Fatafat sunvai at High Court

Number of cases cleared this year is more than the cases filed; annual vacation reduced by a week

NEED FOR SPEED: Bombay High Court Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar at his chamber. FILE PIC

Clearance of pending cases is at the top of Bombay High Court Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar’s priorities. Justice Kumar’s special drives in 2007 ensured that 19,289 more cases were cleared in 2007, compared to the previous year. In 2008, till date, the disposal rate has surpassed the number of cases being filed.

“The chief justice had undertaken a special drive last year where pending cases were disposed of. Constitution of extra division benches has effectively distributed the workload of petitions to five judges instead of two,” said an official. This year’s court vacation will also see more ‘Vacation Judges’ hearing matters for urgent disposals.

The high court has also reduced seven days from the annual vacation to make up for working days lost to public holidays. In the coming week too, the court will lose two working days on account of public holidays.

Earlier this year, the court missed a few Thursdays to government holidays. Since important petitions, including PILs, are heard on Thursdays, it has resulted in a sizeable accumulation of petitions. “The court officially needs to complete 210 working days in a year. Usually, most public holidays and festivals fall on weekends, which are regular court offs. This year, we have lost a number of weekdays. In 2008,

March and August have the maximum public holidays,” said Registrar General of the high court R P Sondurbaldota.

Lawyers, meanwhile, are displeased with the idea of a shorter vacation. “Vacations are a necessity and not a luxury these days,” said a senior advocate.

In numbers
Disposals in 2006: 1,11,276 cases
Disposals in 2007: 1,30,565 cases
Increase in one year: 19,289 cases

Increased rates of disposals
Bombay bench: 60.63%
Nagpur bench:     45.04%
Aurangabad bench: 45%

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PARTS

PART I THE UNION AND ITS TERRITORY Art.( 1-4 )
PART II CITIZENSHIP Art.( 5-11 )
PART III FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS Art.( 12-35 )
PART IV DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY Art.( 36-51 )
PART IVA FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES Art.( 51A )
PART V THE UNION Art.( 52-151 )
PART VI THE STATES Art.( 152-237 )
PART VII THE STATES IN PART B OF THE FIRST SCHEDULE Art.( 238 )
PART VIII THE UNION TERRITORIES Art.( 239-243 )
PART IX PANCHAYATS Art.( 243-243zg )
PART IXA MUNICIPALITIES Art.( 243-243zg )
PART X THE SCHEDULED AND TRIBAL AREAS Art.( 244-244A )
PART XI RELATIONS BETWEEN THE UNION AND THE STATES Art.( 245-263 )
PART XII FINANCE, PROPERTY, CONTRACTS AND SUITS Art.( 264-300A )
PART XIII TRADE,COMMERCE AND INTERCOURSE WITHIN THE TERRITORY OF INDIA Art.( 301-307 )
PART XIV SERVICES UNDER THE UNION AND THE STATES Art.( 308-323 )
PART XIVA TRIBUNALS Art.( 323A-323B )
PART XV ELECTIONS Art.( 324-329A )
PART XVI SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO CERTAIN CLASSES Art.( 330-342 )
PART XVII OFFICIAL LANGUAGE Art.( 343-351 )
PART XVIII EMERGENCY PROVISIONS Art.( 352-360 )
PART XIX MISCELLANEOUS Art.( 361-367 )
PART XX AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION Art.( 368 )
PART XXI TEMPORARY, TRANSITIONAL AND SPECIAL PROVISIONS Art.( 369-392 )
PART XXII SHORT TITLE,COMMENCEMENT,AUTHORITATIVE TEXT IN HINDI AND REPEALS Art.( 393-395 )

RAJIV GANDHI NATIONAL CRÈCHE SCHEME FOR THE CHILDREN OF WORKING MOTHERS.

