An NGO has shot off a letter to the Chief Minister complaining about the massive space crunch faced by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The NGO, Help Mumbai Foundation, warns that a backlog of about 5,000 cases will build up annually if additional courts are not set up.
According to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the commission is ideally supposed to dispose of every case within 90 days of its filing.
At present, there are about 8,000 cases pending before the court, with 75 to 100 cases being disposed of every month. On an average 25 cases are filed every day before the two benches of the commission in the city.
When the commission was set up in 1989, it was allotted space in Vashi. It was later relocated to CST, following public demand for the move and requests from advocates.
Giving a break-up of the available space and its utilisation in the letter, the NGO states that the commission premises in south Mumbai occupy a total area of about 3,000 sq ft, of which the main bench occupies about 300 sq ft while the second bench makes do with 100 sq ft.
The letter states that an area of 200 sq ft is occupied by the Consumer Court Advocates Association, while another 200 sq ft room is for the record room.
While two registrars’ chambers take up 70 to 80 sq ft each, the rest of the staff of about 40 functions out of a space of approximately 400 sq ft. The president has a chamber of about 120 sq ft and other members of the commission occupy cubicles of some 20 sq ft each.
The NGO states that the passage area takes up the rest of the space. “These arrangements and the allocation of the space speak volumes,” the letter states. “The space is absolutely inadequate.”
The letter warns that at the current rate of 25 new cases every day, there will be about 6,000 cases filed every year.
Besides the two benches in the city, there are four courts of the commission in the state, two in Aurangabad and two in Nagpur. In the city, the NGO contends that even if the number of benches were to be increased to cope with the workload, there would be no room to accommodate these additional courtrooms on the existing premises.
As CST, where the two city benches are located, has been declared a green zone by the BMC, no vertical development can take place there.
In this light, the letter suggests other premises be freed up and allotted for use as courtrooms to facilitate litigants.