Several cases before the Consumer Court have not been decided six months after the suits were instituted as prescribed in Punjab Consumer Protection Act, 2005.
At least 756 cases are currently pending before the court. Some have not been decided for over two years. According to Section 23 (5) of the aforementioned Act, the consumer court should decide a claim within six months after a summons has been issued.
The Lahore court has been hearing an average of 108 cases a month. Only 20 to 30 of these cases are decided within the stipulated time.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, several litigants expressed disappointment with the performance of the court. “I spend all my day at the court. My business is suffering,” said Hakim Rehman, adding that many consumers kept attending court only to be turned away as their hearing was delayed. “Many of us come here from remote areas. We cannot afford to keep making the trip without any results,” said Shahram Zakir. “These aren’t murder trials where it may be justified for the court to take so long,” he said.
Consumer Court registrar Asif Nazeer Ahmed said that the court was required to decide cases within six months but added that it was overburdened with the case load. “It simply can’t be done. The only one in Lahore now has over 700 cases to deal with,” he said. “We need to increase the number of courts to deal with the growing case load,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.