I
INTRODUCTION
With increased opportunities for employment for women and the need to
supplement household income more and more women are entering the job
market. With the breaking up of joint family system and the increased
phenomenon of nuclear families, working women need support in terms of
quality, substitute, care for their young children while they are at work. There has,
however, been very slow growth of Crèche/ Daycare facilities, resulting in failure
to meet the needs of working mothers in terms of extent, content and quality of
services. Crèche and Daycare Services are not only required by working mothers
but also women belonging to poor families, who require support and relief from
childcare as they struggle to cope with burden of activities, within and outside the
home. Effective day care for young children is essential and a cost effective
investment as it provides support to both the mothers and young children. It is
also a protection measure as it addresses issues such as child labour, school
drop outs , child prostitution, out reach for medical and health programme female
literacy etc., Hence, there is an urgent need for improved quality and reach of
child day care services for working women among all socio-economic groups in
both in the organized and unorganised sectors.
The need for child care services has been emphasized in the National
Policy for Children , 1994, National Policy for Education, 1986 and National
Policy for Empowerment of Women , 2001 and the National Plan of Action for
Children, 2005. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on demand for grants
for the year 2002-03 has also pointed out that all sections of the society should
be allowed to avail the services of the creches. Labour Legislations also contain
provisions for child care facilities for women workers. The National Common
Minimum Programme also emphasises enhancement of child care and
development services in the future. Thus there is need for an expanded and
effective scheme for childcare facilities.
I
I. PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICE DELIVERY
A crèche centre must have a minimum space of 6-8 sq. ft. per child to
ensure that they can play, rest, and learn without any hindrance. The Centre
should be clean, well lighted with adequate ventilation. A fan should also be
installed in the Centre where electricity supply is available. The centre must
have clean toilet and sanitation facility that caters to the needs of small children.
There should be adequate safe play area outside the Centre also. Within the
Centre, there should be sleeping facilities for children, i.e. mattresses, cradles,
cots, pillows and basic infrastructure to meet the requirement of the children.
Essential play material and teaching and learning material must be available to
meet the needs of pre-school children. The cooking area must be located at the
place which is away from the activity area of the children to avoid accidents.
Basic cooking equipment like stove, gas cylinder or the traditional chulhas must
be available and safely placed. Attendance Register must be maintained at
every Centre, duly filled up. It should be available for inspection at any time
during the working hours of the crèche centers.
I
mplementing Agencies and the Crèche Workers must ensure linkages
with the local Primary Health Centre or sub-Primary Health Centre in the area.
They should also have a tie-up with the nearby anaganwadi centres and its
workers for health care inputs like immunization, polio drops, basic health
monitoring. Community support including support from Panchayati Raj
Institutions is also envisaged in the Scheme to ensure their participation and to
supplement the grant of the Government.
The provision of non-recurring grant has been made in the scheme to
enable the implementing agencies to provide the basic minimum facilities to
ensure that the children in the centre have a hygienic, healthy and child friendly
environment for their proper growth and care.
I
II. FOOD AND OTHER ESSENTIALS
 The centre must at all times be equipped with a basic First Aid Kit
containing pediatric medicines for common ailments like fever, vomiting,
cough and cold, dehydration, common stomach ailments, minor injuries,
ointments, band-aids, cotton wool, disinfectants.
 The Centre must have adequate cooking facility, cooking utensils, utensils
to feed the children- which should be cleaned regularly before and after
use. They should be kept in an identified space.
 The Centre must have a safe and regular drinking water source. If
necessary, chlorination or boiling of drinking water must be done.
 Food provided to the children must have adequate nutritional value and
there should be variety in the food that is given to the children every day.
The food should be acceptable to the babies and children. For this, the
workers should know what are the nutritious preparations suitable for
babies and children and they must cook food with due care and
cleanliness.
 Weekly visits by doctors should be carried out for treatment and checkup.
IV. USERS CHARGES
Users charges @ of Rs. 20/- per child per month may be collected from
children from BPL families and Rs, 60/- per child per month from other families.
This will ensure of participation with the community and also increase the
centres’ resources which can be utilized as rent or for better facilities at the
crèche. It should be ensured that 50% of the children coming to these crèche are
from BPL families.
V. CRITERIA FOR SELECTION OF NGOS
The new creches will be sanctioned to the present Implementing
Agencies, viz, Central Social Welfare Board, Indian Council for Child Welfare
and Bhartiya Adim Jati Sevak Sangh. The Creches will be allocated to a
State/UT on the basis of the proportion of child population. Uncovered districts/
tribal areas under the Scheme will be given highest priority while extending the
scheme to ensure balanced regional coverage. Priority will be given to 87
uncovered districts, i.e. those districts that do not have even one creche.
VI. CRÈCHE WORKER’S TRAINING
The component of Training has been added to the Scheme to orient the
Crèche Workers as well as the Implementing Agencies to provide better services
and to build up child friendly environment in the Centre. A short term training will
be provided to every crèche worker and helper. The training module, which will
be made with the help of NIPCCD will be provided through training agencies that
will be identified with the help of State Governments. The following points must
be kept in mind for imparting training:-
 A crèche worker and helper will undergo a short-term training after he/she
joins.
 Training will emphasize on areas such as childcare, health –first aid,
Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation , emergency, handling hygiene.
 Pre-school education has to be provided to children in the age group 3-6
years. This will be based on Early Childhood Education guidelines for
which the crèche workers will be trained. They will be taught how to
engage children in a variety of pre-school activities with adequate teaching
and learning material.
 The crèche workers will also be trained to teach the children basic and
personal hygienic habits.
 The crèche workers will be trained on nutrition and methods of cooking
healthy, tasty and nutritious food.
 To develop basic understanding among the crèche workers about the
need and importance of day care for children.
 To enable them to develop better understanding of critical issues of child
survival, growth and development with special reference to children below
three years and to orient them to integrated approach to child
development.
 To develop skills in them for organizing various activities to promote all
round development of children.
 To develop skills in addressing the psycho-social care of young infants
and toddlers.
 To enable the participants to plan and prepare need based programme for
holistic development of child.
 To develop in them an appreciation about the need of parent participation
and community involvement in the crèche programme.
 Develop the capacity to work with parents.
After training the Creche workers will be expected to perform following
functions:-
 Organize pre-school education activities for children between 3 to 6 years
of age based on the ECE guidelines provided during training.
 Organize stimulation activities for children below 3 years.
 Prepare low cost teaching learning aids.
 Teach Personal hygiene Habits to the Children.
 Prepare Nutritious food for children attending the crèche centre.
 Keep the centre and its surroundings neat and clean.
 Motivate parents for immunization and obtain assistance of health staff in
ensuring immunization of children.
 Provide proper arrangements for sleep and rest of children.
 Ensure regular home visits and mothers meetings to elicit community
participation.
 Create awareness about better child care in the community; and
 Maintain records and register.
 Ensure weekly visits by doctors/healthworkers.
VII. MONITORING OF THE CRECHES
To ensure effective running of the Scheme and also ensure that the
beneficiaries get all the elements of the scheme. There should be regular
monitoring of the creches. Monitoring of the Creches being run under the
Scheme will be conducted through independent agencies, to be identified in each
State, which will submit reports direct to the Central Government. It is expected
that every crèche will be inspected at least once in period of two years. Schools
of Social Work, Women’s Studies Centers and other reputed agencies will be
engaged to monitor crèche units. They will be regularly provided list of
sanctioned units in their respective areas with complete address and details of
the NGO. A lump sum one time grant of Rs. 10,000/- would be given to each
nodal agencies and Rs. 700/- per crèche visited and inspected.
A uniform format will be provided to the Monitoring Agencies to ascertain
that the basic minimum requirements are being met with in each Crèche Center.
The Monitoring Agency must review the Centres in all aspects. They
must in the course of the inspection also assess the motivation and capacity of
the Implementing Agencies.
VIII. TYPE OF ACTIVITIES TO BE ASSISTED
Assistance will be provided for developing comprehensive day-care
services for the babies (0-6 year) of working and other deserving women
provided the monthly-income of both the parents does not exceed Rs. 12000/-.
I
X. SCHEMATIC PATTERN
The present scheme will provide assistance to NGOs for running crèches
for babies (0-6 years) and would provide assistance to ensure sleeping facilities,
health-care, supplementary nutrition, immunization etc. for running a crèche for
25 babies for eight hours i.e. from 9.00 A.M. to 5.00 P.M. The schematic pattern
of expenditure is indicated below:-
Recurring Grant
S.
No.
Recurring Grant admissible for
grant
Ceiling of
expenditure
Grant
1. Honorarium to workers per crèche
(two workers)
Rs. 2000/- per
month
Rs.2000/-
(100%)
2. Supplementary nutrition per crèche
(for 25 children @ Rs. 2.08 per
child for 26 days.
Rs. 1352/- per
month
Rs. 1217/-
(90%)
3. Emergency medicine and
Contingencies (per crèche)
Rs. 350/- per
month
Rs. 315/- (90%)
Non-recurring Grant
S.
No.
Admissible Grant Ceiling of
expenditure
Grant
Non-recurring grant for the
period of five years
Rs. 10,000/- and a
subsequent grant
of Rs. 5000/- at an
interval of five
years towards
replacement of
consumable
stores on cent
percent basis.
Rs. 10,000/-
(100%) once in
the beginning of
every new crèche)
Rs. 3000/- (100%
at five years
intervals)
X. EXTENT OF ASSISTANCE
The Government assistance can only be on a limited scale and should not
induce too much dependence on the part of the voluntary institutions on such
help and the efforts of the voluntary sector should be to utilize the Government
assistance towards snowballing resources for widening the scope of the
programme with increasing voluntary contributions. The government recognizes
the need for more creches and day care facilities and realizes that, as the
scheme comes to be implemented not only would the children looked after
properly, but their parents would have greater freedom to work without norms
and that would lead to an increase in their efficiency. The Government
assistance will be limited to 90% of the schematic pattern (except salary of
crèche workers and helpers) or actual expenditure whichever is less and the
remaining expenditure will have to be borne by the Institution/Organization
concerned.
If an institution has already received or is expecting to receive a grant from
some other official source for a project for which application is being made under
this scheme, the assessment of central grant will normally be made after taking
into consideration the grant from such other official sources.
XI. PROCEDURE FOR SUBMISSION OF APPLICATION
Application will be received through State Units of Central Social Welfare
Board, Indian Council for Child Welfare and Bhartiya Adim Jati Sevak Sangh with
their recommendations. It will, however, be open to the Central Social Welfare
Board to entertain an application direct from an institution/organization of an All-
India character.
The application for grant-in-aid from Central Social Welfare Board, Indian
Council for Child Welfare and Bhartiya Adim Jati Sevak Sangh, for a particular
year should reach to the Department by the 31st March of the preceding financial
year. Application received during the year may also be considered subject to
availability of funds.
Application should be made in the prescribed form given at Annexure-A.
Each application should be accompanied by the Documents mentioned in
Para 17 of the application form.
XII. CONDITIONS FOR GRANTS
Grants will be paid in two installments, the first installment being normally
released on receipt of acceptance of conditions enumerated in the letter of
sanction project. Application for the release of second or subsequent installment,
made after the close of the financial year in which the project was approved shall
be accompanied by a statement of accounts of the expenditure incurred during
the year. Final installment shall be released only after audited accounts and a
Utilization Certificate, signed by a Chartered Accountant, is received and found in
order. The utilization certificate should be in the following form attached at
Annexure-B.
Annexure-B
Utilisation Certificate
…….
I
have verified the accounts of ____________________ in respect of the
grants of Rs._________________ released by the Department of Women and
Child Development/Central Social Welfare Board for the period
___________________ with the help of vouchers and certify that they are correct
and that an amount of Rs.______________________ has been utilized upto
________________ for the purpose for which it was sanctioned. The balance
of Rs._____________________ remaining unutilized at the end of the year has
been surrendered to the Govt. (vide No.________________ dated
__________________)/ will be adjusted towards the grant-in-aid payable during
the next year__________________.
(CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT)
Annexure-A
CENTRAL SCHEME OF ASSISTANCE TO
VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIOS FOR CRECHES
APPLICATION FORM
Note (Application received in an incomplete form will not be entertained.)
PART – I
(To be completed by the applicant)
1. Name of the Institution/organization:
2 Objectives of the Institution/Organization:
3. Brief history of the Institution/Organization and its objects and activities:
4. Whether recognized by the State Government:
5. Whether registered under Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860 (ACT
XXI of 1860)
6. Whether the institution/organization is of all India character. If so, give the
nature of its all-India character:
7. Whether located in its own/rented building:
8. Present number of beneficiaries (i.e. babies in the age group of 0-6 years)
and the number of creches run by the organization.
9. Details of the crèches project for which grant is applied (i.e. the number of
additional babies to be provided with care in the existing creches,
additional creches proposed to be started, the nature of baby care service
to be provided, item-wise details of estimated expenditure etc.):
10. Likely dates of commencement and completion of the crèche project:
11. Whether the project is likely to be assisted by some other official or nonofficial
sources. If so, give details thereof:
12. Justification for the project indicating its important features which entitle it
to central assistance (mentioned the name of the work etc.; the working
mothers which will be benefited, and give any other relevant information):
13. Total estimated expenditure on the project for one year:
(a) (i)Non-recurring ________________Rs.
(ii) Recurring ___________________Rs.
(b) Period for which recurring assistance is required:
14. a) Amount of grant requested (not exceeding 90% of the estimated
expenditure);
a) i) Non-recurring ________________Rs.
ii) Recurring ________________Rs.
b) Period for which recurring assistance is required:
15. Is accommodation available for running the creches to or temporary
shelter is proposed to be improvised?
16. Whether the institution is in a position to meet 10% or balance
expenditure? If so, indicate the sources:
17. List of papers/statements to be attached (in duplicate):
a) Prospectus/Memorandum of Association or a note giving aims and
objects of the institution/organization:
b) Constitution of Institution/Organization:
c) Constitution of the Board of Management with brief particulars of each
member:
d) Latest available annual report:
e) Audited accounts for last two years along with a copy of their certified
balance sheet for the previous year:
f) A statement giving details (year, purpose, amount etc.) of assistance
received during the last two years from the Central/State Government,
Central Social Welfare Board, local bodies or any other quasi-
Government institutions including requests made there of to any one of
these or any other organization for the project under consideration or
for any other project:
g) A statement giving item-wise and year-wise details of estimated
recurring and non-recurring expenditure on the proposed creche
project:
18. List of additional papers, if any:
19. Additional information, if any:
20. Does the institution/organization work of profit to any individual or body of
individuals?
Signature of
Secretary/President.

