Reasons for the growing pendency of complaints
More complaints filed:
With greater awareness on consumer rights, there is a gradual rise in the number of complaints filed. However, the infrastructure and capacity of the quasi-judicial bodies have not increased over time, as a result of which they are saddled with a huge backlog of cases.
Retired judicial officers for adjudicating complaints:
Another reason that affects the dispensation is the hiring of retired judicial officers, who are not given any training for dealing with such cases. Some also say that since these judges are above 62 years of age, many of them have efficiency issues due to old age.
Members are poorly paid:
Members who are part of the benches in commissions and forums are poorly paid as compared to judicial members. Also, they are retired lower-rung government officials who have the least interest and caliber in the dispensation of justice.
No mediation facility:
Many of the petty complaints do not require any adjudication, but could be resolved through proper mediation. However, the same is unavailable at most of the district and state commissions. Experts suggest that mediation can check the number of consumer complaints by at least 30%.
Lawyers seeking adjournments:
One of the major factors for the growing pendency is the delay caused by lawyers by unnecessarily seeking adjournments. There are several occasions when the benches are in a mood to hear the arguments and decide a case, but lawyers keep on seeking dates, often to gain monetarily from the client.
Vacancies in forums and commissions:
There are a number of vacancies, both judicial and non-judicial, in district forums, state commissions, as well as NCDRC. The state governments still consider the commissions and forums a burden on them and are reluctant to spend on filling up the vacancies.
No punitive damages imposed:
According to organisations dealing with consumer rights, the state commissions and district forums seldom come out with a judgment imposing a considerable fine on those found guilty, which could set a precedent.
Lack of accountability and monitoring:
Another major factor is the lack of accountability of the judicial and nonjudicial members and poor monitoring of their functioning. Organisations working in this domain claim that many benches do not function properly and operate only for 3-4 hours a day.