Sometime in early October there was a debate in this Forum on the same subject.
Finally it deteriorated into a school debate with no purpose or seriousness. Now the subject has come up again in the newspapers in connection with a specific case the Maharashtra State Consumer Commission gave orders to the concerned Forum to transact business in Marathi only. Last time I mentioned that the Rule and the Order were ultra vires the provisions in the Constitution of India. No one appeared to be interested in the subject and thereafter the thread closed automatically.
The State Commissions order has been issued under Rule.6 of the Maharashtra Consumer Protection Rules, 2000. The Rule is reproduced below:
6. Procedure of the District Forum – 1 The language of the District Forum shall be Marathi.
Explanation: - For the purpose of this sub-rule language includes language of hearings and orders.
The above Rule does not say that the language of the Fora shall be Marathi only. It was in cold storage for more than 10years. Suddenly it has surfaced.
One can interpret that "the language shall ordinarily be Marathi" with no bar on the use of other languages. But if it is interpreted as Marathi only it will be in conflict with the provision under Article 350 which says:
“Article 350: Every person shall be entitled to submit a representation for the redress of any grievance to any officer or authority of the Union or a State in any of the languages used in the Union or in the State, as the case may be."
According to me the order of the State Commission is ultra vires Article:350 of the Constitution.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted to give relief to the common man in a simple manner. One can argue oneself before the Consumer Courts without having to spend on fees of a lawyer. In cases for small amounts one cannot afford to engage a lawyer or an expert translator. By the order of the State Commission lakhs of small consumers are denied justice. Hence I feel the order should be contested in a court of law as a Public Interest litigation. But in which court to contest?
One can appeal to the State Commission itself to rescind its order. But if the State Commission dismisses the appeal, one cannot go to the High Court as High Courts have no jurisdiction over Consumer Courts. Probably one has to appeal to the National Commission. If the National Commission also does not give a favourable verdict one has to approach the Supreme Court. The National Commission and Supreme Court are in Delhi and it is difficult to contest from Mumbai. I feel there may be Delhi based Supreme Court Advocates as members of the Forum, who would agree with my views. I would request them to take up this case in Public Interest i. e. in the interest of lakhs of consumers to whom injustice has been done by the order.
It is my opinion that debates in the Forum should not merely be academic, but should result in concrete action. Particularly cutting jokes at each other should be avoided.
Let not Marathi speaking members feel that this is against them. I have taken pains to learn Marathi and I have first class Diploma in Marathi from Mumbai University.
My only contention is that nothing should be done especially by courts which will do injustice to a large number of people and National unity is paramount.