Women development, Rights, acts and rules.

Development

ACTS

Publications and Reports

Secretary and Director of Maharashtra state Government.

Maharashtra Shri Satyabir S.Dodd
022-22027050
022-22828281(Fax)
Shri Debasheesh Chakraborty
022-2756158
022-26127428

Sh. Ujjwal UkeCommissioner Commissionerate of  ICDS5th Floor, Konkan Bhawan (Extn.)

Navi Mumbai – 400 614

Sh. Ramesh BhatiaSecretary GeneralAll
India Balkan-ji-Bari
25,

Juhu Road

, Santacruz (West)Mumbai – 400 054

Travel Safety in Mumbai Metropolis

Mumbai is a sprawling city of 13million people and growing in size and population every year. There is a need to travel great distances to the work place and back for adult men and women and to the place of learning and back for students. In addition, there is tourist travel, en-route travel, travelling to home place and back for the immigrants, business travel, travel for shopping, medical needs and the usual day-to-day human requirements for living. Travelling, therefore, is the greatest daily human activity and business in Mumbai.

All types of travelling systems are used for travel into Mumbai, i.e., air, sea, road and rail; however, within the city, road and rail travel predominate. Of these, the bulk of the people are carried by the suburban railway system. It is estimated that over 6.5million people travel by the railways daily in Mumbai city. It would be reasonable to assume that a similar number may be travelling by vehicles daily on the roads of Mumbai.

Rail Travel

The local or the suburban train system, which was, without doubt, an efficiently planned system at one time, carries the largest number of commuters in Mumbai; today, the number of travellers has far outgrown its capacity. The consistent effort by the railways to increase the capacity periodically has not been able to keep pace with the migration of outside population to the city. Though stressed beyond limits, the suburban train system is doing its job of carrying the bulk of traffic fairly well even today, but it is not without its risk.

It is not necessary to go into minute details of the existing railway tracks, work-in-progress and future plans for the purpose of this article; suffice it to say that the total length of rail tracks on the Western Railway from Churchgate to Virar is 228km and Central Railway from Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Karjat, Kasara, Diva-Vasai and by harbour line from CST to Mahim and Panvel is 548km as on date. That brings the total length of all the railway tracks to 776km in the Mumbai suburban area. Work is in progress at many places to increase the number of tracks and there are time-bound plans for expansion for future right up to the year 2020.

From the point of view of safety, the suburban train system has two major risk factors to contend with-accidents and crime.

Accidents

The types of accidents and the casualty figures in the Central Railway from CST to Karjat, Kasara and Panvel and in the Western Railway from Churchgate to Virar combined together as per statistics provided by the Government Railway Police, Maharashtra State, are given below:

 

Table 1: Data on Railway Accidents

2001

2002

2003

Accidental Deaths

While crossing the railway line

2227

2078

2148

Falling off the train

646

617

532

Others

142

104

127

Total Accidental Deaths

3015

2799

2807

Injured Persons

While crossing the railway line

1147

1127

856

Falling off the train

1454

1336

1413

Others

144

151

218

Total Injured Persons

2745

2614

2487

Terrorism Casualties

Deaths due to Bomb Blast

0

0

11

Injured due to Bomb Blast

0

25

82

Total Terrorism Casualties

0

25

93

Total Casualties

5760

5438

5387

The Table shows that total accidental deaths in Central and Western Railways, together, are about 3,000 in a year (plus/minus 8%). The total injured persons in the railway accidents are 2,600 (plus/minus 6%). It is evident from this data that 75% of the railway-accidental deaths in Mumbai occur due to collisions between people and trains while the people are crossing the railway lines in defiance of the rules and sound advice; the cause of about 20% of the accidental deaths is people falling off the trains. The other reasons for accidental deaths in railways are: people falling in the gap between the platform and the coach while struggling with other passengers to board the trains in a rush and some travellers hanging outside the compartments die when they get hit by poles, trees or any such stationary object close to the rail tracks. In addition to these, a total of 11 deaths occurred on account of terrorist activity in the year 2003.

The record of the injured persons shows that on the average about 50% of the people are injured because of falling off the trains while 35% of the people are injured while crossing the railway tracks and about 15% due to other causes. Terrorism accounted for 25 people being injured in the year 2002 and 82 in the year 2003.

The trend of the accidents is seen to be on the decline and the credit must go the efforts of the police (GRP), the volunteer passenger organisations, such as the Mumbai Suburban Railway Passengers’ Association and the railway authorities in the measures taken to reduce the accidents and increase safety awareness among passengers. A lot more needs to be done.

 

In the ultimate analysis, the single most important cause leading to fatalities in railway accidents is unauthorised crossing of railway lines. It is forbidden to cross railway tracks, except at authorised and controlled level crossings, but people still avoid using the foot bridges and take short-cuts across the railway lines at all places, some of which are at bends with reduced visibility. Also, the criss-crossing of rails at both sides of the railway stations often confuses the commuter about the track the trains are likely to run on. The high speed of the trains and the great distance required to bring the train to a stop practically rules out the option to halt the train to save anyone crossing the rails.

