The Supreme Court in the case of The Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs versus Dr Mahindra Bhaskar Limaye and others held that persons having a Bachelor’s degree and having a professional experience of at least 10 years in consumer affairs, law, public affairs, administration etc. should be treated as qualified for appointment as President and members of State Consumer Commissions and District Consumer Forums and the decision of Bombay High Court which quashed the provisions of Consumer Protection Rules, 2020, framed by Central Government u/s 101 of Consumer Protection Act 2019, provisions which prescribe a minimum professional experience of 20 years and 15 years for adjudicating members to the State consumer commissions and District forums respectively and which did away with the requirement of a written exam for appointment.
Exercising power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the bench said that: “Till the amendments are made in order to do complete justice under Art. 142 we direct that in future a person having a Bachelor’s degree from a recognised university and who is a person of ability, integrity standing and having special knowledge and professional experience of not less than 10 years in consumer affairs, law, public affairs, administration etc. shall be treated as qualified for appointment as President and member of State and District Commission. We also direct that for an appointment the appointment shall be based on the performance in 2 papers. Qualifying marks in the papers shall be 50% and there must be a viva for 50 marks each.”With respect to the requirement of written test, the Bench observed: “The Commissions are quasi-judicial authorities and the standards expected from the Tribunal should be as nearly as possible to the appointment of Judges…There is a need to assess the skill, and competency of the candidates before they are empanelled. The Rule 2020 does not contemplate written examinations to assess the merits of candidates.”
The Bench further directed the Central and State Governments to make the following amendments to the 2020 Rule: “The concerned Governments have to amend 2020 Rules more particularly R. 6(9). The appointment to be made on the basis of the performance in the written test of 2 papers for 100 marks each and 50 marks for viva. They are also to come with an amendment to provide 10 years experience to become eligible to be president and members of State and District Commission instead of 20 and 15 years respectively.” In light of this, the Court observed that the Rules were an attempt to circumvent Supreme Court’s directions.