vacant.

Sanctioned Post of Officer/Employee for the State Commission/District Forums

          For the administrative control of the State Commission and to make the functioning of the district forums more dynamic, the President of State Commission is declared as the Head of the Department. One post of Registrar in the State Commission is sanctioned who is appointed from the officerof higher judicial service cadre for effective control in State Commission and District Forums.He is also the appointing authority of non-gazetted posts. In other than the post of President and Members in the State Commission as well as District Forums, one post of Personnel Officer, Senior Personnel Officer, Accountant, Administrative Officer, Head Assistant, Assistant Accountant,  Senior Assistant, two posts of Personnel Assistant and Junior Assistant, four post of Peon are sanction for the State Commission.

          For District Forums thirteen post each of Senior Assistant, Stenographer and Junior Assistants and a total no. of 17 posts of peon are sanctioned. In the full-time based forums namely Dehradun, Haridwar, Nainital and Udham Singh Nagar one post each of Sweeper is sanctioned through outsourcing.