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Consumer Protection Act,1986
Aims and Objectives

  • To provide certain important scheduled commodities to the ration card holders at reasonable rates at prescribed quantum.
  • To indirectly control open market prices of certain commodities.
  • To protect the interests of consumers through enforcement of Weights & Measures Act and rules thereunder.
  • To implement Minimum Support Price Scheme of the Central Government to safeguard farmer's interests
  • Matters incidental and supplementary to the above objectives.
  • To promote & protect the rights of consumers by theway of implementation of Consumer Protection Act.

Functions of the Department

  • To implement the Public Distribution System in the State
  • To implement Minimum Support Price Scheme.
  • To implement Maharashtra Rice (Levy on Rice millers) Order, 1989.
  • To implement Mid Day Meal Scheme in association with school education Department.
  • To assist implement ''Annapurna'' Scheme of the Central Government.
  • Creation and maintenance of storage facilities for PDS.
  • Implementation of Consumer Protection Act, 1986    

Defination of Consumer
Defination of Consumer as defined in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, 'Consumer' means any person who -

  • buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment when such use is made with the approval of such person,but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose; or
  • hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first mentioned person;{Explanation,- For the purposes of sub-clause (i), "commercial purpose" does not include use by a consumer of goods bought and used by him exclusively for the purpose of earning his livelihood, by means of self-employment.

Implementation of Consumer Protection Act
Consumer Protection:- This department is nodal department for implementing provisions of the consumer protection Act 1986, and for that purpose following authorities have been established for the redressal of grievances of the Consumers :

  • Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at State Level.
  • District Forums at District levels.

State Commission

  • The State Commission is established in the year 1989. The President and two other members appointed on this Commission.
  • The person, who is or has been a judge of the High Court, is appointed as the President and two other members, who shall be persons of ability, integrity and standing and have adequate knowledge or experience of, or have shown capacity in dealing with problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration are appointed.
  • Out of the two members, one will be a lady member. The Commission shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds Rs.20,00,000/- but does not exceed Rs.100,00,000/-. It also decides the appeals filed against the judgements of the District Forums.

District Forums

  • A person who is or has been or is qualified to be a District Judge is appointed as the President and two other Members, who are having qualifications as that of State Commission members; are appointed on the District Forum.
  • Out of these two members, one will be a lady member .The Forum shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods or services and the compensation, if any claimed does not exceed Rs. 20 lakhs.
  • In Maharashtra, every district has got one forum and the districts of Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur have additional forums as they have more number of complaints. At present 34 district forums are working in the State.

State Consumer Protection Council

  • This Council was initially constituted in the year 1987, for a period of 3 years. This Council consists Members of Parliaments, Members of Legislative Assemblies, representatives of Voluntary Consumer Organizations, Representatives of Trade and Commerce Organization, Government Officials, persons in the Consumer Protection field as well as the journalists.
  • The objects of this Council is to promote and protect within the State, the rights of the consumers as laid down in 'Section 6 ' of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
  • Important Schemes for Consumer Protection
  • Every year the Government makes budgetary provisions for the Consumer Welfare Fund and it is spent on the Consumer Protection related matters.
  • There are many Voluntary Consumer Organizations. Since, these
  • Transitions contribute to the welfare of the consumers and create awareness, such organizations are given assistance for their work.
  • The Central Government has started a Scheme under which the Voluntary Consumer Organizations which do commendable work in the Consumer Protection field are granted Rs.50,000/-,Rs.40,000/- & Rs.30,000/- along with Merit Certificate.
  • Similarly, there is National Youth Scheme under which the Youths between 15-35 years age-group are given Rs.20,000/-,Rs.15,000/- & Rs.10,000/- along with Merit Certificate for their contribution in consumer field. The State Government recommends, the names received from the Consumer Organizations to the Central Government.
  • To create awareness in the School/College students, lecturers are given in each district and for that purpose visiting lecturers are appointed.
  • Apart from the above, the Government has created Consumer Protection Cells at District level under the Chairmanship of the Collector. The Cell consists of 17 unofficial members from different Consumer Organizations, representatives of Gas dealers, petrol dealers & Traders' Organizations apart from the Senior Officers at District level connected with consumer goods/services.
  • The meetings of the Cell are held every month and the consumer problems are solved on the spot and many other problems are settled after regular follow-up

