5 December 2022


Judgments

High Court of Bombay

Vijaykumar Bhima Dighe v. Union of India and others and Dr.Mahindra Bhaskar Limaye v.Union of India and others

MANU/MH/2619/2021

14.09.2021

Civil

Advocates with a minimum 10 years of experience could be considered for appointment to Tribunals as members.

The Bombay High Court has struck down certain provisions of the new Consumer Protection Rules, 2020, framed under Section 101 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. The new rules, elaborately known as Consumer Protection (Qualification for appointment, method of recruitment, procedure of appointment, term of office, resignation and removal of the President and members of the State Commission and District Commission) Rules, 2020, pertain to the qualifications, eligibility, appointment and removal of members of State Consumer Commissions and District Consumer Forums. The now annulled rules provided for at least 20 years and 15 years of professional experience respectively for adjudicating members to the State consumer commissions and District forums. Further, the High Court also annulled provisions that gave state selection committees the power to determine their own procedure of recommending names for appointment in the order of merit for the State Government to consider.

In this case, the petitioners had argued that the rules to exclude lawyers who have 10 to 20 years experience from becoming Members in State Commission and lawyers having experience of 10 to 15 years from becoming Members in District Consumer Forums in State of Maharashtra were violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Further, the petitioners pointed to certain provisions that gave arbitrary power and discretion to the Selection Committee to lay down its own procedures.

The two-judge bench of the High Court upheld the petitioner’s argument and directed the Central Government to frame new rules within four weeks to deal with the vacancies in consumer commissions.

However, later, the court suspended this decision for two weeks After Assistant Solicitor General sought a stay on the judgment. The court, however, prohibited the State from making any more appointments under the said rules.

The High Court also noted that the said Rules were an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court's directions provided in Madras Bar Association cases where it had held that advocates with a minimum 10 years of experience could be considered for appointment to Tribunals as members. Further, the High Court observed that the Supreme Court had already issued directions in its judgment in State of Uttar Pradesh and others v. All Uttar Pradesh Consumer Protection Bar Association, 2017, for bringing uniformity of rules across the country in regard to the modalities to be followed in appointment and selections of President and Members of the District and the State Forums. As such, any rules made by the Government or the legislature must adhere to the directions of the Supreme Court.

Tags : Appointment Prior experience

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