Looking into the entire accident record, one fact comes out loud and clear is that most of the accidents are caused due to the fault of the people themselves in the form of disregarding rules or because of carelessness or hurry. Also, excess of passengers over the capacity is the root cause of the extra rush during boarding and alighting leading to risky behaviour such as fighting, pushing and jostling to get into the trains and some forms of risky travel practices such as hanging outside the compartment or travelling over the roof of the coaches, etc. Of late, it is also seen that overcrowding is the major cause of fights between the passengers inside the compartments, resulting in the weaker or the outnumbered passengers being thrown out of a running train – a very brutal, callous and inhuman behaviour.

The railways have taken many steps for improving the rail-safety, such as:

• Improvement and updating of the signal system,

• Increasing the number of rakes to increase capacity,

• Adding more tracks to increase capacity and speed up traffic,

• Removal of some of the vertical poles close to the tracks,

• Reduction of the distance between compartments and platforms.

The railways refuse to take any responsibility for the accidents caused on account of unauthorised crossing of the railway tracks, people hanging outside the compartments, people sitting on rooftops of trains or people falling between the platform and the compartments. While legally they may be justified, it is not a very humane approach, for many accidents are caused due to their own carelessness too, such as piling of the sleepers or other railway items far too close to the tracks, construction of cable carrying or any other structure on the walls of tunnel that could cause injury to the people who may have some parts of their bodies protruding out of the compartments. Sometimes railways are reluctant to remove vertical poles too close to the tracks due to so-called technical difficulty. Vertical poles too close to the tracks can always be removed if there is a will to do it. A suitable technical solution can always be found and implemented.

There are standards given such as the maintenance of a minimum horizontal distance of 7ft from the centre of the tracks to the vertical poles, 5ft 6inches (plus/minus 6inches) from the centre of the tracks to the face of the platform and 2ft 6inches (plus/minus 3inches) height of the platform from the top of the rail to maintain a safe vertical clearance between the compartment and the platform. However, these can not always be adhered to on account of the variety of technical reasons and space constraints, e.g., the

 

level of the rails is consistently required to be raised to avoid water logging of the rails or track maintenance and then there is the vertical alignment of tracks and proper sloping to be ensured. The railways have failed to achieve the co-ordination of the raising of platform level with that of the rails because both works fall under different heads, different supervision and different budgets. Nevertheless, that calls for additional expenditure and the railways are perpetually short of funds and suffer budget-cuts.

Make Rail-Travel Safe

The major works by the railways apart, it is quite possible to make rail-travel safer by adhering to the set norms of railway safety, high quality of maintenance and vigilant supervision by the railway authorities, observance of rules and regulations by all without exception, avoiding risky behaviour/practices while travelling and by adopting humane values of tolerance and universal brotherhood by the passengers.

The railways must build sufficiently broad and strong foot-bridges/subways for crossing the tracks and also close the crossing points, frequented by the pedestrians for crossing the tracks with fencing, etc. Effective ways to avoid accidents for the citizens are: self-vigilance, adherence to the rules/regulations and following safe practices, that means no crossing of rail-tracks by the passengers, no hanging outside trains, no sitting on train roof-tops and no jostling while boarding/alighting from the trains, especially moving trains.

Crime

Crime thrives in every metropolitan city. Mumbai is no exception. The crime in railway travel is basically of two types: under the Indian Penal Code and under the Railways Act for crimes committed against the Railways. We are not examining the crimes under the Railways Act here, as they do not really constitute risk to life or limb or property of the passengers, as this paper is limited only to travel-safety of the commuters.

Table 2: Data on Railway Crimes

2001

2002

2003

Picking Pockets

556

566

476

Bag Lifting

332

227

269

Chain Snatching

275

192

206

Other Thefts

593

709

638

All Thefts

1756

1694

1589

Robbery

29

22

32

Murders

13

3

9

Rapes & Molestation

7

6

20

All Other Crimes

218

209

180

Total Crimes

2023

1934

1830

The Table shows that about 88% of all crimes reported in the suburban railways of Mumbai pertain to thefts, of which about 32% are by picking pockets and about 14%-15% are on account of chain snatching and bag lifting.

The present times present a new and grave danger to the railway traveller, i.e., the risk of mindless violence due to bomb blasts caused by the terrorists to spread fear. This new threat requires far greater awareness, alert disposition, reporting suspicious behaviour/unclaimed baggage or articles and co-operation with the authorities from the commuters to safeguard their lives.

Road Travel

The Table shows that about 88% of all crimes reported in the suburban railways of Mumbai pertain to thefts, of which about 32% are by picking pockets and about 14%-15% are on account of chain snatching and bag lifting.

The present times present a new and grave danger to the railway traveller, i.e., the risk of mindless violence due to bomb blasts caused by the terrorists to spread fear. This new threat requires far greater awareness, alert disposition, reporting suspicious behaviour/unclaimed baggage or articles and co-operation with the authorities by the commuters to safeguard their lives.

Road Travel

Mumbai metropolis has a total of 1,615km of asphalt roads and about 311km of cement concrete roads. By the end of this year the road length will go up to 1,700km and 400km, respectively, in these two categories. The vehicle population in Mumbai is 1.15million registered vehicles and 0.15million floating vehicles bringing the total number of vehicles of all kinds on the Mumbai roads to 1.3million. Also, nearly the entire population of 13million people may be presumed to use the roads every day at some time or the other.

Causes of Road-Accidents

No moving vehicle is ever free of the possibility of involvement in an accident. Road safety, yet, is a far more complex subject than rail safety for Mumbaikars because it has far too many facets. However, road safety, has one thing in common with rail safety-most of the accidents are caused because of human error in terms of defiance of rules and regulations made for road travel, overly aggressive driving, drunken driving, tiredness, negligence/casual attitude, listening to loud music while driving, use of mobile phones while driving, etc. The various causes contributing to road accidents are:

• Human error

• Mechanical failure

• Poor visibility

• Dangerous curves in the road

• Bad road conditions and/or oil spillage on the roads

• Absence of signs on the road giving advance warning of conditions to come

 

• Wrongly placed hoardings reducing visibility and causing hazardous distractions

• Pedestrians, mainly children, old and/or physically handicapped people crossing the road without following proper rules/precautions

• Debris or big concrete blocks left carelessly on the roads and open manholes in the roads.

• Animals on the road

It will be of interest to have a look at some statistics provided by the Mumbai Traffic Police about road accidents in Mumbai metropolis.

Table 3: Road Accidents

Year 2001

Year

2002

Year

2003

Accidents

Injured

Accidents

Injured

Accidents

Injured

Fatal

523

543

462

475

377

394

Serious

1794

1885

1409

1461

1391

1504

Minor

Slight

4799

5009

4886

5080

4471

4716

19213

0

18713

0

18923

0

Total

26329

7437

25470

7016

25162

6614

The trend is clear from these figures that the number of accidents, fatalities as well as injuries are on the decline, though the population and, thereby, the number of road users, has gone up. The credit is certainly deserved by Loss Prevention Association of India (LPA), which is genuinely committed to the cause of road safety and increasing its awareness among the citizens, the traffic police, the RTO and the MCGM. That also proves the maxim that most of the accidents are avoidable. Also, measures such as wearing of helmets by riders of two-wheelers and seat belts by the occupants of the vehicles, strengthening/reinforcing the bodies of cars and crumple zone designs have helped reduce fatalities and injuries.

Improving Road-Safety

The major responsibility of reducing road accidents naturally goes to the government authorities and law enforcers-maintenance of roads, building road dividers and foot-paths, putting up road signs to warn the drivers in advance of the oncoming dangers/situations preferably in luminous paint, painting of the zebra signs and speed-breakers to make them stand out prominently, enforcing safety standards and control of traffic with traffic lights/signs as well as traffic police. Blind curves should be eliminated as far as practicable. Fairing of roads and sloping must be taken care of at the planning stage itself at the curves/bends. There must be timely removal of debris or other obstacles from the roads. Lighting of roads must be appropriately taken care of. Hoardings must not be permitted where they are likely to cause a hazard to road safety. Rules and regulations must be formulated to control hoardings, display and lighting of hoardings. As far as possible, no level crossings of rail-tracks must be left unmanned and where such unmanned level crossings exist, care must be taken to warn the motorists well in advance by painting appropriately prominent signs.

