Is the violation of consumer rights rampant all over the country?
Data obtained from the Andhra Pradesh (AP) State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission gives startling figures. It shows that 5,980 cases were pending in at the end of 2012 in AP out of which the number of pending cases in three consumer forums of Hyderabad was the maximum among all forums till date and numbered 1,502. 1435 cases out of these have accrued between 2010 and 2012. Hyderabad initially had one forum to which one forum each was added in 1995 and 1998 respectively to overcome the rising number of consumer cases.
The number of petitions filed over the past years has declined as is evident from the following data:
- 755 petitions were filed in 2012
- 1,137 petitions were filed in 2011 and
- 1,190 petitions were filed in in 2010.
Activists have attributed it to the cynicism amongst the consumers. The Consumer Protection Act prescribes disposal of a consumer petition in 90 days which is hardly followed. The rate of disposal had dropped over the years leading to erosion of faith amongst the citizens. Lack of awareness has been another cause for the consumers not using the CPA. There has been some confusion whether an applicant who pays a fee of Rs 10 for seeking information under the Right to Information (RTI), Act should be treated as a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
The position in most states of the country remains similar. The violation of consumer rights is rampant all over the country and poor disposal rates of consumer petitions at the forums shakes the confidence in redressal mechanisms which calls for remedial measures.