Consumer courts vacancies: SC warns states of imposing costs on officers concerned


The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed its discontent over some state governments failing to furnish information in connection with vacancies and infrastructure for consumer courts in their territories.

A bench, headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, said the court is not inclined to waste judicial time over parties defaulting in the matter and warned the state governments that it would impose a cost of Rs one to two lakh for recovery from the officers concerned.

Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, amicus curiae in the matter, contended before the bench that a number of state governments — Goa, Delhi, Rajasthan, Kerala and Punjab have not submitted information for staff and Bihar has submitted a status report for infrastructure.

The top court said: “This results in a considerable time period of courts being spent. We will impose exemplary costs on defaulting states for wastage of judicial time for recovery against officers.”

It told the state governments that filling up vacancies and providing adequate infrastructure was their job.

“So, what is the judicial intervention required to ask the states to perform their obligation under the Statute. Please appreciate the scope of the Consumer Protection Act,” said the bench, adding that it is to redress the small aspect of daily lives of the consumers.

During the hearing, emphasising on respect for time schedules, it noted: “Unfortunately it throws the hearing out of gear for the simple reason that we don’t seem to discipline ourselves with any sense of time.”

The top court emphasised that posts should be manned in order to address grievances of the people.

“That’s all that is required,” it said, pointing out that in the absence of a detailed report from the states, it was a little bit of stumbling in the dark.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on December 1.

The top court was hearing a suo motu matter related to vacancies and infrastructure in consumer courts across the country.

Last month, the top court had asked the states to provide details of infrastructure available to consumer fora to the amicus curiae within a week, and if states were to fail, then it would seek personal appearance of the Secretary concerned.