 

Proper legislation is required to be introduced to ensure that manufacturers of motor vehicles are bound by law to introduce some of the latest safety measures. Awareness campaigns must be frequently undertaken with the help of NGOs to hammer home the importance of safety and its various measures on the motorists. Training for carriage of hazardous material must be regularly undertaken for the benefit of the manufacturers of such materials, carriers, drivers, RTO officials, firemen and traffic police. Government authorities and the NGOs are doing their best; it is necessary that the citizens do theirs.

The most important step in improving road safety is defensive driving. All the motorists must be compulsorily asked to undergo courses teaching defensive driving. Tests must be held and failed candidates must be asked to reappear and pass under the threat of withdrawal of driving licence.

Defensive driving is anticipating situations/factors that can possibly lead to accidents, manoeuvring your vehicles in a way that enables you to stay out of the majority of accident-prone situations and avoiding aggressive behaviour. The LPA calls Defensive Driving ‘a system for successfully solving driving problems and a professional driver’s ‘code of the road’. The Defensive Driving Code as given by the LPA is:

• Care, courtesy and consideration for other road users

• Knowledge of traffic rules and regulations

• Alertness for the illegal acts and driving errors of other drivers

• Concern for accident prevention regardless of who is in the right

Travelling Safely

Pedestrian safety is as important as driving safety because we, as pedestrians, cross paths with all kinds of vehicles including trains.

Road travel and rail travel have different set of rules. Road vehicles can be brought to a stop by braking before a collision occurs or turned away in a safe direction. The trains being extremely heavy objects and travelling at great speeds on the steel-rails have tremendous momentum and therefore can’t just be braked to a halt, nor can they be turned at will to avoid collisions. Therefore, there is a vast network of signals and the rail movement is strictly controlled as per the set rules. Also, the rails are always positioned on a raised earthwork all along, making it practically impossible for other vehicles to cross the railways except at the planned level crossings. Also, the railways are always given a right of way. The vehicles/pedestrians crossing the railways at level crossings are always subjected to a control. At unmanned crossings, we must look out and cross at our own risk and responsibility. Thus, we reduce the risk of collisions. It must be accepted, however, that the risk of accidents can not be eliminated altogether.

Conclusion

A gigantic city, such as Mumbai has its gigantic travel problems. Some sound planning, efficient management and a fairly disciplined citizen population have helped to control the accident rate in spite of a very heavy travel count, the highest in the country. There is sufficient room to reduce it drastically with the co-operation of the travellers themselves. Most of the accidents are attributable to ignorance, negligence, carelessness, flouting of

 

set norms/rules, drunken driving, over-speeding etc. A loss of an able bodied young and/or learned person is not just a loss to his/her family, it is a loss to the nation.

We need to undertake a vigorous awareness campaign to instil discipline in the people at young age itself. Right from school days the children must be taught travel safety and the proper rules of travel and the reasons why they need to be implicitly obeyed. Adult awareness programmes must also be undertaken in the public places. e.g. on the railway platforms, on TV channels and by distribution of brochures/booklets to instil these values in the grown up people too. The educated children can be made to take part in the adult awareness programmes and will prove to be a great motivating force even for their elders. Past experience shows that a concerted effort in such a constructive direction always achieves immediate results. Well, then let us do it and earn a pride of place for ‘AAMCHI MUMBAI’ among mega-cities as a safe and a disciplined metropolis.

Ravindra Parasnis is a Retired Wing Commander of the Indian Air Force. Associated with many management institutes, he offers Consultancy & Advisory Services on Security, Disaster Management and HRD. He is also a freelance journalist in print as well as web media. He was on the Board of Governors of the National Safety Council for a decade.

The facts presented and opinions expressed in this booklet are those of the author alone.

Series Editor: Dr Nita Mukherjee

CONSUMER COURTS / Consumer Organisation

Maharastra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
The President

Administrative College, Room Nos. 1 and 2, Hazarimal Somani Marg, Opp. V.T. Station
Bombay
Maharastra – 400 001

Bombay District consumer dispute redressal Forum
The President
Arun Chamber,6th Floor Tardeo Road. Bombay: 400 034
Bombay
Maharastra – 400 034
Tel :- 2493 7770

Pune District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum
The President
692, Pushpa Heights Bibewadi
Pune
Maharastra – 411037
Tel :- 4217489

CONSUMER ORGANISATIONS

Consumer Guidance Society Of India (CGSI)
Dr. Arvind R. Shenoy (Chairman)
J-Block, Azad Maidan, Mahapalika Marg, Opp. Cama Hospital
Mumbai
Maharashtra
– 400001
Tel :- 91-22-22621612
Fax :- 22659715
Email :- cgsibom@bom4.vsnl.net.in,
Web :- www.cgsiindia.org

Federation of Indian Consumer Coordinatiors
Mr. Vijay S. Jathana (Secretary General)
A9/504,Shanti dham Near surya shopping Behind Bhaktivedanta Hospital Mira Road East
Thane
Maharashtra
– 401107

Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP)
Dr. Manohar S. Panjkar (Chairman)
Grahak Bhavan, Sant Dhyaneshwar Marg, Behind Cooper Hospital, Ville Parle (West)
Mumbai
Maharashtra
– 400056
Tel :- 022-26238124, 26209319
Fax :- 022-26250916
Email :- mgp@bom5.vsnl.net.in,

FAQs

ARE YOU A CONSUMER?

Q) Who is a consumer?

A) According to the Consumer Protection Act, any person/entity who buys goods or hires a service for personal use for consideration can be termed as a “consumer”. It would however not include goods bought for commercial purposes or resale but if you are an entrepreneur or are self employed and the goods used, are for the purpose of self-employment, (i.e. personally by you) you will be termed a consumer. The term “consumer” also includes any person who uses goods with the consent of the person who buys goods. A person who hires services or a beneficiary of such hired services would also be termed as a consumer of such service.

Q) What Are My Rights As A Consumer ?

A) Right to Safety – from harm caused by defective goods & services
Right to be Informed – about the goods being purchased & services availed
Right to Choose – from a variety of goods and services
Right to be Heard – about defective goods purchased or services rendered
Right to seek Redressal – from competent judicial or quasi judicial authorities
Right to Consumer Education – in order to enable you to exercise your rights freely

Q) What do I need to know about my rights as a consumer?

A) Consumer rights relate to that right of consumer to be protected from and be informed about the various goods purchased & services availed of. This is irrespective of the fact whether the consumer pays for the same directly or indirectly. Firstly the consumer has a right to be protected from defective goods & service. You must always have a right to be informed about and the right to choose from a variety of goods and services. A consumer also has the right to be informed about whether a particular good is dangerous or not. The consumer also has a right to be heard and to seek redressal in case of a deficiency or defect in the goods or services purchased. It is important for all consumers to know their rights and to be able to be exercise them freely.

Q) What are the special features of the Consumer Protection Act 1986?

A) The Act of 1986 is a special piece of legislation for the better protection of the interests of consumers. In District Fora, State Commission and the National Commission, extensive participation is given to non-legal or non-judicial persons to be members of the District Fora, State Commission or National Commission. The Act has been enacted to give succor and relief to the affected or aggrieved consumers quickly with nil or no expense. The Forum created under the Act of 1986 is uninhabited by the requirement of Court-fee or the formal procedures of Court, civil or criminal. The consumer himself need not necessarily file complaint. Any recognised consumers association can espouse his cause. Where a large of consumers have a similar complaint, one or more can file a complaint on behalf of all. Even the Central Government or State Government can act on his/their behalf.

