Pune: Even as the Pune district consumer forum completed 15 years yesterday, the story isn't much different as to when it started. Disputes between builders and property buyers take the bulk of cases filed before the forum.
Of the 23,000-odd cases filed, over 20 per cent pertain to cases filed in housing cases.
However, consumer activists said that while disputes between property holders and developers has always taken top slot, an increasing trend is the rising number of cases filed by people against medicos for negligence as well as insurance and banking companies.
Statistics obtained from the two registers of the Pune district Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum and Additional Pune District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum from the time it started in Pune in 1995 till February 2014, a total 23,124 cases have been filed in both the forums of which 21,304 cases have been disposed off while 1,800 cases are pending.
Anjali Deshmukh, president of the one of the two forums told dna, said that most cases pertain to builder-related issues like conveyance deed not done, inadequate water supply, promised facilities not offered etc.
"However, these days, the number of cases of medical negligence and against insurance companies is rising," she said.
Pranali Sawant, former president of the forum, said, "In the forum, 80 per cent cases talk about deficiency in service and defective goods but the forum is not restricted to just that. People can also file complaints for unfair trade practices, misleading the customers with offers etc. Secondly, the Consumer Protection Act is very powerful if the execution of order is not followed then the defaulters property is disposed off and the amount is given to the complainant. But such powers are given to the district collector."
She added that the forum can only direct but the final execution is done by the collector and hence their scope is limited.
Meanwhile, consumer activists complain of high pendency affecting hopes of complainants.
Suryakant Pathak, Pune district working president of Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat, said, "The major issue in the forum is that the cases must be disposed off in 90 days span. In 90 days, only 980 cases were decided and in 150 days only 5,751 cases were decided. Many a times, it has been noticed that the president gives his view but the members don't. At each forum there should be two members but it is noticed that only one member is present."
Take heed consumers
Lawyer Rishikesh Ganu said, "Many citizens do not need all the terms and policy related to insurances company and later such insurance companies try to play the blame game. Before enrolling and investing money in any such insurance company read in depth, take help of experts and then invest."
Sawant has tips for consumers, "Citizens often do not understand the importance of receipt and the payment made in cash. If you purchase an article and it is found to be defective, then the onus lies with the shopkeeper, but the shopkeeper cannot claim that it's not his responsibility. When a consumer pays them and make his signature over a receipt then both the shopkeeper and the owner have underwent into a contract," she added.
How to apply
Forum is constituted under the relevant sections of The Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
There is no need of lawyers as the complainant can represent the case themselves.
As per the new rules, the complainant has to first send a notice and give prior intimidation to respondent against whom he is planning to file the suit. For the claim of Rs1 lakh, compensation has to be paid of Rs100 for postal order along with Rs10 for commission and some additional amount to the court of keeping his brief in save custody charges.
For claim of Rs5 lakh, compensation has to have Rs200 postal stamp, Rs20 as commission. For Rs10 lakh compensation, he has to pay Rs400 along with Rs 40 commission and for Rs20 lakh compensation they have to pay a postal charges of Rs400.
It is a mandatory clause that the cases filed must be solved within 90 days.
Category/ Cases/ Disposed off/ Pending
Banking/ 1,536/ 1,400/ 136
Medical/ 402/ 342/ 60
Telephone/ 822/ 785/ 37
Insurance/ 2,158/ 1,979/ 179
Housing/ 5,579/ 4,992/ 587
Electricity/ 1,283/ 1,130/ 153
Airlines/ 50/ 45/ 5
Railways/ 79/ 78/ 1
Others/ 11,195/ 10,553/ 642
Total/ 23,114/ 20,304/ 2,810