Role of Consumer Protection Act in Protection of Consumer Rights
By Shweta Nair
Without consumers, there can be no company or business and without business or company, there can be no consumers. Consumers are one of the important factors responsible in the development of the economy of any country whereby they demand goods or services in consideration of the price paid and in return expect quality goods and efficient services from the sellers. When consumers demand such goods of high quality, it simultaneously puts pressure on the sellers to provide quality goods and services so that their business may bloom and in turn it helps develop and strengthen the country’s economy as it leads to overall increase in the standard of products or services and thereby benefiting the manufacturing and service provider sector of industry.
Nowadays, everything being online and just a click away, chances of consumers suffering due to defective or faulty goods or services has been on the rise. There are numerous cases where consumers get cheated and they suffer due to the loss. Their hard-earned money is lost and many times they feel hesitant of complaining such things due to the lengthy procedures involved. One such report which came recently was about a man who purchased I-phone from e-shopping website and got a brick delivered nicely packed in the box. Such cases are not only restricted to shopping or buying of goods or hiring services but it also includes air line or any other kind of transport services and education services. Several other forms of exploitation which consumers suffer include adulteration of food, spurious drugs, deceptive advertisements, hazardous products, black marketing, hoarding, rampant food shortage etc.
Thus, consumer movement arose mainly due to the unscrupulous exploitation and discontentment among consumers due to sellers getting indulged in unfair trade practices. Therefore, in the year 1986, Parliament passed the Consumer Protection Act which seeks to provide speedy and effective dispute resolution mechanism in order to protect consumer interest. Later, this act was amended and Consumer Protection Act of 2019 was passed which came into force and replaced the earlier act of 1986.
Under the act of 2019, a consumer is defined as a person who buys goods or avails of services for consideration and does not include a person who purchases goods for sale or avails of services or goods for commercial purpose that is in order to generate profit.
In order to protect and safeguard consumer’s interests, there are various rights which are available to the consumers under the Consumer Protection Act:
Right to be informed- Right to be informed about the quantity, potency, quality, purity, price of goods and standard of goods so as to protect the consumers against unfair trade practices.
Right to safety- Right to be protected against marketing of goods and services hazardous to life and property.
Right to be heard- Right to be represented in forums where consumers welfare and interest would receive due consideration.
Right to choose- Right to be assured of access to variety of goods and services at competitive prices.
Right to Consumer Education- right to acquire knowledge and skill in order to be an aware and informed consumer throughout life.
Right to seek redressal- Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices and unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.
For a strong redressal system, Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies have been set up like the District Commission, State Commission and the National Commission. The District Commission will entertain complaints relating to goods and services whose value does not exceed Rs.1 Crore. Whereas for State Commission, the value of the goods and services should be more than Rs.1 Crore but should not exceed Rs.10 Crore. And for National Commission, the value for goods and services should be over Rs.10 Crores for it to entertain complaints in its jurisdiction.
There will also be a Central Consumer Protection Authority established by the Central Government for protecting, promoting and enforcing the consumer rights.
In case of an appeal against District Commission, the appeal is to be filed to the State Commission. And against the State Commission to the National Commission and against the order of the National Commission to the Supreme Court of India.
Consumer interests are very important to be protected and safeguarded not only for remedying the loss or injustice suffered but also for the growth of the economy. To achieve this, active involvement is needed from the central and state government, non profit organizations, public and media. Consumers need to be made aware of their rights so that they can perform their duties and responsibilities as a citizen and never to suffer injustice silently as it is also injustice against the society and for this, several campaigns need to be organized in rural as well as urban areas so that no consumer is ever taken advantage of and is thoroughly educated about consumer rights.