 

 If you have further queries, please mail us at

advisor@core.nic.in in maximum 200 words

 IMPORTANT TERMS & MEANINGS

Q) What does the term ‘service’ mean ?

A) A consumer avails of numerous services in his/her day-to-day activity in return for a consideration, which has been paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment. The definition of “service” under the Act does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service. A few examples of services would include banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, boarding or lodging or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information. Also services by and large, include those provided by professionals such as Doctors, Engineers, Architects and Lawyers etc.

Q) What does the term “Deficiency” mean ?

A) Under the Act, “deficiency” means any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance of a service. In order to file a complaint against deficiency in service, such service should necessarily have been rendered for consideration. Such consideration may however been paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or the service may have been rendered under any system of deferred payment.

Q) What does the term ‘Goods’ mean ?

A) The term “goods” under the Consumer Protection Act means goods as defined in the Sale of Goods Act, 1930. The sale of Goods Act defines goods as every kind of movable property other than actionable claims and money; and includes stock and shares, growing crops, grass, and things attached to or forming part of the land, which are agreed to be severed before sale or under the contract of sale.

Q) What does the term ‘Defect’ mean ?

A) Defect means any fault, imperfection or shortcoming in the quality, quantity, potency, purity or standard which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or under any contract which express or implied or as is claimed by the trader in any manner whatsoever, in relation to any goods.

Q) What does the term ‘Restrictive Trade Practice’ mean ?

A) Restrictive trade practice means a trade practice which tends to bring about manipulation of price or its conditions of delivery or to affect flow of supplies in the market relating to goods or services in such a manner as to impose on the consumers unjustified costs or restrictions and shall include –

a) delay beyond the period agreed to by a trader in supply of such goods or in providing the services          which has led or is likely to lead to rise in the price;

(b) any trade practice which requires a consumer to buy, hire or avail of any goods or, as the case may       be, services as condition precedent to buying, hiring or availing of other goods or services

Q) What does ‘Unfair Trade Practice’ mean?

A) Unfair trade practice” means any unfair or deceptive method/practice adopted by a seller for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or supply of any goods or for the provision of any service. Such unfair trade practice will among others will include: -

(a) Making false or misleading representations that goods/services are of a particular standard/quality/quantity/grade,

(b) Falsely represents any re-built, second-hand, renovated, reconditioned or old goods as new goods

(c) Representing that goods/ services have characteristics/ uses/ accessories/ sponsorships etc. which they do not have or giving any guarantee as to performance/efficacy that is not based on an adequate or proper test’

(d) Representing that the seller or the supplier has a sponsorship or approval or affiliation which such seller or supplier does not have

(e) Misleading the public concerning the price at which products & services are sold or misleading the public concerning the need for, or the usefulness of, any goods or services;

(f) Gives to the public any warranty or guarantee of the performance, efficacy or length of life of a product or of any goods that is not based on an adequate or proper test thereof

(d) Advertising the supply of goods/services at bargain prices, when in fact they are not meant to be offered for sale at such bargain prices;

(e) Offering of gifts, prize with the intention of not providing them as offered or if the price of the gift/prize is actually included fully or partly in the item sold;.
(f) Non-compliance of product safety standard;

(g) Hoarding or destruction of goods.

Q) What does the term ‘Consideration’ mean?

A) Consideration under the Consumer Protection Act is defined in the same manner as it is under the Indian Contract Act, which defines Consideration as follows:

When, at the desire of the promisor, the promisee, or any other person has done or abstained from doing, or does or abstains from doing, or promises to do or to abstain from doing, something, such act or abstinence or promise is called a consideration for the promise.

The basic meaning of the above definition is that if as a consumer you promise to pay or do anything that can be reasonably construed as a payment or part of a payment (for a good or a service) then you have given adequate consideration for the good you wish to buy or the service you wish to avail of. The same is true for lending of your goods to a third party or letting a third party avail of the services for which you have paid.

STATUTORY RIGHTS OF CONSUMERS

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, guarantees the following statutory rights to the consumers-

  1. The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property: To simplify this it can be said that it is the duty of the manufacturers and the distributor not to supply any goods to the consumers which fails to comply with the general safety requirements in all circumstances. It is important to know that safety standards are published from time to time by the relevant authorities in relation to many types of consumer goods.
  1. The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be, so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices; by simplifying this right it can be said that consumers are given the right to information. This is intended to save the consumers from unfair trade practices like false and misleading descriptions about the nature and quality of goods, exaggerated statements about their power or potency, for example, that the hair oil is capable of promoting hair growth or preventing hair loss where there is no such power to an appreciable extent. It may be noted that a victim of unfair trade practices would be able to come before a Consumer Forum only if he is a consumer within the meaning of the Act. Other buyers would have to go to the Monopolies Commission under MRTP Act.
  1. The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices; For the convenience of the consumers the Central Council has been charged with the responsibility of bringing about the organization of markets and market  practices in such a way that all dealers are supplied with a variety of goods for the benefit of the consumers and that the goods with a variety are being offered at competitive prices. It is only then the consumers will have access to variety and will be able to enjoy the benefit of competitive prices.
  1. The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interest will receive due consideration at appropriate forums; Right to be heard is not only the the foremost right of consumers it is a principle of natural justice also. The Central Council is charged with the responsibility of assuring to consumers that they would be heard as of right by appropriate forums and consumers will receive due attention and consideration from such forums.
  1. The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; The consumers have been given the right to seek redress against restrictive/unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation. The right can be explained clearly by following example – where money was deposited in advance for the supply of a car within two months and the car was actually supplied some time after two months, in such situation retention of money beyond the period of two months is an unfair trade practice and the consumers can claim proper interest on the deposit for the period of delay.
  1. The right to consumer education. This right is most important right because once the people are rendered conscious of their power, they may perhaps, feel energized to struggle against exploitation by manufacturers and traders. The Central Council has been charged with the responsibility to provide to the people proper education in terms of their remedies under the Act. It can be hoped that people’s awareness is likely to prove a better tool for putting the trade on some level of discipline than tons of Government controls.

However, consumer’s strongest and the most precious right, which he keeps to the last, is the ‘refusal to buy’ and withdraw the patronage from the seller who always craves for it because, without it, he has none to sell.

Vandana Singh (CCC)

EXERCISING YOUR RIGHTS AS CONSUMER

Q. What should I do in case my Rights as a Consumer are violated?

A)Before you start to take legal action it is important to try and resolve the problem yourself. Make sure you are calm. Be clear and reasonable. If you are not sure what you are entitled to do under the law, ask for advice first. Do not loose your temper. Talk to all the concerned persons. All this would hold you in good stead if and when your case goes to court.

Q. What are some other useful tips in case of defective products?

  • A lot of times, some simple tips like getting back to the seller or trader would save you a lot of time, money and tension. Most respectable manufacturers/ shop keepers have an exchange or money back policy which could be availed of. The following tips would be handy-
  • Tell the trader/ service provider as soon as you discover the fault so that you could exchange the product or get the appropriate remedy immediately.
  • Do not delay in regard to return back to the seller or trader. A lot of products have a limited warranty period and if the complaint is within time then you may be able to get the remedy you want quickly.
  • Stop using the item! If you continue to use it despite knowing the defect then it would be difficult for you to get any kind of compensation or relief from the opposite party or the consumer courts.
  • Always give the trader or organization the chance to sort out your problem, before resorting to Court action.

Q. What are the required documents and facts?

A) Always keep copies of your bills, written contracts, estimates, receipts, warranties, and other documents that are related to the complaint. Keep detailed written notes of all conversations with the business including names and dates.. Keep copies of any letters you send. Never throw away or misplace any of these documents after you make your purchase as most people often do.

