Goyal calls for use of digital media for prompt handling of consumer complaints

Emphasizing speedy and affordable justice by consumer commissions across the country, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday urged all commissions to see how digital media such as WhatsApp and email can be generously used to issue complaints. notices, responses and other documents.

Goyal inaugurated the National Workshop on “Efficient and Prompt Redress of Consumer Disputes” with the Chairman and Members of the National Commission, the Chairman and Members of State Commissions and the Chairmen of Selected District Commissions as well as Principal Secretaries of State organized by the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Addressing a national workshop here, he said consumer commissions should religiously follow deadlines under the Consumer Protection Act 2019 to speed up the resolution of cases.

He said commissions should be able to decide cases within three to five months of filing, which will provide quick justice for consumers.

According to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Goyal said that to provide a faster and amicable way of resolving consumer disputes, the new law (Consumer Protection Act 2019 entered into force from July 2020) also introduces the reference of consumer disputes to Mediation, with the agreement of both parties.

“This will not only save time and money in resolving the dispute, but it will also help reduce the wait for cases. The government is also taking proactive steps to encourage the use of electronic mediation (e -mediation). of State as well as the National Commission have established mediation centers. I would like to ask all states and UT to expedite the establishment of mediation centers and the appointment of mediators,” he said.

The Union Minister stressed the importance of digitizing all documents that need to be submitted and urged all Commissions to implement electronic documentation and facilitate the online delivery of all documents and processes in order to enable hassle-free procedures for consumers.

He pointed out that simplifying the process leads to a more efficient and affordable justice system.

Goyal added that the late elimination and huge wait remain a major challenge for redressing consumer grievances.

He mentioned that according to the data of June 14, 2022, the wait at the National Commission was 22,608; The state commission was 1,49,608 and the district commission was 4,66,034.

He said those asking for repeated adjournments should also be dealt with. He suggested the wait can be reduced by grouping similar cases together and eliminating them together.

Emphasizing that “justice delayed is justice denied,” he said that just like electronic filing, importance should also be given to electronic destruction. He applauded the progress of the e-daakhil portal which allows online filing of consumer complaints and urged authorities to facilitate virtual hearings in all cases.

The Union Minister said that to expedite the resolution of cases, the 2019 law provides that the district commission sends a copy of the admitted complaint within 21 days from the date of its admission to the opposing party.

“The other party must provide its response within 30 days, which can be extended by a maximum of 15 days. These initiatives are expected to reduce delays and speed up the resolution of cases. ‘they work of their own free will in the interests of consumers and to deal with the oldest pending cases first,’ he added.

He insisted that the consumer is king and the consumer is at the center of all Indian government activities.

“Therefore, the state commissions should strengthen the infrastructure for which the Center will provide support,” he added.

Goyal further stressed that it should be the moral responsibility of all who work in consumer commissions to view their work not just as work but as service to citizens.

The Union Minister was optimistic that in six months, on National Consumer Day in December 2022, the commissions would be able to review their work with a view to dealing with complaints quickly.

He further proposed that the services of BIS and NABL accredited laboratories could be used by consumer commissions for the rapid resolution of consumer complaints that require product testing and analysis.

Following the inaugural event, technical sessions were held with the aim of discussing the fundamental issues facing various consumer commissions and addressing these concerns with the support of legal provisions and technology.

Some key issues that were discussed during the technical sessions were: deliberations with voluntary consumer organizations, the current status of vacancies and pending cases in state and district commissions and the prescription of a framework for the efficient and expeditious resolution of consumer grievances, the current status of e-filing in state and district boards, the popularization of mediation as a pre-litigation measure in consumer redress, and suggestions for making e-filing l consumers’ preferred option, current status of mediation in state and district commissions and suggestions for establishing an effective mechanism of mediation as prescribed in the Consumer Protection Act 2019, the current status infrastructure in state and district commissions and suggestions for improving these and others.

The format requesting details of current infrastructure availability and future needs has been distributed to state and district commissions. Based on the response received, DoCA will review the gaps and provide facilities as needed.

Department of Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh, Additional Secretary Nidhi Khare, Joint Secretary Anupam Mishra and Vineet Mathur attended the event along with other senior officials, chairpersons and members of consumer committees and organizations consumer volunteers.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Daniel C. Williams