Clearing backlog is high on the agenda of the new president of the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, retired Bombay High Court Justice A P Bhangale. Among the requirements he lists to achieve the task is at least 10,000 square feet of space for working at full strength, and eight commission members in Mumbai to hear cases, some of which date back to 2000.
A day after taking over as commission president, Justice Bhangale said reducing pendancy of cases was high on his agenda. “I am looking at early disposal of cases and early implementation of orders passed. There are some cases pending since 2000 and some that are sine die (those with no date set for resumption). We will look to solve such cases through alternative methods like mediation,” he said.
The commission in Mumbai is functioning with four members, a fifth member is posted at the commission’s bench in Pune. “We are working here at 50% strength. We need eight members and four courtrooms to hear cases. We need a space of at least 10,000 square feet,” he said. The court currently functions out of the ground floor of a government building in Kala Ghoda and has one courtroom.
“We also need chambers for each member, a registrar’s office (currently located near CST station) and bar rooms for men and women,” he said.
Justice Bhangale added that the court’s functioning needs to be digitised to enable quick disposal of cases. “Online filing of complaint and use of video-conferencing will help dispose of cases. According to the Supreme Court guidelines, we are supposed to dispose of cases within 90 days,” he said.
The Consumer Protection Bill 2015, pending in Parliament, he said, will simplify things once enacted. “The act will clarify definition of term service provider and help bring down pendancy,” he said.
Justice Bhangale took over the commission on Tuesday, after a four month vacancy created by the resignation of the previous president, Justice R C Chavan. Justice Bhangale, who began as a judge in 1989 at the Bombay Civil and Sessions Court, served as Principal Judge of that court, besides as chairman of the Motor Accidents Tribunal and Principal Secretary in the Law and Judiciary Department, Maharashtra.