Consumer protection possible only when they are aware of their rights, says minister Okendro

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Minister Okendro speaking at the World Consumers Day observation. IFP Photo
Minister Okendro speaking at the World Consumers Day observation. IFP Photo

IMPHAL, March 15: “The Consumer Protection Acts lay down an executory and adjudicatory framework for ensuring that violation of consumer rights are properly dealt with, but efficient and appropriate consumer protection is only possible when the consumers themselves are well aware about their rights in the first place” said CAF and PD minister Moirangthem Okendro today.

M. Okendro was delivering his speech as chief guest at the observance of World Consumer Rights Day at the auditorium of the High Court of Manipur organized by the Manipur State Legal Services Authority in association with the High Court Bar Association of Manipur today.

There is an urgent need to spread awareness of the rights of the consumers, the minister said, and continued the judiciary, activists, lawyers’ community, consumer clubs, women, students, civil societies and media need to play vital roles.

The department of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Manipur has relentlessly provided support and created an enabling environment for establishment of institutions that seeks to protect rights of the consumers and take punitive action against unscrupulous goods and service provider, he said.

He stated that one such institution is the Manipur State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, presently headed by Justice Asok Potsangbam.

Another important intervention for protection of consumer’s rights is the State Consumer Helpline which is established and functioning under the watch of Department of CAF&PD, Manipur, Okendro asserted.

The application and enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 has become more important than ever, he said adding that Manipur has seen rapid growth in middle class and with globalization, a culture of consumerism has taken root.

With the continuous rise in the purchasing power of the public in general and the middle class in particular, transaction of goods and services have increased dramatically despite consumption rate has risen, the mode of consumption has become multiplied, he said.

The State government is trying to implement the National Food Security Act from April, 2016. As you know, NFSA is intimately related to consumers, who would be availing food grains at very affordable rates, he added.

“NFSA is an Act and the beneficiaries are now empowered lawfully to claim their monthly quota and assert their rights if the ration is denied. But I am very concerned that people may not protest or raise their voice in case of denial of their quota by any element” he said.

Minister Okendro said that he learnt that people rarely come forward or knock on the DC’s office to demand their Ration Cards.

Those lucky few who have Ration Cards will not complain when their quota is reduced by the FPS agent, he said.

He continued that such result is due to the lack of awareness of the consumer rights or lack of confidence in the grievance redressal mechanism.

Everyone need to work together to make this right and we need more seminar, awareness programmes and more coverage of consumer related issues in media, otherwise we would be denying one of the core provisions of Consumer Protection Act which is Right to Consumer Education.

He stated that this Act has made it mandatory to institutionalize grievance redressal mechanism at various levels.

The Manipur State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has been designated as State Food Commission to look into the grievances of the NFSA beneficiaries.

The Department’s website, www.pdsmanipur.nic.in is now active where beneficiaries can lodge online complaints. But all these will be of no use when awareness of the rights of the beneficiary consumers does not percolate to them, meaningfully and in time.

The day was also observed in Thoubal district organised by the District Legal Services Authority, Thoubal at the Thoubal court complex. The observation was attended y advocate Liyakat, advocate Md jakir Huissien and APP A Gopen Sharma.

The District Legal Services Authority, Imphal West and All Manipur Bar Association also observed the day at the conference hall of District and Session Judge, Imphal East located at Cheirap Court complex.

The programme was sponsored by Manipur State Legal Services Authority.

The District Sessions Judge, Imphal West and District Legal Services Authority, Imphal West chairman and Maibam Manojkumar Singh, District Sessions Judge, Imphal East and District Legal Services Authority, Imphal East chairman Salam Imocha Singh, Manipur State Legal Services Authority member secretary RK Memcha Devi and All Manipur Bar Association vice president L Manaobi Singh attended as presidium members while LMS Law college, Imphal Lecturer Dr Ch Narendra Singh, SBI deputy manager Ch Lilabanta and AMBA former president Kh Mani attended as resource persons respectively.

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