LAHORE - Consumer protection courts of Punjab are still stuck up in dilemma of definition of a consumer due to conceptual difference between buying services and goods whereof big firms and financial institutions, in case of complaint against them, are getting undue vantage. According to court sources, the companies and firms say their clients are not consumers so consumer courts have no powers to pass decree against them. They file appeal in LHC and prolong the litigation. The consumer courts are working under administrative control of secretary industries and regular status of courts has not been awarded to the courts about hearing the complaints of the consumers who are being fleeced by manufactures of sub standards goods, products, official sources revealed. Until the consumers act is amended the desired results cannot be achieved from the consumer courts and miseries of consumers will come to an end, Assistant Director legal Consumer Court Lahore told The Nation, however highlighting significance of such like forum in a society like ours. However, The Nation learnt that the complaint/claim disposal ratio is quite robust and satisfying in the 11 consumers courts of Punjab set up under consumer protection Act 2005. Small manufactures and shopkeepers pay damages to consumers in the consumer courts after decree against them or at the initial stage of reconciliation, a chance given by the courts to settle the matter. However, big firms manage to escape paying damages to the aggrieved parties and tend to prolong the litigation in appeal to the benefit of the companies, Assistant Director legal Consumer Court Lahore Ch Awais said. Major financial bodies like banks and insurance companies take the plea that they are governed by federal statute and the consumer courts being provincial authority, have no jurisdiction and powers to start proceedings against them on the complaints of their clients, official sources revealed. The Consumer Protection Court is hearing complaints pouring in from four districts falling under its jurisdiction, being divisional level consumer court. The court has issued decree in a total of 1,007 complaints, claims filed for damages starting from March 2007 of the consumers belonging to district Lahore, Kasur, Sheikhupura and Nankana Shahib. The consumer courts have to dispose of a complaint in a period of maximum 6 months as per the consumer law. In 2007 Lahore consumer court passed decree in 83 complaints, 399 claims in 2008, and 525 cases in 2009 till present. Appeals in LHC against decrees of consumer court were filed include 3 complaint in 2007, 25 cases in 2008 and 14 in 2009, mostly by big companies and banks. The appeals are still pending in LHC. Damages are being paid on the courts orders to consumers in the complaint against defect in the new cars, motorcycles, electronics products like TV, Freezer, Oven, washing machine, shoe, restaurant food, mobile phone sets, clothes, defective stitching by tailors and other such cases where product was found defective. Besides consumers courts consumers can file a compliant with the office of DCO by an application on simple paper and DCO being chairman of the consumer council, has powers to impose up to Rs50,000. DCO can refer a complaint to the consumer court if he likes. Good thing about the consumer courts is that consumers do not have to pay court fee or charges and all cost is to be borne by respondent parties. In the cases wherein the aggrieved parties, consumers file complaints or claims for damages against the manufacturers and product sellers, getting relief is easy while in case of complaints against defective services it is hard to prove the case under consumer act. The consumer courts are less in number and courts should be established in each district level as people find it hard to come from other districts to file complaint in Lahore. Yet 50 percent people have awareness about consumer courts or procedure of filing complaint or claims in the consumer court. They said, reconciliation is done in the court as D& Session judge Consumer Court, Ejaz Ahmed Butter, gives a chance for reconciliation to all parties and mostly respondent party manufactures and sellers agree to pay damages to the consumers. The problem is it is hard to prove who is a consumer because the law is not comprehensive and it should be amended to enhance its scope and jurisdiction, they said.