Consumer court vacancies: SC imposes fine on state govts

The Supreme Court on Wednesday imposed fine on various state governments for non-compliance of its order to fill up vacancies in district and state consumer commissions.
Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India

New Delhi

Sending a strong message to the state governments, a bench comprising Justices S.K. Kaul and M.M. Sundresh said the states have to pay a fine for non-compliance of its order and also delay in filing the affidavit. The bench said this is the only language the state governments will understand, as it imposed a fine on states, which did not comply with its order to fill up vacancies in district and state consumer commissions.
In November last year, the top court said it is not inclined to waste judicial time over parties defaulting in the matter and warned the state governments that it would impose a cost of Rs one to two lakh for recovery from the officers concerned.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, amicus curiae in the matter, had then contended before the bench that a number of state governments -- Goa, Delhi, Rajasthan, Kerala and Punjab have not submitted information for staff and Bihar has submitted a status report for infrastructure.
The top court said: "This results in a considerable time period of courts being spent. We will impose exemplary costs on defaulting states for wastage of judicial time for recovery against officers." The top court told the state governments that filling up vacancies and providing adequate infrastructure was their job.
"So, what is the judicial intervention required to ask the states to perform their obligation under the Statute. Please appreciate the scope of the Consumer Protection Act", said the bench, adding that it is to redress the small aspect of daily lives of the consumers.
During the hearing, emphasizing on respect for time schedules, it noted, "unfortunately it throws the hearing out of gear for the simple reason that we don't seem to discipline ourselves with any sense of time."
The top court was hearing a suo motu matter related to vacancies and infrastructure in consumer courts across the country.

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