Defunct forum: Aggrieved consumers in dilemma after years of struggle

SRINAGAR: Ghulam Mohammad Parray is an aggrieved consumer who sued an insurance company in Jammu and Kashmir state consumer disputes redressal forum for not compensating damages suffered in 2014 floods.
The Srinagar resident had suffered massive damages to his business establishment in the deluge. But after five years of struggle when the case was in its final stage of settlement, he is in dilemma after the government brought down curtains on the consumers’ forum.
“I don’t know what to do now. It seems all the work I had done is lost,” Parray said, “During these years, the court had made the company agree to pay for the losses which otherwise it was reluctant.”
The government has closed consumers’ forum apart from other quasi-judicial bodies including human rights commission leaving fate of hundreds of cases in limbo. The forum, which was meant to allow consumers to challenge grievances, was ordered to handover official records, buildings and vehicles to their respective departments.
An official of the commission told Kashmir Reader that about 10,000 cases were undergoing trial, some of which were at the final stage, when the consumers’ body was shut.
“There is an absolute chaos among aggrieved consumers, lawyers, and employees,” said advocate N A Shalla, who is president of JK Consumer Lawyers Association. “Consumers whose cases were being heard don’t know what will happen to them. Cases which were disposed remain unsettled because judgments could not be executed,” Shalla added.
According to him, the President of India had signed an order for keeping the forum intact until replacement is made.
On October 30, ministry of home affairs (department of JK affairs) issued ‘removal of difficulties order’ which stated that any authority constituted under any law in the state of Jammu and Kashmir shall be deemed to have been constituted until a new authority is constituted under the law.
“But it was not implemented and as a result consumers are affected,” Shalla said.
An official from the law department, however, said that the forum came into being under the laws of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state.
But after the abrogation of Article 370, which guaranteed the state special status in Indian constitution and prevented direct application of laws made by Parliament of India, the commission has to function under laws of central law, he said.
‘This was done to bring the JK at par with any other state. In consumer commission case, there seem to be lack of coordination,” the official added.
Director of consumer affairs department Muhammad Qasim Wani told Kashmir Reader that the commissions will remain defunct until new order for its reconstitution is issued.
He denied the government of India had issued an order for keeping the forum intact.

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