Q. What are my legal rights?

A)Firstly the consumer has a right to be protected from defective goods & service. You have a right to be informed about and the right to choose from a variety of goods and services. The consumer also has a right to be heard and to seek redressal in case of a deficiency or defect in the goods or services purchased. It is important for all consumers to know their rights and to be able to be exercise them freely. Therefore you are entitled to approach a consumer court for justice.

Q. Have I exhausted all other remedies?

A) It is important to have exhausted all other remedies before filing a complaint . This will be viewed positively in a consumer court .Going to court is a big step and should not be taken lightly. What you will have to do is –

  • Make sure you have complained to the right person
  • Find out where their Head office located .
  • Then proceed to write to the customer service manager who is authorized deal with all complaints.
  • If any one from the local branch has not followed up with your complaint the mention it in your letter or phone call.
  • It is of course, better to write and mail your complaint as you can keep a record of it for future reference.
  • Remember, do not threaten or abuse any one. Always be polite but firm.
  • If not ,the opposite party will mention it in their response to your complaint if the matter reaches court.
  • If all this fails then look to consumer organizations for advice for dealing with your complaint. Some of them may take up the matter on your behalf and will follow it up. Many of them have the necessary experience to deal with these matters.

Q. Can I still go to Court if my complaint is redressed in part?

A) Yes, if you feel that the remedy provided by the trader is not what you had asked for then you may approach the consumer courts. For example, upon detecting some defect in a new washing machine you had just purchased you approach the seller & inform that you would like to have it replaced with a new one. The seller however, offers to have only the defective part repaired. If you are still not satisfied with this offer you may approach the courts for the relief that you originally wanted. This is of course subject to the terms and conditions of the purchase or agreement between parties.

Q. If some one performs a free service for me which is defective can I still approach the courts for any relief ?

A) No, not if the service provided to you if absolutely free. If the person who performed the service has not received any money or ‘pay’ for the service performed then it does not fall within the definition of service under the Consumer Protection Act. Therefore you would not be able to make him liable under the act or be able to take him to a consumer court. However in certain circumstances, like in the case of a government hospital or doctor ,you could file a complaint even though the service provided to you is free. The doctor or hospital could still be liable in case of any deficiency of service because even though you have not paid any money they would still receive a remuneration from the government for providing this service. The fact that they get paid for their work , whatever the source of the pay, entitles you to file a complaint against them & make them liable. The detailed position is as under-

(i) Where services are rendered free of charge, with no payment received directly or indirectly, the Act does not apply.
(ii) But, where the fees charged are required to be paid by every body availing of the services, then the Consumer Protection Act, applies.
(iii) Where charges are required to be paid by persons availing of services, but certain categories of persons (who cannot afford to pay) are not charged for services, then also, the Act applies.

Q.  What relief can I expect on my complaint for defective products?

A) You will have to carefully consider what is the appropriate relief you want or expect from the trader or the seller, viz.-

  • Do you wish to have your money refunded.?
  • Do you want the product repaired?
  • Do you want the product replaced?
  • Do you want any compensation?
  • Do you want them to discontinue the sale of goods in question?
  • Do you want a simple apology from the trader or service provider?
  • Don’t be vague. When you are absolutely sure of what you want, you must mention it clearly to the trader, manufacturer or to the consumer courts as the case may be.

Q.  What are the questions that would help you sustain your case?

A) The following questions would give you a good idea as to whether your case is maintainable and could be agitated in a court or consumer forum-

  • Firstly you have to consider whether your complaint is justified?
  • Secondly have you complained to the right person?
  • Thirdly have you made out a sustainable legal ground?
  • Fourthly it is important to know if you have marshaled all your facts properly?
  • And lastly what are the relief’s you are seeking from your complaint?

    Q.  What Does The Act Apply To?

    A) The Act applies to all goods and services unless specifically exempted by the Central Government. It covers all the sectors whether private, public or cooperative.

    Q. Can I Argue And Present My Complaint In Court Myself?

    A) Yes, You do not have to be a lawyer to argue before consumer courts, or for that matter any civil Court. However if the matter is a complicated one it is always advisable to engage someone including a lawyer with necessary experience in such matters. By a series of judgments, the Courts have granted a party to the proceeding before the District Forum/State Commission the right to authorise a person of his choice to represent him and also to examine and cross-examine the witnesses, address the Court and take part in the proceedings as the case may be.

  •  FILING A COMPLAINT

    Q)Who can file a complaint ?

    A) Any person who can be termed as a consumer under the Act can make a complaint. The following are the persons who can file a complaint under the Act :

    • a consumer; or
    • any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or under any other law for the time being in force, or
    • the Central Government or any State Government,
    • one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest.

    Q) What are the issues to consider when filing a complaint?

    A) You would have to check where the jurisdiction would lie and then ascertain the value of the claim. You will have to file your complaint depending upon the amount of money or compensation you want from the opposite party for the deficient service he has provided you or for the defective product that you have been sold. It is important to note that most Judges in these courts will be able to tell if you are unnecessarily filing a complaint & are just trying to make a quick buck.

     

    Q) Where do I file my complaint?

    Pecuniary Jurisdiction

    • In cases where the value of goods and services involved is less than Rs. 20 Lakhs in value, you will have to file the complaint in the District Forum constituted in the specified districts of a State.
    • In cases where the value of goods and services involved is more than Rs. 20 Lakhs in value but does not exceed Rs 1 crore you will have to file the complaint with the State Commission constituted in the capital cities of the different states
    • In cases where the value of goods and services involved is more than 1 crore in value then you can file a complaint with the National Commission which has been constituted only in New Delhi.

    Territorial Jurisdiction.

    The jurisdiction of the complaint is determined by the facts of the case and where the cause of action arises. Further, when you file a complaint, the area in which the opposite party resides or carries on his work or business will also have to be taken into consideration by you. This means that if you are filing a complaint against a service provider for a sum below 20 lakhs you would have to approach the District Forum in the jurisdiction where the cause of action arose. If the matter is above 20 lakhs but below 1 crore then it would be filed in the State Commission within which State the trader/ service provider/ manufacturer is located in the state in which the trader resides or works in. These two factors will have to be kept in mind while filing your complaint.

    Q) How many Consumer Courts are there?

    A) There are consumer forums at the District, State and National level. At present, there are 569 District Forums, 33 State Commissions & the highest body which is the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) having its office at Janpath Bhawan, A Wing, 5th Floor, Janpath , New Delhi. The District Forums are headed by the person who is or has been or is eligible to be appointed as a District Judge and the State Commissions are headed by a person who is or has been a Judge of High Court. The National Commission is headed by a sitting or retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India.

    Hierarchy of Consumer Courts in India
    (Visual Representation)

    Q) Are other Court Excluded from hearing consumer disputes?

    A) The jurisdiction of other courts to hear consumer disputes is not excluded. This is because the Parliament of India felt it was necessary to have an efficient & convenient mechanism to address and resolve the various consumer complaints across the country. As a result it created a three-tier remedial machinery for the inexpensive and quick disposal of consumer complaints. As these forums only deal with consumer complaints/issues and nothing else, all their time can be devoted to addressing consumers complaints.

    Q) What Do I Put In My Complaint ?

    A) Your complaint has to be clear ,definite and precise. All your facts and documentation must be in order. You will have to include -

    (a) A cause-title.
    (b) The complaint should, if possible have a heading
    (c) The name, description and address of the complainant.(your name)
    (d) The name, description and address of the opposite party or parties as the case may be, so far as they can be ascertained.
    (e) The facts relating to the complaint and when and where it arose.
    (f) How the opposite parties are liable to be proceeded against and why are they answerable or accountable to this petition.
    (g) Copies of documents in support of the allegations contained in the petition. Complainants are advised to keep copies of the complaint / petition and all furnished documents for their records. A list of documents should also be furnished along with the complaint, duly signed by you.
    (h) You would also need to state how the case falls within the jurisdiction of the tribunal-whether the opposite party resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain within the jurisdiction of the forum or whether the cause of action (damaged goods or deficient service) arose within the Forum’s jurisdiction.
    (i) You are also entitled to claim the costs of your complaint from the opposite party. Hence include that amount in your complaint.

