NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION

BAGLA COMMITTEE REPORT

The National Commission was set up in the year 1988.Initially,37 posts of various categories were sanctioned by the Central Government for the Commission.Subsequiently, six more posts were created in terms of an order of the Supreme Court. Thus the total number of posts on the establishment of the Commission at present is 43 and shown in the statement at Annexure ‘A’.

There is a manifold increase in the filing of consumer cases in the Commission because of the steady growth of the consumer movement in the country. 17,805 cases have been filed in the Commission since its inception and presently 8,016 cases are pending for disposal. A statement showing the number of cases filed, disposed of and pending as on 1.11.1999 is annexed as Annexure ‘B’. In order to cope up with the increase in work and for its smooth functioning, the National Commission had taken up the matter with the Ministry of Food & Consumer Affairs for the creation of 35 additional posts in June 1996. The Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure has however, sanctioned five temporary posts viz. one post of Assistant Registrar, one post of Assistant, two posts of LDCs and one post of Stenographer Gr. ‘D’.

Section 20 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 deals with the National Commission. It consists of the President and four Members. The President of the Commission has to be a person, who is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court and is entitled to salary and perquisites as available to him in the Supreme Court.

A Judge of the Supreme Court is entitled to the following staff:-

Category of Staff   Scale of Pay   No.of Post
AR-cum-PPS  Rs. 11360-16040 1
Sr. P.A.   Rs. 6500 – 10500 1
Staff Car Driver Rs.3050  - 4590 1
Jamadar Rs.2610  - 3540 1
Peons  Rs.2550  - 3200 6

Similarly, the four Members of the National Commission are either former High Court Judges or Secretaries to the Government of India. A Judge of the High Court is entitled to the following staff:-

Category of Staff   Scale of Pay   No.of Post
PP S  Rs. 10000-15200 1
PA Rs. 5500 – 9000 1
Staff Car Driver Rs. 3050 – 4590 1
Peon Rs. 2550 – 3200 3

In view of the above, the President of the National Commission should be provided the same number of staff as is made available to a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court because he enjoys the same salary and perquisites as are available to a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court. The Members of the National Commission should, likewise, be provided the same staff as is given to a sitting High Court Judge except that only one peon each be posted with the Members. Further a staff car driver may be provided to them after decision on the availability of independent staff car for each Member is taken. In other words, a Principal Private Secretary, one Personal Assistant and one peon should be posted with the Member.

Two Court Masters/Readers, preferably shorthand knowing, should assist the Commision in the hearing of matters.  They should be Officers in the pay scale of Rs. 6500-10500.

The Office of the Commission is headed by the Registrar who is assisting the Commission in all administrative and judicial matters.  He also functions as Head of Office and exercise financial powers delegated to him by the Head of Department. One Grade ‘B’ Stenographer has been provided to the Registrar. However, only one peon attends to the Registrar and the Deputy Registrar. It is essential that a peon is provided exclusively to the Registrar as per his entitlement.

The Commission has presently no post of Joint Registrar. Section 24B of the Act lay downs that the National Commission shall exercise administrative control over all the state Commissions and through the State Commission over the District Forums. As such, the services of an officer of the level of Joint Registrar are essential for assisting the National Commission in performing its function of administrative control.

There is only one post of Deputy Registrar in the Commission who looks after the Judicial, Administrative and Accounts Sections. Keeping in view the volume of work involved, it is essential that there should be at least two posts of Deputy Registrars; One Deputy Registrar may look after the work on the judicial side and the other for the administrative side.

Originally, only one post of Assistant Registrar was sanctioned. One more post of Assistant Registrar has now been created by the Ministry of Finance.Assistant Registrars supervise the work of Judicial and Administration branches as well as preparation of daily cause list.

The post of Joint Registrar may be created in the pay scale of Rs. 14,300-18,300.The post of Deputy Registrar in this Commission is in the scale of Rs. 12,000-16,500 and are equivalent to Director and Deputy Secretary in the Govt. of India who are entitled to a Personal Assistant/Grade ‘C’, stenographer in the scale of Rs. 5500-9000. Therefore, one Stenographer may be provided to the Joint Registrar and one each to the Deputy Registrars.

