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    BlogConsumer GuideConsumer Protection Act : Everything You Need to Know

    Consumer Protection Act : Everything You Need to Know

    Consumer Protection Act – A Boon Or Bane?

    Consumer Protection Act is welfare legislation enacted by the Government of India to authorize the consumers of various goods and services against capricious practices of retailers. It aims to provide rights and benefits to consumers of good faith and provides them with proper machinery for redressal of their grievances. In order to supply for better protection of the interests of the buyer Protection Bill, 1986 was introduced within the Lok Sabha on 5th December 1986.

    Consumer Under CPA

    The law for the first time introduced the concept of ‘consumer’ and gave him some revelation rights. It is interesting to note that the Act does not seek to protect every consumer within the true meaning of the term. Protection is for a person who complies with the definition of ‘consumer’ provided by the Act. In India, the consumer movement as a ‘social force’ arose with the need of protecting and promoting the consumer’s interest against immoral and unfair trade practices.

    The widespread shortage of food, the accumulation, black marketing, the mixing of food and edible oil gave birth to an organized consumer movement in the 1960s. Until the 1970s, consumer organizations were heavily involved in writing and exhibitions. They set up consumer groups to check for food shortages and traffic congestion. Recently, India has seen a rise in the number of consumer groups. Consumer association arose as a result of consumer dissatisfaction as many of the unethical practices were sold by retailers. There was no legal system accessible to consumers to protect them from market exploitation.

    History of Legislation

    When a consumer was dissatisfied with a particular product in a store, he or she would refrain from buying the product, or stop buying it from that store. It was the notion that it was the job of consumers to be careful when buying goods or services. It has taken many years for organizations in India, and around the world, to make people aware of awareness. As a result of all these efforts, the organization succeeded in putting pressure on corporate and government institutions to address business ethics that may be inappropriate and conflict with the interests of consumers as a whole. The most important step in 1986 was taken by the Indian government was the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act 1986.

    Role of Voluntary Consumer Organization

    The work of a consumer protection organization should be well aware of various laws and not only the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. One must know the principles concerning Contract, Tort, Railways, Telegraphs, Telephones, Post, aviation, Insurance, Electricity, Water, Housing, Medical, Banking, Finance, Engineering, Automotive, Hotel Industry, Entertainment, Cooperatives, Travel Agencies, Taxes Sales, Medium Tax, Limit, Transportation, etc. Consumer Forum / Judicial Commission. In addition, one should also be well aware of the laws relating to unfair labor practices and prohibiting trade practices. Either way. In India, a variety of laws are enacted to protect consumers from various forms of exploitation.

    In the meantime when one comes to this world, he starts consuming. He needs clothes, milk, oil, soap, water, and many other things and these needs always take one form or another for the rest of his life. So we are all consumers in the true sense of the word. When we go to the market as a consumer, we expect value for money, that is, the right quality, the right price, the right price, information about how to use it, etc. But there could also be cases where the buyer is harassed or deceived.

    Other Legislations

    The government has recognized the need to protect consumers from dishonest suppliers, and many laws have been enacted for this reason. We have Indian Contract Law, Commercial Law, Dangerous Drugs Act, Agricultural Production Act, Indian Standards Institution, Food Separation Prohibition Act, Standards of Weights and Measure Act, etc. which one way or another protects the interests of consumers. However, these rules require the consumer to commence an action in the form of cases involving a lengthy and expensive, and time-consuming legal process.

    Consumer Rights

    Consumer rights are the rights granted to the “consumer” to protect him or her from being deceived by the seller/manufacturer. Consumer protection laws are intended to make sure fair trade rivalry and the free movement of factual information in the markets.

    Laws are intended to prevent businesses that engage in fraudulent or unscrupulous profit-making practices from competitors and may provide additional protection for the weak section. Consumer Protection Laws are a form of government law that aims to guard the rights of consumers.

    A consumer is defined as a person who acquires goods or services for direct or proprietary purposes rather than reselling them or using them in production and manufacturing. Consumer welfare can also be protected by promoting competition in markets that provide consumers directly and indirectly, in line with economic efficiency, but this topic is governed by the Competition Act.