    Q) Is There A Fee For Filing A Complaint ?

    A) Under the original un-amended Act of 1986, no requirement of payment of Court-fee or any other formal procedure of Court was contemplated. However, after the amendment of 2002, there is a nominal fee you may have to pay for filing a complaint. For example in the District Forum located in Delhi the fee structure is as follows –

    1. Up to 1 Lakh – Rs.100
    2. 1 Lakh & above but less that 5 Lakhs – Rs.200
    3. 5 Lakhs & above but less that 10 Lakhs – Rs.400
    4. 10 Lakhs & above but less that 20 Lakhs – Rs. 500

    You will have to pay the specified fee in the form of a crossed demand draft drawn on a nationalized bank or through a crossed Indian Postal Order in Favour of the Registrar of the State Commission & payable where it is situated. The concerned District Forum shall deposit the amount so received.

    Q) Is There Any Time Limit For Filing A Complaint ?

    A) Yes, the time limit is within two years from the date on which the cause of action arises. This would mean two years from the day the deficiency in service or defect in goods has arisen/detected.

    Q) Can This Time Limit Ever Be Extended ?

    A) Yes ,But only under certain Circumstances. If the time limit expires but you are still able to satisfy the Forum or Commission about the reasonableness in the delay, your complaint can still be taken up. However, the delay for every single day has to be explained

    Q) Do I Have To Be There Myself To File A Complaint ?

    A) Not necessarily , you can present your petition in person or by an authorized representative. You may also send the complaint/petition by Registered Post. It is good to send some extra Copies and to keep an extra one for yourself as well. You will also need to give a copy to the opposite party.

    Q) Can More Than One Consumer File A Single Common Complaint ?

    A) Yes, consumers having the same problem can join together and file a single complaint. This can be done by enclosing a petition with the complaint for joining together and filing a complaint. This petition should just state that since the facts and circumstances relating to the complaint are the same and also since the same relief is to be claimed for all the petitioners they may be allowed to join together and file a single complaint.

    Q) How Do I Inform The Opposite Party about the complaint ?

    A) A notice is required to be sent to the opposite party. This can be done by registered post which is to be delivered to the address where the opposite party resides , works or carry’s on his business.

    Q) Can I Approach The Consumer Courts If I bought the Goods or Services for Commercial Purposes?

    A) No, the Consumer Courts are only meant for the ordinary consumers who have bought goods & services for their own use or needs. Those who buy the goods/services for commercial purposes or resale purposes are excluded from the act. This forum is not meant for businesses ,firms and Industries but for the common man/consumer looking for quick & effective justice.

    COMPENSATION & RELIEFS

    Q)What Are The Relief’s I Could Get From The Consumer Courts ?

    A) If the Consumer Court is satisfied that your claim is genuine and that you have suffered a loss due to a lack in service or fault in the goods purchased by you, the Court may issue the following directions to the opposite party.
    It may instruct the opposite party-

    • To remove the defects/deficiencies from the goods/service in question.
    • To pay adequate compensation to you for loss caused.
    • To pay the costs of the proceedings to you.
    • To replace the goods with new ones of similar description.
    • To return the price of the goods or services.
    • To discontinue the unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practice with immediate effect.
    • To withdraw the sale of hazardous goods.

    Remember, the value of the relief includes damages, costs and refund amount if any. Compensation may also be sought on account of consequential damages, in spite of the fine print in many contracts, that the seller is not responsible.

    Q) Is There Any Limit On The Amount Of Compensation I Can Receive?

    A) There is no limit on amount of compensation you can claim, but it has to be proportionate & rational with the loss or injury suffered by you. Always be reasonable in the amount you want to claim as this will make it easier for the court to make a finding in your favour.

    Q) Do I Have To Specify The Amount I Want As Compensation?

    A) You may do so if you want. If you are asking for compensation, quantify the amount and state the break up i.e. how the amount is arrived at and under what heads. If the relief cannot be quantified give a notional valuation. However, you must not be greedy by asking for unusually high or large amounts as this will make you and your complaint look bad in a consumer court.

    Q) Can I also claim compensation for Negligence due to a defective product or Service?

    A) Yes you can. In case you want to claim consequential damages due to negligence please note that Negligence must have been categorically and clearly alleged, defined and established in your notice to the opposite party and subsequently in your petition to get compensation under Consumer Protection Act.

    EXECUTION & COMPLIANCE OF ORDERS

    Q) How can the Consumer Courts enforce their Decisions ?

    A) The District Forum , State Commission & the National Commission all have the power of a Judicial Magistrate of the first class for the trial of offences under this Act and when conferred with the powers they shall also deemed to be a Judicial Magistrate of the first class for the purpose of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

    Q) How Can I Be Sure That The Opposite Party Will Comply With The Order If It Is In My Favour ?

    A) The consumer protection act ensures that the mere failure, omission or delay in complying with the order of the consumer courts will amount to an offence. The opposite party shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 1 month but which may extend to 3 years, or with fine which shall not be less than Rs. 2,000 but which may extend to ten thousand rupees, or with both. In case an interim order of the consumer courts is not complied with then it may order the attachment & eventual sale of the property of that person.

    Q) Is There Any Application I Can File If There Is No Compliance?

    A) Yes, in case of non compliance of an order from any of the consumer courts you can file an application for the amount due to you. Upon such application the consumer courts may issue a certificate for the amount to the collector of the district and he can proceed to recover the amount due to you in the same manner as arrears of land revenue.

    Q) Would The Same Also Apply To Me ?

    A) Yes, under certain circumstances. For example if the consumer courts feel that you have filed a frivolous complaint it may impose costs (up to Rs 10,000) on you and if you do not pay you could be subjected to the same punishment.

    Q) What Do I Have To Look For While Buying A Product ?

    A) Always check that the product you are purchasing is an original one. This would help you in case of some defect where you can always avail of the warranty. You must check & inspect the goods itself and see that there is no apparent defect. Always read the fine print and check all the details. This is absolutely your responsibility alone. Always purchase quality marked products such as those with the ISI ,AG MARK, etc.

     

    EXECUTION & COMPLIANCE OF ORDERS

    Q) How can the Consumer Courts enforce their Decisions ?

    A) The District Forum , State Commission & the National Commission all have the power of a Judicial Magistrate of the first class for the trial of offences under this Act and when conferred with the powers they shall also deemed to be a Judicial Magistrate of the first class for the purpose of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

    Q) How Can I Be Sure That The Opposite Party Will Comply With The Order If It Is In My Favour ?

    A) The consumer protection act ensures that the mere failure, omission or delay in complying with the order of the consumer courts will amount to an offence. The opposite party shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 1 month but which may extend to 3 years, or with fine which shall not be less than Rs. 2,000 but which may extend to ten thousand rupees, or with both. In case an interim order of the consumer courts is not complied with then it may order the attachment & eventual sale of the property of that person.

    Q) Is There Any Application I Can File If There Is No Compliance?

    A) Yes, in case of non compliance of an order from any of the consumer courts you can file an application for the amount due to you. Upon such application the consumer courts may issue a certificate for the amount to the collector of the district and he can proceed to recover the amount due to you in the same manner as arrears of land revenue.

    Q) Would The Same Also Apply To Me ?

    A) Yes, under certain circumstances. For example if the consumer courts feel that you have filed a frivolous complaint it may impose costs (up to Rs 10,000) on you and if you do not pay you could be subjected to the same punishment.

    Q) What Do I Have To Look For While Buying A Product ?

    A) Always check that the product you are purchasing is an original one. This would help you in case of some defect where you can always avail of the warranty. You must check & inspect the goods itself and see that there is no apparent defect. Always read the fine print and check all the details. This is absolutely your responsibility alone. Always purchase quality marked products such as those with the ISI ,AG MARK, etc.

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