The posts of Assistant Registrar in this Commission are in the pay scale of Rs. 10,1000-15,200 which is equivalent to the pay scale of an Under Secretary to the Govt. of India.A Stenographer Grade ‘D’ in the pay scale of Rs. 4000-6000 is attached with an Under Secretary.Two posts of Grade ‘D’ Stenographers in the scale of Rs. 4000-6000 maybe, therefore,  created for the Assistant Registrars.

One peon each with the Joint Registrar and Deputy Registrars and one peon for two Assistant Registrars may be provided in terms of Govt. of India’s instructions.

As the National Commission exercise three types of jurisdictions viz. Original, Appellate and Revisional, three independent Branches should be set up to deal with each of the three categories of cases.On the administration side, there should be an Establishment/Administration Branch and an Accounts Branch. An officer of the level of Section Officer in the scale of Rs. 6500-10,500 should be Incharge of the Judicial and Administration Sections respectively.The Establishment/Administration Branch and Accounts Branch should be supervised by an Officer of the level of Section Officer

Coming now to the staff strength in the Judicial Branches, it may be mentioned that as on 1.11.99. 1285 Original Petitions are pending. The entire work load is being handled by one UDC and one LDC. On account of acute shortage of staff, we are even utilizing the service of two Class –IV officials to assist the Original Branch staff. Considering the volume of work and highly inadequate staff, there is an utmost need to augment the strength of the Original Branch. While determining the staff strength of the District Forum and the State Commission, it has been stated that not more than 250 files should be earmarked for a seat to be manned by a Dealing Assistant and LDC. Adopting the same criteria, five Assistant and five LDCs should be provided for the Original Branch. In other words, four more posts of Assistant and four posts of LDCs should be created to cope with the existing load of work.

2,627 Appeals are pending at present. There is only one Assistant in the Branch. Here again, the services of Class-IV officials are being utilized. Needles to say that the lone officials in the Branch is over-burdened and staff strength must be increased commensurate with the work load. The follow up action in Appeals and Revisions is somewhat less compared to Original Petitions. It, therefore seems appropriate that posts should be created on the basis of 500 files per seat.  Considering the pendency, the work must be apportioned among five seats, each of which must be manned by an Assistant and LDC. To put it concretely, at least five Assistant and five LDCs should be posted in the Branch.  

The pendency in the Revision Petition Branch is the highest. 4,104 Revision Petitions are pending. Only three LDCs assisted by a couple of Class-IV officials are looking after the work of the Branch. The Revision Petitions filed in the Commission are first listed before the Commission and depending upon the order passed, follow up action is taken by the officials. To handle this work load, there should at least be eight Assistant and eight LDCs.

In the Administration Branch, we have only one Upper Division Clerk.  He is looking after the purchase of stores and stationery items. This Branch also deals with establishment matters which are dealt with by the Assistant Librarian because no official has been earmarked for establishment matters. Section Officers of Revision Petition Section is looking after the work of Administration/Establishment/Accounts Branch in addition to his duties. It is, therefore, incumbent that there should be an independent Section Officer, one Assistant and one UDC to look after Establishment/Administration/Accounts matters.

In Accounts Branch, only one Assistant has been provided.  He does not possess any accounting qualification like S.A.S. It is pertinent to mention that deposits are made in this Commission by the contending parties, in accordance with the orders of the Commission. Handling of these deposits viz. obtaining FDRs, enchasing them, making payment to parties etc. entails a lot of accounting work. Accounts Branch dealing with financial matters must, therefore, have an Officer of the level of Accounts Officer with requisite qualification and experience, one Assistant/Treasurer and one type knowing UDC.

There is no post of Translator in this Commission. Govt. of India has recently desired this Commission to forward a proposal for the creation of a post of Hindi Translator and Hindi typist. It is therefore, recommended that a post of Hindi Translator in the pay scale of Rs. 4000-6000 and one post of Hindi typist/LDC in the pay scale of Rs. 3050-4590 may be created.

