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Consumer rights awareness in media disappearing: Sivadhar

Consumer rights awareness in media disappearing: Sivadhar
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Visakhapatnam: Commissioner of Police B Sivadhar Reddy observed that consumer rights awareness in the media has been on the decline when compared to...

Visakhapatnam: Commissioner of Police B Sivadhar Reddy observed that consumer rights awareness in the media has been on the decline when compared to the 1990s. He was addressing a meeting organised by the Consumers' Protection Council to mark the occasion of World Consumer Rights Day here on Friday. Recalling the 1990s, Mr Reddy said the media used to give wide publicity highlighting how a consumer has won a particular petition filed in the District Consumer Forums and how compensation was awarded to the complainant with regard to unfair trade practice or deficiency in service along with the observations of Forum president and the members. Stating that everybody in the society was a consumer, he pointed out that 'negligence' was still prevalent among consumers, who were leaving alone the traders who cheated them, with an attitude of 'let others do the legal fight'. "It's quite surprising to note that many people in Visakhapatnam, the second largest city next to Hyderabad, are being cheated in various ways even today," he said. Indirectly hinting at many private finance companies which recently closed shutters, the Police Commissioner questioned how they could give 18 per cent interest to the customer if he deposited Rs 1 lakh and 30 per cent commission to the agent while the nationalised banks were not giving more than eight per cent per annum. "Customers who were benefitted by such bogus finance companies in the initial stages too are coming to the police to file complaints. How can they be considered whether they are victims or beneficiaries?" he questioned. He called upon the people to be alert for finance or chit fund companies or individuals who try to lure them with high rate of interest. District Consumer Forum-I president (FAC) KVR Maheswari said that the Consumer Protection Act was introduced in 1986 and was later amended giving strength to consumers to approach district forums if they were cheated or exploited in terms of commodities or service. She said the Act has envisaged not only rights but also liabilities to consumers, including obtaining cash memos and warranty cards, from the traders. The president called upon the consumers not to hesitate to file a complaint in the Forum if they were cheated by a service organisation or a company or a trader. "The Consumer Forums pronounce judgements, but the trouble lies with its 'execution'. As per the Act, only the Collector has powers to invoke the Revenue Recovery Act against opposite parties while executing the judgement. So, transfer of execution is the need of the hour. Another trouble is that of serving warrants on the opposite parties by the police if the former fails to adhere to the judgement," she said. AU Registrar Prof. K Rama Mohana Rao said corruption and cheating has "become an acceptable norm these days" and hence the companies were easily exploiting consumers. He emphasised the need for creating 'sensibility of guilt', which was possible with only social awareness. Consumer Protection Councils could only mount 'social pressure' to help reduce exploitation and cheating, he said. District Legal Services Authority secretary and Senior Civil Judge K Surya Rao wanted relevant Acts to be further strengthened. He advised the consumers to first approach the Consumer Councils in case of any problem as pre-litigation and then to approach the Forums. The Senior Civil Judge said that the District Legal Services Authority would also provide free legal aid. District Civil Supplies Officer N Jwala Prakash spoke. M Krishna Murty of Consumer Protection Council presided over the meeting. Earlier, the Commissioner of Police gave away prizes to the winners of various competitions held on the occasion and felicitated those who excelled in their professions.
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