    Historical Background of Consumer Rights

    The history of consumer rights protection by law has been honored since 1824. Every year 15 March is considered International Consumer Rights Day. On that day in 1962, U.S. President John F. Kennedy urged the US Congress to approve the Consumer Rights Bill which are as follow-

    (a) the right to choice

    (b) the right to information

    (c) Right to safety and

    (d) Right to be heard

    Adding Consumer Rights

    President Gerald R. Ford added one more right which means the right to consumer education. Other rights such as the right to a healthy environment and the right to basic needs (Food, Shelter, and Clothing) were supplementary. In India, we have now started celebrating 24 December every year as National Consumer Rights Day. In the history of consumer policy development, April 9, 1985, was the most significant day on which the General Assembly adopted a general set of guidelines for consumer protection and the Secretary-General of the United Nations was authorized to recommend member states to adopt these guidelines through changes in policy or legislation. These guidelines formulate an ample policy framework that frame what governments need to do to promote consumer protection in the following seven areas:

    a- Physical safety;

    b- Consumer Protection and Promotion of Consumer Economy interest;

    c- Consumer safety standards and quality of commodity also services;

    d- Consumer distribution facilities and services;

    e- Steps that enable consumers to get redressal;

    f- measures concerning specific areas (food, water, and medicine)

    g- the program for consumer education and knowledge.

    Who may be a ‘Consumer’?

    Section 2 (d) of the Consumer Protection Act states that a consumer means a person 

    (i) purchases any goods for a consideration which has been or underpaid, or under any credit plan, and includes any user of these goods aside from the purchaser with the consideration or partial payment or partial payment, or under any credit system during which such use is formed with the authorization of that person, but doesn’t include the one that acquires the products for resale or any commercial purpose; or

    (ii) employs or obtains any services for paid or promised or under-paid and under-paid consideration, or under any credit plan, and includes any beneficiary of these services aside from the hiring or user of paid or promised consideration services, or purchased. with little or no promise, under any postponed payment system, where such services are obtained with the approval of the primary person in question;

    Therefore, you’re a consumer, if you’ve purchased anything for self-consumption, and not hired or purchased for selling it further or to be deployed in business activity on an outsized scale, as was held in Laxmi Engineering Works v. P.S.G. Industrial Institute(1995).

    Objectives

    The main purpose of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is to guard consumers against exploitation and harm.

    • Preventing practices that negatively affect competition
    • Promoting and maintaining market competition
    • To protect consumer interests also 
    • To make sure freedom of trade carried on by other participants within the markets

    Rights of Consumers

    • Right to safety- hazardous goods and services.
    • Right to be told – about the number, quality, purity, potency, standard, and price of products.
    • Right to settle on – access to sort of goods and services at a competitive price.
    • Right to be heard- due consideration at appropriate forums.
    • Right to hunt redressal – right to hunt redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.
    • Right to consumer education – the right to accumulate the knowledge and skill to be an informed consumer throughout life.

    Complainant

    Under Consumer Protection Act, 1986 a complainant can be:

    · Any consumer;

    · Voluntary consumer organization

    · Central Government or State Government;

    · One or quite one consumer, where there are many consumers

    · In cases of death of a consumer, his heir, or personal representative.

    The complainant can file a case with the assistance of a consumer protection lawyer if his rights are violated.

    Complaint Defined

    A complaint is defined as any written grievance, made by the complainant about getting relief given within the case of unfair trade, disability, lack of service, excessive prices for goods and services, sale of dangerous goods. Complaint will be filed under 35 & 36 Consumer Protection Act.

    Filing a complaint

    The Consumer Protection Act provides for an easy and easy application process for a consumer. The grievance procedure doesn’t require the appointment of a lawyer and may be done on your own or without legal knowledge.

    The complaint must be filed within 3 months of purchase and if some testing of products is required then within months.

    Where the complaints are often filed?

    District Forum– the worth of products and compensation claim doesn’t exceed Rs. 20 lakhs

    State Commission – the worth of products or compensation is quite 20 lakhs but doesn’t exceed 1 crore.

    National Commission – it takes up all cases exceeding the worth of Rs. 1 crore.

    Consumer Protection Councils

    Central Consumer Protection Council

    The Consumer Protection Act empowers the Central Government to determine a Central Consumer Protection Council. It consists of the chairman and a variety of legal officers and non-official members. The chairman of the council is that the minister responsible for the central government. Under the Consumer Protection Council Act of 1987, membership of the Council is restricted to 150 members. 150 such members include the Chief Minister responsible for consumer affairs as Chairperson. The tenure of the Council is three years. The Council will meet a minimum of formerly a year.

    State Consumer Protection Council

    The Consumer Protection Act gives the government the facility to determine a State Consumer Protection Council. It consists of the chairperson and therefore the number of official and non-official officers and ten nominated members of the Central Government. The chairperson of the council is that the Minister responsible for the government. The State Council shall meet a minimum of once a year.

    District Consumer Protection Council

    In order to market and protect consumer rights, within the district, the Consumer Protection Act, provides for the organization of a neighborhood Consumer Protection Council altogether regions. It shall include the Chairman and a variety of other official officials and non-official members in lieu of these consumer interests. It should meet a minimum of once a year. The Chairperson shall determine the time and place of the meeting.