The National Commission is an apex body deciding consumer complaints received from all over the country. Against the decision/order of the Commission, the consumers can approach the Hon’ble Supreme Court by way of an appeal. The Office has to maintain record of decided cases because the Registry of the Supreme Court calls for the original records from the Registry of the National Commission.  Presently, there is no post of Record Keeper and the Commission has disposed of about 9680 cases.  In order to maintain the record, one UDC, one LDC and one peon would be required.

A filing counter may be set up in the Commission for receiving complaints, Appeals and Revisions as well as for maintaining institution registers for issue/dispatch of Notices. One post of Assistant and one post of UDC may be created for the filing counter.

There is no satisfactory system of inspection of records by the Counsel/parties. A post of Assistant should be created and the incumbent appointed against this post may receive applications for inspection of records and make available the same under the supervision of the Registrar.

     National Commission is maintaining a Library for reference purposes, for which one Assistant Librarian and one Junior Library Attendant have been provided. As earlier stated, the Assistant Librarian is also looking after the establishment matters and, therefore, Is unable to devote to his work whole-heartedly. A post of Librarian may be created in addition to the post of Assistant Librarian and Junior Library Attendant.

There are three cars and two posts of Staff Car Drivers in this Commission. One of the three cars is for the President and thus there is one driver for two staff cars.  For the time being, a post of one staff car driver is required to be sanctioned, pending the decision on the availability of independent staff car for each Member.

A post of Despatch Rider is also essential for effecting service of notices issued by this Commission. This will result in considerable saving of postage used for issuing notices along with copies of Original Petitions. Appeals and Revision Petitions to the opposite parties for filing their version of case.

There are two photo-copier machines which are being operated by Class-IV officials. These machines are highly sensitive and unless these are handled by trained operators, there may be technical and operational problems. It is therefore, proposed that two posts of photo-copier operators may be created.

One Daftry for each of the Judicial Sections, Administration Section and Accounts Section may also be provided for arranging the record in the Branches.

One peon each may be provided in the three Judicial Branches, one in the Administration Branch and one in the Accounts Branch. Thus five posts of peons may be created.

The Office of the Commission is located on the 5th Floor in ‘A’ Wing and 7th Floor in ‘B’ Wing of Janpath Bhawan. One sweeper may be posted on each of the two floors forcleanliness of the building. There should also be two posts of Chowkidar.

In view of the position, as explained above, the following staff will be necessary for the National Commission:-

Registrar 1
Joint Registrar  1
Deputy Registrar     2
Assistant Registrar     2
AR-cum-PPS  1
PPS    4
Sr. P.A. 1+4
Court Master 2
Accounts Officer    1
S Os     4
Librarian   1
Grade ‘B’  Stenographer     1 (for Registrar)
Grade ‘C’ Stenographer 3 (for Joint Registrar and Deputy Registrar)
Grade ‘D’ Stenographer    2 (for Assistant Registrar)
Assistants : 22
Original Petition  5
First Appeal   5
Revision Petition 8
Establishment   1
Accounts 1
Filing Counter 1
Inspection Branch  1
U.D.C : 4
Record Room   1
Filing Counter 1
Administration  1
Accounts 1
L.D.C : 19
Original Petition   5
First Appeal 5
Revision Petition  8
Record Room 1
 
Hindi Translator 1
Hindi Typist  1
Asstt. Librarian   1
Junior Library Attendant  1
Daftry   5
Staff Car Driver 3 (one for President and two for the Office)
Jamadar  1
Peons  21
Despatch Rider  1
Photo-copier Operator  2
Sweeper 2
Chowkidar 2

STATE CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSIONS

Section 16 of the Consumer Protection Act lays down that a State Commission shall consist of a President and two Members. The President of the State Commission has to be a person who is or has been a judge of the High Court.

A Judge of a High Court is entitled to the following staff; in addition to three peons:-

i) PPS/PS -1 (In the pay scale of Rs. 10,000-15,200)

ii) Personal Assistant -1 (In the pay scale of Rs. 5500-9000)

iii) Staff Car Driver -1 (In the pay scale of Rs. 3050-4590)

The President of the State Commission may be given this staff. As regards Peons, a consolidated recommendation is being made separately, out of which the President may have peons.

