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Lawyers With 10 Years’ Experience To Be Qualified For Consumer Forum Appointments: SC

The Supreme Court bench held today that lawyers with an experience of 10 years are to be considered as qualified to appointments of president and members in district and state consumer dispute redressal forums. The development comes as the apex court upheld the decision of the Nagpur Bench decision of the Bombay High Court.

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The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices MR Shah and MM Sundresh held today that lawyers with an experience of 10 years are to be considered as qualified to appointments in district and state consumer dispute redressal forums. The development comes as the apex court upheld the decision of the Nagpur Bench decision of the Bombay High Court.

In the matter at hand the new Consumer protection Rules, 2020 provided a requirement of minimum 20 years for state consumer commissions and 15 years for district forums. This provision was challenged before the Bombay High Court.

The Bombay High court had resultantly struck down the provisions of Consumer protection Rules, 2020 dealing with the above-mentioned qualification for appointment for adjudicating members of state consumer commissions and district forums. Another provision that was struct down by the court was the provision giving state selection committees to determine their own procedure to recommend names for appointment for the state government to consider.

The high court bench comprising Justices Sunil Shukre and Anil Khor referred to Supreme court judgements in Madras Bar Association cases where it was held that lawyer with a professional experience of 10 years should be considered for appointment an tribunal members. The rules in the new consumer protection rules were observed as averting the Supreme Court judgements.

Then Supreme Court bench directed that till the time amendments are made as per Article 142, a person having bachelor’s degree from a recognised university and who is a person of ability, integrity, and having special knowledge and professional experience of not less than 10 years in consumer affairs, law, public affairs, administration will be qualified for appointment as president and member in state and district consumer forums.

The bench further directed that the appointment will be based on performance in two exam papers as well as a VIVA for each , where the qualifying marks would be 50% in papers and 50 marks in the VIVA.

The bench added that the mechanism for having written exams was provided by the apex court but the provision was done away in the new rules. However, there was no justification provided for doing away with these exams.

Case: The Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs v. Dr. Mahindra Bhaskar Limaye and Ors