Supreme Court directs Centre to frame model rules for Consumer Courts

Concerned over the working of consumer courts including the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, the Supreme Court has directed the union government to come up with model rules prescribing objective norms for the administration of consumer courts within four months. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur has called for a systemic overhaul of the entire infrastructure to prevent the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 from becoming a dead letter.

In order to strengthen the mechanisms protecting consumers from unfair trade practices, the Supreme Court has issued directions clarifying the role, powers and functions of the National Consumer Commission, State consumer commissions and district consumer forums. The Court has also asked the government to fill up the vacancies in these courts.

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 aims to provide consumers with effective safeguards against different types of exploitation such as defective goods, unsatisfactory services and unfair trade practices.

It protects the interests of consumers by establishing three-tier quasi-judicial consumer dispute redressal machinery at the National, State and District levels for settlement of consumer disputes. These are called Consumer Fora and they are quasi-judicial bodies. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 recognizes six of the eight rights of the consumer as provided in the UN charter.

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