For Members personal staff may consist of two Stenographers in the pay scale of Rs. 5500-9000 and 2 Peons in the pay scale of Rs. 2550-3200.

A Court Master/Reader may be provided to assist the President and Members of the State Commission in the Court.  This officer should be in the pay scale of Rs. 5500-9000.

The State Commission should have a Registrar in the pay scale of Rs. 8,500-13,500/-. He will assist the State Commission in all judicial and administrative matters. A shorthand knowing LDC in the pay scale of Rs. 3050-4590/- who may work as Personal Assistant to the Registrar and one Peon may be provided to him.

The State Commission exercise Original, Appellate and Revisional jurisdiction. Therefore, two sections may be created – one for the Original Petitions and the other for Appeals and Revisions. A post of  Administrative Officer (Class-II) may be created for an overall charge of these Sections. Each section should be headed by an officer of the rank of Dy. Superintendent in the pay scale of Rs. 5000-8000. In each of these judicial sections, seats of dealing assistant may be created to handle 250 files per seat. The dealing assistant should be assisted by an LDC. Thus one Assistant and one LDC should be provided in each of the two sections for every 250 files. The total number of staff in the judicial sections can, therefore, be worked out keeping in view the total number of pending files dealt with therein and adopting the criteria of 250 files for one Assistant and one LDC. Besides, one Peon may be posted in each section.

In the State Commissions, orders are at times dictated in regional language because the consumers are not conversant with the English language. We, therefore, recommend that a post of regional language, Stenographer in the scale of Rs. 4000-6000 may be created.

A Post of Assistant and a type knowing LDC may also be created for the Establishment/Administration Branch. Accounts Branch of the State Commission should be supervised by an Accountant in the pay scale of Rs. 5500-9000.  One Bill Clerk and a type knowing LDC may be provided in the Accounts Branch for its smooth functioning.

A good Library is absolutely essential for a quasi-judicial body like the State Commission. Therefore, a trained Librarian in the pay scale of Rs. 5500-9000 may be posted for manning the library.

A filing counter may be created for receiving complaints, appeals and revisions, for maintaining institution registers and issue/despatch of notices. There should be two clerks and one peons for the Filing Counter in the pay scale of Rs. 3050-4590 and Rs. 2550-3200 respectively.

An LDC and one Peon will be necessary for inspection of record which will be made available by them under the supervision of the Registrar.

A record room may be set up in each of the State Commissions for keeping files of decided cases. One LDC and one Peon may be posted in the record room for arranging files, entering in the Access register and for weeding out the record.

A Post of Despatch Rider is also essential for effecting service of notices issued by the State Commission. This will save considerable amount incurred on postage for sending copies of the complaints appeals revision petitions to enable the opposite party(s) to file its/their versions of the case.

Two posts of Daftry, two posts of Sweeper and two posts of Chowkidar may also be sanctioned, keeping in view the requirements of the office as well as the President and Members of the Commission. To sum up, the staff requirement of the State Commission wil be as under:-

Category of Staff No. of Post
For President
PPS/PS   1
PA 1
Staff Car Driver 1
For Members
Stenographers   2
For Office
Registrar 1
A.O. (Group ‘B’) 1
Dy. Superintendent   2 (1each for Original and Appellate/
Court Master 1
Accountant 1
Librarian 1
Assistant (s) for Branches  
Regional language Steno.   1
LDC(s) for Branches   
P.A. to Registrar/Shorthand Knowing LDC 2
Filing Clerks (LDC) 1
Inspection Clerk (LDC) 1
Record Keeper (LDC) 1
LDC for Estt. Branch  1
Bill Clerk (LDC) 1
Typist (LDC for A/cs. Branch)   1
 Despatch Rider   1
Daftry 2
Peons 10 (for President, Members, Registry,two branches and five Offices)
Sweeper 2
Chowkidar 2

Note : One Assistant and One LDC for every 250 pending files. The number of Posts may Be sanctioned keeping in view the total pendency.