Public Distribution System

Fair Price Shops
Procedure of sanctioning Fair Price Shops
In Maharashtra Fair Price Shops are sanctioned by
a) By Advertisement: Applications for sanctioning of Fair Price Shop are invited by way of advertisement published in local newspaper.A notice to that effect is also pasted on notice board at " Chavadi "
b)Without advertisement

  • For sanctioning Fair Price Shop at villages having a population less than 5000, applications are invited by way of pasting a notice to that effect on notice board at "Chavadi " and also by giving publicity by way of "Dawandi"(beat of drums). In such case publishing advertisement in local newspaper is not necessory.
  • Moreover the Fair Price Shops can be allotted to the state level organisations like , Mahila Arhik Vikas Mahamandal, Marketing Federation, Vidarbh Co-operative Marketing Society, Maharashtra Tribal Development Corporation,Apana Bazar, Super Bazar etc, without formal advertisement in news paper.

Reservation for individual womens
The 33% of the the total shops to be sanctioned are reserved for individual womens.The reservation is done by lottery method in the meeting of the " local Vigillance Committee" before publishing the advertisement in the news paper.
(II)Priority List followed for sanctioning Fair Price Shops
After receipt of applications for sanction of fair price shops the following priority list is followed :

A) Integrated Tribal Development Area

  • Permanently residing local Educated unemployed tribal person (male / female )
  • Permanently resided local tribal person ( male / female )
  • Tribal Co-operative Society
  • Village Level Multi-purpose service co-operative society
  • Consumer Co-operative society of Tribal Women
  • Other consumer co-operative society

B) Other Areas

  • Wife of defence personnel died in military action, his major son or unmarried daughter / Ex Serviceman/Handicapped persons / Project affected persons
  • Educated unemployed person ( male / female )
  • Person belonging to SC, ST, VJ & NT
  • Consumer Cooperative Society of backward class
  • Women's Consumer Cooperative Society
  • Other Consumer Cooperative Society
  • Village level multipurpose cooperative service society
  • Others 

Recommendation by Gramasabha
Then in rural areas after scrutiny of applications so received lists of eligible persons / organizations are kept before gram sabha. The gram sabhas are asked to select proper candidate for sanction of fair price shop as per priority list prescribed by the State Government. The District Supply Officer formally sanctions fair price shop to the person selected by gram sabha
      
In urban areas the after scrutiny of applications so received the licensing authority competent authority selects proper candidate as per priority list for allotment of fair price shop and the shop is so sanctioned. In tribal areas locally resided tribal person has been given highest priority for sanctioning of fair price shop.

Mechanism of Lifting, Transportation & Delivery To F.P.Shops.

  • There is no State Civil Supplies Corporation in Maharashtra.The arrangements for lifting of foodgrains from FCI depots to Government godowns at various blocks are made through the supply machinery of the State Government.
  • In Mumbai-Thane Rationing Area, the Director of Civil Supplies (Warehousing & Movement) lifts the foodgrains from FCI depots, transports these grains to various State Government godowns, standardise the bags and issue these grains to the Fair Price Shopkeepers or their organised bodies as per the Delivery Orders issued by the Controller of Rationing, Mumbai.
  • In districts, the Additional Collector and District Supply Officer remits the money to FCI, lifts and transports the foodgrains through the transport contractors, stores these grains after standardisation in State godowns at block level and these foodgrains are issued to the Fair Price Shopkeepers by the Godown Keepers, as per the permits issued by the Tahsildar.
  • Door Step Delivery Scheme:- The Door Step Delivery Scheme is being implemented in the Tribal areas and DPAP areas wherein the transportation of the commodities is carried out from Government godowns up to door step of Fair Price shops by the Government vehicles and at the Government cost. At present, about 5,000 Fair Price Shops in ITDP areas are covered by 162 vehicles and about 2,000 Fair Price Shops in DPAP areas are covered by 90 vehicles. In tribal areas, the scheme is being implemented through the Maharashtra State Cooperative Tribal Development Corporation Limited, while in DPAP areas it is implemented through the Maharashtra State Cooperative Marketing Federation Limited. The Corporation and the Federation are reimbursed for running cost of the Scheme @ Rs.15.00 and Rs.13.00 per quintal , respectively.

