Nepal’s first consumer court expected soonNepal is likely to get its first consumer court to deal with cases related to consumer disputes and grievances after more than a decade in the works.
Nepal is likely to get its first consumer court to deal with cases related to consumer disputes and grievances after more than a decade in the works.
The Consumer Protection Bill 2018 tabled in Parliament recently has proposed constituting a consumer court to promptly deal with rampant anomalies in the market. Currently, consumer disputes and grievances are filed at the district court.
Parliamentarians began discussions on the bill on Wednesday.
The need for a consumer court has long been felt to protect consumers from illegal practices such as sale of substandard and adulterated goods and black marketing. The government has been considering setting up a separate court for almost been a decade.
A consumer survey conducted by the Department of Supplies Management in 2011 showed that 53.57 percent of Nepali consumers were not satisfied with the government’s work on ensuring consumer rights. A majority of the people questioned said that consumer courts should be established in major cities to provide justice to consumers in time.
The bill has envisioned forming a consumer court under the judge of the district court that will include two government officials as members.
During Wednesday’s discussions, parliamentarians stressed the need to effectively implement consumer protection laws. “Although consumer protection laws contain some stern measures, they have not been effective due to poor implementation,” they said.
Lawmaker Krishna Bhakta Pokharel said the compensation amount to be provided to aggrieved consumers should be properly stated in the new act. Lawmaker Pushpa Bhusal said that experts should be appointed to the consumer court instead of government officials. Likewise, parliamentary member Ram Bahadur Bista said that it should be made mandatory for perishable goods to undergo lab tests before being shipped to market.
The bill has also proposed authorising monitoring officers to impose an on-the-spot fine of up to Rs300,000 against offenders. Similarly, the law has proposed to empower the director general of the Department of Supplies Management to hand out prison terms of up to one year to dishonest traders.
The money collected in fines by the consumer court and the department will be deposited in a reserve fund of the federal government.
If goods sold in the market are found to ne harmful to human health, the concerned firm will have to recall and destroy them. In such cases, consumers are entitled to receive compensation. The new law is also considering making it an offence to publish misleading advertisements and making firms put proper food labels listing the ingredients.