For the States which have a pendency of less than 500 cases, the staff strength shall be as follows : -

Category of Staff  No. of Post
For President
PPS/PS   1
PA 1
Staff Car Driver 1
For Members
Stenographers   1
For Office
Registrar 1
Court Master 1
Accountant 1
P.A. to Registrar 1
Assistant 1
L.D.C 1
U.D.C 1
Typist 1
Peons 1
Sweeper 1
Chowkidar 1

This staff shall look after the judicial, the administrative and the library work.  

CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL FORUMS

Section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act lays down that each District Forum shall consist of a President and two other Members. The President of the District Forum has to be a person who is, or who has been, or is qualified to be a District Judge.

In Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1141 of 1988, Common Cause vs. Union of India & Ors. the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 7th January, 1993 directed that if the work load of a District Forum exceeds the minimum monthly load of 150 cases consistently for a period of six months, a regular independent District Forum as envisaged by Section 9 of the Act should be established.

A District Judge is an Officer in the scale of Rs. 18,400-22,400, which is equivalent to the scale of Joint Secretary to the Govt. of India. Govt. of India’s instructions provide that a Joint Secretary is entitled to a Private Secretary in the scale of Rs. 6500-10,000 and a peon in the scale of Rs. 2550-3200. As regards the two Members of the District Forum, one stenographer in the scale of Rs. 4000-6000 and one peon in the scale of Rs. 2550-3200 may be provided for them. There should also be a post of Court Master in the pay scale of Rs. 5500-9000 to assist the President and the Members in the ‘Court’.

The Registry of the District Forum should be headed by the Registrar who should be of the rank of Superintendent in the State Government, which post carries the pay scale of Rs. 5500-9000. His duties will involve assisting the Forum in Judicial and administrative matters.

The District Forum exercise only Original Jurisdiction. With a view to create seats of dealing hands in the Judicial Section, the work load should first be assessed in terms of pending files. These files may be assigned to various dealing hands who will be responsible for taking all follow-up action as per the orders of the Forum/Bench. Each dealing hand of the level of UDC, assisted by an LDC, should handle at least 250 files. Thus, taking into consideration the total number of pending files and the yardstick of 250 files for a nucleus of one UDC and one LDC, the staff requirement in the Judicial Section may be worked out.  One peon will also be required for the Judicial Section.

The Registrar of the District Forum may also look after the work relating to maintenance of Library, preparation of pay bills, T.A. bills etc. and for maintaining the books of accounts and keeping the bank guarantees which are taken from the parties in pursuance of the orders of the District Forum. However, one accounts knowing UDC in the scale of Rs. 4000-6000 may assist the Registrar in the work.

Presently there is no satisfactory arrangement for receiving the complaints and for issue or dispatch of notices as well as inspection of cases in the Forum. There should be one post of Clerk in the scale of Rs. 3050-4590 for receiving the complaints, maintaining the institution registers and issue or dispatch of notices and inspection of cases. A post of Despatch Rider is also essential for effecting service of notices issued by the District Forum. This will save considerable amount incurred on postage for sending copies of the complaints to enable the opposite party (s) to file its/their version of the case.

There is an absence of a Record Room in most of the District Forum, as a result of which the files are not properly arranged and entered in the Access Register. The decided cases, therefore, cannot be traced out without avoidable loss of time. To begin with, one LDC and one Peon should be provided with duties of arranging the files in the Record Room, entering the same in the Access register and to take follow up action for weeding out the old records.

One post of Safaiwala/Chowkidar be also sanctioned for cleanliness of the office of the forum.

In view of the position, as explained above, the following staff will be necessary for a District Forum :-

Category of Staff  No. of Post
P.S. 1
Registrar (in the scale of Superintendent)  1
Court Master 1
Steno 1
U.D.C.   
L.D.C.  
Receipt & Despatch Clerk (LDC) 1
Record Keeper (LDC) 1
Accounts Knowing UDC 1 (will look after the library work)
Peons 4
Safaiwala 1
Despatch Rider 1
Chowkidar  1

Note :  One UDC and one LDC for every 250 pending files.

In the smaller districts where less than 150 cases are pending, the strength will be UDC-1, LDC-1, 3 Peons, 1 Chowkidar cum Safaiwala. The UDC will look after the library work also.

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