Hiring and retiring stuck at consumer body as confusion reigns over selection rules

Between the consumer affairs ministry and the SC, the frequent rule changes in tenure and retirement age have left members and aspirants puzzled.

New Delhi: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) is undergoing a phase of uncertainty with confusion over the tenure of its current members and the hiring criteria for new ones.

Last year, the consumer affairs ministry issued two advertisements within two weeks laying down different criteria for job applications to seven posts — one with original rules, the second with revised rules. Then the Supreme Court stepped in five months later and restored status quo.

In the ensuing confusion, the consumer body and its members have been left in the lurch.

The confusion

On 19 July last year, the ministry advertised for seven posts of members – four judicial and three non-judicial. The tenure was to be of five years or till the age of 70, whichever is earlier.

A couple of weeks later, it issued another advertisement, saying the members would now be appointed for a three-year term or till they attained the age of 67 years, whichever is earlier. This change was effected due to the amendments in the rules brought by The Finance Act, 2017.

On 9 February this year, the apex court again ordered a reversal of rules while hearing the Kudrat Sandhu versus Union of India case.

As a result of this confusion, justice D.K. Jain, the NCDRC chairman, who should have retired in January on account of turning 70 still retains his post.

The terms of almost all NCDRC members – judicial as well as non-judicial – too have ended. But all of them continue in their posts, on an interim basis, till further orders.

Hiring on ‘hold’

The government is yet to put out an advertisement with the new rules — retirement age 70 or tenure of five years — resulting in few applications. So, hiring of new members is stuck.

The manner in which the selection committee has gone about doing its job is another bone of contention. At least two former high court judges who had applied told ThePrint that they had not been called for any interview.

“We don’t know when the new will members join. There is actually a possibility that one day we will be in office and the next day we may be out. Is this how a quasi-judicial body should function?” asked a member, who didn’t wish to be identified.

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