WHEELS TURN EXCRUCIATINGLY SLOW
The Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986, provides for quick disposal of cases within three months. But consumer courts take, on an average, three years to pass a verdict, except in case of products requiring laboratory testing.
According to the Consumer Association of India (CAI), cases have been pending for more than a decade! In 2002, CAI had filed a complaint against a supermarket chain for selling a packet of imported dates infested with worms. The second case pertained to a water manufacturing unit claiming to sell herbal water. It has been pending since 2004.
Moreover, there seems to be no cap on the number of adjournments sought by litigants as part of their delaying tactics. In a case registered by the CAI and the Department of Civil Supplies against a spurious tea producer in 2006, the State Commission of Tamil Nadu had slapped a fine of Rs 25 lakh. The manufacturer then moved the National Commission. Now, after three years, the case has been reverted to the state commission. In 2000, Savithri Anandraman filed a complaint against Hindustan Lever (now Hindustan Unilever) after she found glass pieces in a jam bottle. The district forum awarded a compensation of Rs 40,000 only in 2013.