Sindh Consumers await the promised Consumer Protection Act since 2014


Promise:

Sindh assembly ever first passed law “The Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2014” to establish consumer courts in all districts of Sindh on 20th February 2015. Government of Sindh pledged in the draft of bill that after formal assent by governor of Sindh, the act would be enforced at once throughout the province. Around two years and nine months later, the act has yet to be implemented in Province.

Background:

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) rules Sindh but has failed to implement the law, “The Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2014”. According to the law, consumer courts will be established in the province of Sindh. During the session of parliament, Dr. Sikander Ali Mendhro, then minister for law and parliamentary affairs, promised this before legislature assembly of Sindh on 20th February 2015.

Nobody knows when the courts will be established in all districts, because government of Sindh has failed to enforce the “The Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2014” so far.

According to draft of law, after the formal assent of the governor, the act will be enforced at once in the whole province; it has been mentioned at the top of the draft, which was passed by the assembly. Dr. Ishrat-Ul-Ebad then the governor of Sindh assented the law on 16 March 2015 while bill was passed by assembly on 20 February, 2015. Despite this, the law is yet to be enforced even after the passage of two years and nine months; the government has not been able to establish consumer courts to provide relief to consumers in the province.

Sharmila Farooque, a member of provincial legislative assembly of Sindh belonging to the ruling party PPP, presented the bill “The Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2014” before the assembly to establish the consumer courts in all district of province during 2013. After long discussion in the standing committee and the provincial assembly, it was passed unanimously in 2015 amid vows to enforce at once after formal assent by governor.

Farooque said while talking to Truth Tracker, it is the duty of the government to respect every move and act of the assembly. She believed that a failure to enforce the law is failure of bureaucracy who has to enforce the act. These have vested interests against the law, she added. Point will be raised again regarding the establishment of consumer courts in the assembly, she promised.

She said that in the absence of the law, consumers have no platform to complain against illegal practice in that connection. This law provides opportunity to consumers if a businessman or person, in commerce or trade, makes any statement wrongly, one should be punished or fined.

According to the law, the provincial government is bound to set up consumer protection councils in the province and in all districts which shall, report to the Provincial Consumer Protection Council.

The objectives of the law is protecting and promoting the rights and interests of consumers and speedy redress of consumers’ complaints. Under this law, consumer courts were established in each district to exercise jurisdiction and powers of the act. The act empowered the consumer to file complaint within 30 days and the court on receipt of claim had to summon the defendants, directing them to file written statements within a period of fifteen days.

Muhammad Umar Farooq, secretary Sindh assembly told Truth Tracker that all legal formalities have been completed and sent to the concerned authorities. If any honorable member of assembly will raise the issue it will be dealt with accordingly but nobody has raised the issue yet in assembly, he added.

Muhammad Tariq Mansoor, a lawyer by profession, social and human rights activist filed petition in apex court of the province, Sindh High Court, in person as a citizen versus provincial government.

He prayed the apex court in his petition that the authorities are disrespecting the provincial assembly by ignoring the implementation of the law, The Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2014. Petitioner advocate Muhammad Tariq Mansoor said that law was passed in 2015, which is effective from 16 March 2015.

In the absence of the said consumer courts, around 50 million people of the province are deprived from exercising their legitimate rights on daily basis which infringement of their fundamental rights. The authorities practically put on hold unlawfully due to the non-establishment of the “Provincial consumer protection councils, laboratory and consumer courts as well, said petitioner.

Tariq said authorities are playing delay tactics, without lawful sufficient cause, which is a violation of the constitution of Islamic republic of Pakistan. The petitioner also claimed the damages of rupees 43 billion, approximately, of compensation in lieu of infringement of the fundamental rights for each citizen of province following the principles of natural justice and fair play.

In response to Truth tracker Minister for law and parliamentary affairs Zia Hassan Lanjar, said the government is taking steps to implement the law. “The Sindh government has drafted rules and will soon establish the courts, Lanjar said. “The consumer courts will be established at the offices of deputy commissioners with judicial magistrates in chair,” he added.

Independent Opinion

A political commentator Imtiaz Khan Faran said that implementation of law is sole responsibility of the chief executive of the province and speaker of the assembly who is custodian of parliament. This failure proved that they have loose grip the over provincial authority, he said.

The bureaucracy is playing its role in governance and ultimately it is the responsibility of one who leads the government, that is the chief minister of the province, stated Imtiaz. He said that there is a strong nexus between those who are beneficiaries of the absence of law and those who hinder the implementation of the law.

Ruling

Government of Sindh led by Pakistan People’s Party has not exerted enough efforts to implement The Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2014 in province. No concrete reason was given for the failure to implement the law. So the promise stands compromised.

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