Important provisions under Targeted Public Distribution System

  • Availability of Foodgrains in first week :- The State Government has prescribed detailed time table for lifting of foodgrains and other essential commodities and making them available through fair price shops, in first week of every month. The instructions are issued to take strict action against defaulting fair price shopkeepers.
  • Weekly drawal of ration quota :- The cardholders are allowed to draw their entitlements from fair price shops on weekly basis.
  • Drawal of ration quota of previous month :- The cardholders are allowed to draw their ration for previous months in the succeeding month.
  • Timings of Fair Price Shops :- Instructions are issued to keep the fair price shops open for at least four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening on all days of the month. In industrial areas and at the places of weekly bazaar's, shopkeepers are asked to keep open their shops throughout the day on such days.
  • Display of lists of beneficiaries :- The shopkeepers are asked to display the lists of the beneficiaries under BPL / Antyodaya / Annapurna in fair price shops and allow the cardholders to see them.
  • Display of Stock position :-It is mandatary on the FPS to display the stock position prominently on the shop. The Shop keepers are also instructed to display the price of each of the commodity
  • Publish monthly quantum :- The district authorities are asked to give wide publicity to the commodities being distributed through targeted PDS, their quantum and rates, through local news papers. They are also instructed to display copies of such press notes on the notice boards of Gram Panchayat. The district collectors are also instructed to take help of local audio visual media like local cable TV operators for publishing this information.
  • Right of information regarding the Fair Price Shops (FPSs) :- Address of the FPS is written on every ration card in state. The FPS in the state should maintain basic information regarding name of card holders, No. of Units, and Identity of residence of the card holder and BPL cards should be marked distinctly.
  • Involvement of the Gram Sabha in the running of the FPS :-It has made mandatary to discuss about the working of FPS in the village as priority subject on the agenda of Gram Sabha .
  • Information on ration cards :- On recently issued tricolor ration cards the consumer's rights and instructions for making complaints are printed.
  • Furnishing information concerning PDS to interest groups :-
  1. Any person/institution N.G.O. (Local or outsider) can apply for information about the quota sanctioned to a Fair Price Shop, Number of Cards attached to the Fair Price Shops, Card population, Quantum and Actual Off takes /sale from the Fair Price Shops.
  2. A nominal fee of Rs.3/- per month for information, will be charged up to last three months. Information beyond a period of last three months and up to one year will be on payment of Rs.5/- per month. The relevant information will be supplied to the applicant preferably within 24 hours and in any case within four days from the date of application.
  3. The information can be sent by post also.
  4. The information will be supplied in the prescribed pro forma over the seal and signature of Rationing Officer/ Tahsildar.
  5. Rationing Officer/ Tahsildar to provide shop wise/ village wise information of last month's off takes and current month's sanctioned quota to B.D.O. for onward transmission of this information to all concerned village Panchayats.
  6. Instructions have been also issued for display of shop wise sanctioned quota of various commodities on the Notice Board of Rationing Officer/ Tahsil Office.

Storage Facility for Public Distribution System
'Annapurna' Scheme
Under "Annapurna scheme" 10 Kgs of foodgrains per month are provided free of cost to the destitutes, aged 65 years and above.

