Much to the respite of consumers, the government had established a court in Srinagar in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir to deal with consumer complaints, disputes and grievances, however, since the abrogation of the state’s limited autonomy it has been shut leaving people of the region in a fix.
With the abrogation of the region’s special status the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 turned inapplicable due to which the court was closed.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 came into effect in July 2020 that was made applicable to J-K under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, replacing the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 under which the court was established in the region.
However, following its closure, people in the region are facing hardships as the government is yet to notify the establishment of the consumer court under new laws applicable to the region despite the passing of over two years.
Consumers complain that neither they are able to file new complaints nor the already filed complaints are resolved.
Shoaib Bhat, an industrialist and a client of the consumer court said that the court was instrumental in solving issues faced by traders as well as consumers till it was shut. “Now in absence of the court in Srinagar we have to go to Delhi for the grievance redressal, which is impossible,” said Bhat.
He said, “several cases are pending at the court and are not being heard for the past two years, adding to the difficulties of the people.” Bhat demanded that the court should resume its work immediately.
A senior official in Srinagar confirmed to The Kashmir Walla that the court is closed since the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 turned invalid and said that the process of establishment of courts under new central law applicable to the region is under process.
He said, “Consumer court was closed after the state of Jammu and Kashmir was made a Union Territory. Establishment of courts under the new law is in progress as the formalities have been almost completed.”
He said that it is expected that the courts will start functioning in 2-3 months.
“Under the new law, every district in Jammu and Kashmir will have a consumer court. Jurisdiction of district courts as per the new law will be to settle cases up to the amount of 1 crore rupees,” the official said.
The purpose of establishing a separate forum for consumer disputes was to ensure speedy resolution of disputes with minimum inconvenience and expense to consumers.
The consumer court was seen as accessible and less expensive as under the consumer law, there was no need to appoint a lawyer or an advocate to file a case.