    District Forum

    • Each District Forum shall contain an individual who is or has been or is qualified to be District Judge who shall be its President two other members, one among whom shall be a lady possessing a bachelor’s degree.
    • Every member of the District Forum shall hold office for a term of 5 years or up to the age of 65 years whichever is earlier
    • .District Forum shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the worth of products and compensation claim doesn’t exceed Rs. 20 lakhs.

    State Commission

    • A Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission is to be referred to as the “State Commission” established by the government within the State.
    • A person who is or has been a Judge of a supreme court appointed by the government, who shall be its President.
    • State Commission shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods or compensation is more than 20 lakhs but does not exceed 1 crore.

    National Commission

    • The ‘ National Commission’ shall contain an individual who is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court, shall be its President. Not less than 4 and not more than such number of members as may be prescribed and one of whom shall be a woman possessing a bachelor’s degree.
    • Every member of the National Commission shall hold office for a term of 5 years or up to the age of 70 years whichever is earlier.
    • The National Commission shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods or compensation cases exceed the value of Rs. 1 crore.

    Powers of Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies

    If, after the proceedings, the Tribunal is satisfied that the complainant is suffering from any damage or shortage of employment, he or she may issue an order to the opposing party directing him or her to do one or more of the following, namely:

    1. To remove the defect

    2. To replace the goods with new goods of similar description

    3. To pay back the complainant the price

    4. To pay such amount as may be compensated to the consumer for any loss or damage incurred by the consumer as a result of the carelessness of the opposing party

    5. To remove the defects or deficiencies in the services in question;

    6. Abandoning unfair trading practices

    7. Not to offer dangerous goods for sale

    8. Withdrawal of hazardous goods from sale

    9. To provide adequate costs to the complainant

    Appeal

    Appeals against-
    • District Forum – within 30 days- in State Commission
    • State Commission – within 30 days- in National Commission
    • National Commission – within 30 days- in Supreme Court

    There are no fee filing appeals in the State and National Commissions.

    Penalties for non-compliance

    All orders made by the District Forum or the State Commission, or the National Commission may be imposed in the same way as a court order. If any such person fails or fails to comply with such an order, the District Forum, or the State Commission, or the National Commission, as the case may be, may punish him–

    – Imprisonment for between one month to three years, or

    – With fines ranging between Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 10,000, or with both

    Case Laws

    Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat Vs. Mis Megnna Metals and Ano rs l {1994) C.P.J. 113

    In this case, the complainant bought one pressure cooker from the opposite party. Despite the Special Gasket Release System for Safety the cooker burst which caused impairment to the right hand of the complainant’s wife. The opposite party was held accountable to pay compensation of Rs. I lac plus the medical bills although the wife was the user of goods and not the buyer, she used the goods with the consent of the buyer.

    Motor Sales and Service Vs. Renji Sabastian, 1991 CPR 158

    In this case, the complainant had pre-booked a motorcycle for consideration but the delivery was postponed so, the court directed a compensation of Rs. 500 along with the delivery of the bike.

    Chief Commercial Officer, Indian Airlines Vs. P. Lalchand III (1995) C.P.J. 134

    In this case, the complainant bought the ticket from Indian Airlines. The time of departure was given at 10:45 a.m., but the plane left at 9:20 a.m., and the complainant, who reached the airport at 9:45 a.m. missed the flight. The District Forum held the other party at the fault of deficiency in commission.

    N.R Nair Vs. Branch Manager, State Bank of India 1991

    In this case, the bank draft was rejected as it did not bear the signatures of two officials of the issuing bank. The Consumer Forum was held accountable because of a deficiency in service.

    The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (NEW ACT)

    The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, came into effect on Monday when the government announced the rules it would apply. The government has introduced laws to establish the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), Central Consumer Protection Council, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, mediation, product debt, and misleading advertisements, among others, under the Act.

    Parliament approved the ‘Consumer Protection Bill of 2019’ last year, replacing the 1986 Act. The law aims to revitalize the process of handling and resolving consumer disputes, with stricter penalties, including jail time for adultery and advertisements misleading firms.

    CPA 2019 aims to reinforce consumer interests and establish a timely and effective regulatory governing body for resolving consumer disputes. CPA 2019 is set to provide a powerful way to address grievances to protect and enforce consumer rights. Recalling the rapidly changing new economy, e-commerce platforms are now directly included in CPA 2019.

    Features of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019

    File a complaint from anywhere

    The new law empowers consumers to lodge complaints electronically and to lodge complaints in consumer commissions with jurisdiction over the area in which they live instead of the previous practice of filing a complaint where the consumer has his or her registered office.

