Self-satisfaction is a crucial factor in today’s rapidly evolving technological world. In the same way, customer happiness is critical for manufacturers, producers, and storekeepers. A consumer is someone who not only buys but also utilizes and consumes a product. He is the product’s end-user. Consumers purchase products and services for their enjoyment, and they pay for the items and services they use. Consumers have a critical influence on the country’s economy. They also play an essential part in the marketing society and distribution chain. However, if a corporation fails to provide satisfactory service to its consumers, the customer has the right to seek compensation or submit a complaint with various consumer courts or forums.
Consumer protection has long been a major concern, dating back to the Middle Ages. Everyone has been concerned about unfair trading practices, from Muslims to British monarchs. Various laws and statutes were passed during British control to protect the interests of consumers, including the Indian Contract Act 1872, the Sales and Goods Act 1930, and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940. But these acts and laws provide specific legal protection. As a result, the Indian parliament passed the Consumer Protection Act, with the primary goal of providing consumers with affordable and speedy justice.
CONSUMER COURTS IN INDIA
The consumer’s courts in India are set up under the Consumer Protection Act 1986 by the Indian parliament to protect the interest of the consumers. The consumer courts are a quasi-judicial body, where ordinary and common men can seek justice against their offenders. Under this act, consumers dispute agencies were set up those deals with the grievances, conflicts, and disputes of consumers. These forums are set with the aim to provide fair justice to the consumers if they are cheated or exploited by the companies or the seller. his serves as a three-tiered mechanism for resolving customer issues. One at the district level, one at the state level, and one at the national level. Each court deals with different types of cases according to the claim for compensation.
- District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission-
These forums operate at the district level and deal with the cases that have a claim for compensation of not more than 20 lakhs rupees.
- State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission-
These forums work on the state level and deal with all the cases that have a claim for compensation of more than 20 lakhs rupees but less than 1 crore rupees.
- National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission-
These are the apex courts and operate on the national level. They deal with the cases that have a claim for compensation of more than 1 crore rupees.
ISSUES IN WORKING OF THE CONSUMER COURTS
The introduction of the Consumers Court Act in 1986 was hailed as a significant changeover that would engage consumers to review their complaints with the least expense. However, during past years various reports have shown that these courts are working with less than adequate performance and with less potential because of various reasons. The various reasons and issues which lead to inadequate performance of consumer courts are-
The states have insufficient funds to develop and run their courts. The Center court doesn’t give them enough assets to run the courts. The Center calls attention to that purchaser issues is a state subject; and that however, it gives them gives, the states neither use it well nor do they supplement it with their help. These courts do not have enough benches to hear consumer grievances. As a result, many cases are pending in these courts. There always remain vacancies in these benches which leads to blockage and delay in providing justice.There is no clear division of funds between the state and the center. As a result, the state and center could not improve infrastructure, add judicial, and better administrative staff. The stats level courts don’t focus on consumers’ problems and affairs. They pay less attention to their problems as they deal with affairs of public distribution and civil supplies these affairs are more profitable and gainful to them. There is a lack of will and initiative at both the State and center levels. The absence of will in the organization at the Center and the states has guaranteed a burial ground for consumer affairs. The present infrastructure is unable to handle the magnitude and volume of the cases at district and state-level consumer forums. The staff in these organizations is very well trained and gave less interest in their work. There are adequate record rooms. The files are misplaced, torn, and sometimes are destroyed because of some other conditions. The staff and the members working in these forums are not paid well. Their salaries are less than those of a government employee. Even their remuneration gets delayed sometimes. This led to a lack of motivation among them.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND MEASURES
Sufficient accessible for somewhere around four sitting seats of the State Commission. Every one of them ought to be in one spot, and be enough staffed, both as far as numbers and training. Individuals from the Consumer Forum ought to be given compensation proportionate to their work. Their positions are comparable to a locale judge, senior division, so they ought to be paid on a similar scale. Consumer courts should be treated with a similar level of regard as civil courts. That is, the offices ought to be of similar quality and number and the members should be treated with due respect. Proper steps of funding should be used to provide funds to the three-tier system. An equal fund should be given to each level for the development of its staff and for developing infrastructure facilities. Development of proper infrastructure facilities like proper record rooms, clean drinking water, restrooms and toilets, and courtrooms. These forums should focus on consumer rights rather than focusing on paperwork. The government should encourage state governments and local governments to set up consumer forums in each state and district that will help in providing speedy justice. The procedure for filing cases and complaints in these forums should be made simple and short.
Without fulfilled and satisfied consumers, no market, no society, no nation, can create or advance or even endure. Consumers must get full and ideal redressal for their complaints. As a result, our government needs to improve the working of consumers courts. The government had introduced various policies to improve the conditions but the result of these policies is vain because of no statutory powers. The center is always concerned about the economic development of the country and introduces various policies to improve the economic climate. However, policymakers and administrators should comprehend that without a viable, current, refreshed, and satisfied consumer protection structure, these policies will be much the same as watering a dead plant. Customers are the foundation of the economy and no genuine advancement can happen without protecting their inclinations.
Author(s) Name: Kanchi Agrawal (Bennett University, Greater Noida)
 Consumer protection Act: History, Definition, Forums and Evaluation, (yourarticlelibrary, 8th August 2021) https://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/consumer-behaviour/consumer-protection/consumer-protection-act-history-definition-forums-and-evaluation/64207
 Consumer Protection Act, 1986
 ‘Consumers finally get quick redressal, but major problems remain’,(indiatoday, 8th August, 2021) https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/nation/story/19921231-consumers-finally-get-quick-redressal-but-major-problems-remain-767340-2012-12-21
 Anand Patwardhan, ‘We must treat our consumer courts better’, The Hindu (Mumbai, 31st July, 2016) <https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/We-must-treat-our-consumer-courts-better/article14518431.ece> accessed on 8th August 2021
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