Elligilibility Criteria
1) The age of the person (male or Female) should be 65 years or above.
2)The person must be destitute in the sense of having little or no regular means of subsistence from his/her own source of Income or through financial support from family members or other sources.
3) The person should not be in receipt of pension under the National old age pension scheme or state pension scheme.

Procedure for Application
The application in prescribed proforma is to be submitted to the concerned Tahasildar or Collector through Gramsevak /Talathi/Ward Officer/Chief officer of Municipal Council, in areas other than Mumbai/Thane Rationing Area. In Mumbai/Thane Rationing Area application form is to be submitted to the Controller of Rationing, Royal Insurance Building , Churchgate, Mumbai, through rationing office.If case of difficulty, Tahasildar or Collector/ Controller can be contacted.At present nearly 1,20,000 beneficiaries have been identified & 10 kgs of foodgrains Free of Cost are being distributed to them.

Other Schemes

  • Minimum Support Price Scheme: This Scheme of the Central Government is implemented on behalf of the Food Corporation of India. It aims at safeguarding the interests of farmers and prevents distress sales of certain foodgrains. MSP is declared by GOI every season. In Maharashtra MSP Scheme is mainly implemented for Paddy, Jowar, Bajra and Maize. For Kharif Season of year 2000-2001, the MSP for FAQ Paddy 'A' Grade is Rs.540/-, for Common Paddy Rs.510/- and for Jowar, Bajra and Maize (FAQ) Rs.445/- per quintal. The specifications for determining the FAQ standards are also prescribed. The Maharashtra State Co-op. Tribal Development Corporation Ltd. (for Tribal Sub Plan Areas) and the Maharashtra State Co-op. Marketing Federation Ltd. (for rest of the areas) are appointed as procurement agencies who open purchase centers at important market centers/block headquarters for purchase of paddy and coarse grains from the farmers during the marketing season. The grains are purchased at these centers after verifying that the seller is really a farmer/producer and not a trader through 7/12 Extracts, etc.
  • Collection of Levy Rice: This Scheme is implemented in the main rice growing districts of the State. As per Maharashtra Rice (Levy on Rice-millers) Order, 1989,the rice millers are required to give levy on the paddy milled in their mills at a prescribed percentage. At present, levy on rice millers is 30% in the State. The levy is not on the farmers. The rates of levy rice are fixed by the Central Government every season. Levy Rice Prices for the Kharif Procurement Season of the year 2000-2001 are Rs.831.5 for Raw Rice Common Grade, Rs.833.70 for Parboiled Rice Common Grade, Rs.877.20 for 'A' Grade Raw Rice and Rs.878.70 for 'A' Grade Parboiled Rice, per quintal. The procurement of levy rice is done by FCI through the District Additional Collectors and District Supply Officers. In the last season, about 56,000 MT of levy rice is collected in the State. The specifications of levy rice are also prescribed. Government of India has exempted the Levy on Rice in Maharashtra for the current 2000-2001 year.
  • ''Annapurna'' Scheme: Under "Annapurna scheme" 10 Kgs of foodgrains per month are provided free of cost to the destitutes, aged 65 years and above.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The age of the person (male or Female) should be 65 years or above.
  • The person must be destitute in the sense of having little or no regular means of subsistence from his/her own source of Income or through financial support from family members or other sources.
  • The person should not be in receipt of pension under the National old age pension scheme or state pension scheme.

Procedure for Application
The application in prescribed proforma is to be submitted to the concerned Tahasildar or Collector through Gramsevak /Talathi/Ward Officer/Chief officer of Municipal Council, in areas other than Mumbai/Thane Rationing Area. In Mumbai/Thane Rationing Area application form is to be submitted to the Controller of Rationing, Royal Insurance Building , Churchgate, Mumbai, through rationing office.If case of difficulty, Tahasildar or Collector/ Controller can be contacted.At present nearly 8000 beneficiaries have been identified & 10 kgs of foodgrains Free of Cost are being distributed to them.