    There is no charge for up to Rs 5 lakh:

    According to the rules of the Consumer Dispute Resolution Commission, there will be no charge of up to Rs 5 lakh.

    Appear for the hearing via video conferencing

    Plaintiffs can attend the trial by video conference, according to the new law

    Claim compensation under product liability:

    This new law includes a product service provider, product manufacture, and product retailer, for any compensation claim.

    Punishment for the sale of counterfeit goods:

    The new law provides for punishment by a competent court for the manufacture or sale of adulterous goods. The court may, in the case of a conviction, suspend any license granted to that person for a period of up to two years, and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, it may revoke the license

    The Act empowers State and District Commissions to review orders:

    Under the new law, State and District commissions may review orders passed by consumer commissions.

    Mediation under consumer commissions:

    The complaint will be referred by the Consumer Commission for mediation, wherever possible to be resolved early and the parties agree to it. These interventions will be held at Mediation Cells, which must be established under the auspices of the Consumer Commissions Commission.

    The government will establish a 35-member Consumer Protection Council:

    The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, provides for the establishment of the Consumer Protection Council as an advisory body to consumer affairs. It will be headed by the Minister of Consumer Unity and the Minister of State as Deputy Chairperson and 34 other members from various sectors.

    The Council, for three years, will be the Minister for Consumer Affairs in two provinces from each region – North, South, East, West, and North-East.

    Compulsory e-tailers to display refunds, exchanges, warranty details:

    Under e-commerce rules, commerce platforms are required to display price information, expiration date, return, exchange, refund, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipping, payment methods, grievance redressal, payment method security, payment method, etc. In addition, retailers should also indicate a ‘country of origin’ that will facilitate the consumer to make an informed decision before purchasing.

    Benefits for Consumers under the Act

    1. Consumers are secured from the marketing of harmful goods and services.

    2. Consumer independence in the selection of goods is ensured.

    3. Consumers are at liberty to get easy, instant, and low-priced benefits under this provision.

    4. Redressal mechanism is readily accessible to consumers.

    5. The authorities under this Act have been made responsible for securing certain rights. They have the right to choose, the right to safety, the right to sound, and the right to learn about consumers. 

    6. Penalties under this provision assist to focus on the matter of unfair trade practices in India.

    7. The act puts forward the provision of product liability. If the product has an issue, the service provider must pay the customer. The manufacturer or service provider must compensate the consumer if the goods/services cause injury to the consumer. This may be due to an inappropriate production feature or service. This permits compensation to the injured buyer.

    Things to Remember

    • Always ask for the Cash Memo.
    • Always take a look for the ‘ BEST BEFORE’ or ‘EXPIRY DATE’ when buying goods or medical products.
    • Always pay attention to the STANDARD MARKS like FPO, ISI, AGMARK, etc.
    •  Do not pay more than MRP.
    •  Always stand for YOUR RIGHTS.

    Conclusion

    Consumer Protection Act is the foremost important socio-economic legislation for the protection of consumers. It is beneficial for the consumer in every way. The provisions of this act are compensatory, unlike other laws which are either punitive or preventive. Rules and legislation are essential to regulate trade practices as well as to protect consumers from the fraud of business. In early times, the doctrine of ‘Caveat Emptor’ ( let the buyer beware) was behind the idea of sales. But according to the present scenario, the idea of ‘Caveat Emptor’ has been changed by the maxim ‘Caveat Venditor’( let the seller beware). The growing reliance on the global economy and the international nature of many business processes has contributed to the development of a universal emphasis on consumer protection and development. Consumers, clients, and customers around the world want a fair amount of quality goods and better services. Modern technological advancement has undoubtedly had a profound effect on the quality, availability, and security of goods and services. The consumer is independent ‘and the customer is king ‘are just myths in the current situation especially in the developing world. At present, only legislations are not important with that organized effort is also needed from the consumer to curb this menace. The market is always dominated by the sellers and their attitude towards consumers as a weaker section. An effective and efficient Consumer Protection program is very important for all of us because we are all consumers. The need for an hour is a complete commitment to the cause of consumers and social response to the needs of consumers. However, this must continue uniformly so that our society can be a better place for all of us to live. Educate consumers to develop an understanding of their responsibilities as consumers. The consumer should plan together to develop the potential and impact of developing and protecting their interests. Its purpose should be to provide quick, easy, and cheap aids to traumatized consumers as well as the relief of certain types and compensation whatever is appropriate for the consumer. The government should make and enforce extremely strict penalties so that manufacturers and shopkeepers think carefully before resorting to fraud. The redressal process should be made more sensible, easy enough to be understood by a large number of consumers.

    Disclaimer: The opinions and views in the articles and research papers published on this website; are personal and independent opinions of the author. The website is not responsible for them.


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