Since globalization is now reality, the question is how to make it more effective in satisfying the needs and wants of emerging population. For this multinational as well as national corporation have adopted a sole motive of consumer satisfaction. But if the service provider lacks in quality or services, as it always happen, and you are getting shocks for your appliances, consuming adulterated food items or getting exploited by seller/merchants, so then there is room for consumer protection act, 1986. It acts as additional safeguard in promoting and protecting the interest of consumers against unfair trade practices, which are generally done to avail the extra profits. These restrictive trade happens in every market economy and we the consumer are unaware about them.
The consumer protection act established and enacted by parliament in 1986 is based on the concept of best value of money which aims at providing safeguard to consumer against defective goods, deficient services or other forms of exploitation. The scope of this act is wide as it is applicable to all types of undertakings, big and small, whether in the private or public sector, or in the co-operative sector whether a manufacturer or a trader, and whether supplying of goods or providing services. It’s simple, speedy and inexpensive, that’s all what a consumer want. The act has been amended in 1992 and 2002, but its basic features and have remained same throughout these years, which are as follows:-
- Promoting and protecting the interest of consumer by asserting them to get fair deal
- Educating and creating awareness among consumers about different unfair trade techniques happening in society
- Describing the role of consumer and buying only standardized goods
CONTENTS OF CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986
The law of consumer protection has come to meet the long felt necessity to the common man from which the remedy under ordinary law for various reasons has come illusory. The act has always remained a beneficiary platform to consumer and the contents have been designed according to the changing needs of society and its member:-
-it defines terms like consumer, complaint, service , defective goods and many more which play a important part of any complaint
-it provides the composition, jurisdiction and procedures to file complaint in appropriate forum/ commission
-The act sets up quasi- judicial bodies at district, state and apex level and every redressal agency has its own monitory complaint capacity
(I)District consumer forum (up to Rs.20 lakh)
(ii) State consumer commission (Rs 20 lakh- 1crore)
(iii) National consumer commission (Rs 1crore and above)
-it uses its power as a civil court and gives order to trader or service provider, if held guilty, to remove the defect, replace the product with new one or pay compensation as per loss incurred by consumer
- It provides better relief against the odd practices of business community by imposing them with penalties in term of imprisonment or fine
- The CPA, 1986 have played a vital role in delivering much landmark judgment in the history of law. These decisions are in the field of negligence by medical practitioners, shortcoming in the quality of goods by traders or under weighing or keeping hazardous goods by traders.
- The relief available to consumer under CPA?
(I) to remove the defect in goods or deficiency in service
(ii) To replace the defective product with a new one, free from any defect
(iii) To refund the price paid for the product, or services
(iv) To pay punitive damages in appropriate circumstances
(v) To cease manufactures of hazardous goods and desist from offering hazardous services
(vi) To discontinue the unfair /restrictive trade practice and to repeat it in the future
- Who can file a complaint under CPA?
(I) any consumer;
(ii) Any registered consumer association;
(iii) The central government or any state government;
(iv) One or more consumer, on behalf of numerous consumers having the same interest;
(v) A legal heir or representative of a deceased consumer
In lack of quality of goods and services, wholly service provider cannot be blamed; there are some duties and rights which lie on part of consumer. These rights and duties have to be kept in mind while purchasing any good or availing in services. (Sec 6 of CPA, 1986) These were recognized and started as a modern consumer movement by former USA president J.F. Kennedy in the decades of 70 ¢s. but Ralph Nader is known as the father of consumer movement. On 15th march, 1962 which is also observed as world consumer day, the president Kennedy declared 4 consumer rights but with development society and dynamic feature of market, these rights were extended to 6 consumer right, declared by international organization for consumer union.
Rights of Consumer under This Act
(I) Right to safety against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;
(ii) Right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;
(iii) Right to choose or get assured, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices
(iv) Right to be heard and to be assured that consumers interests will receive due consideration at a appropriate forums;
(v) Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumer;
(VI) right to consumer education;
So as to establish these rights in people’s regular life many NGOs and government programmers (jaago grahhak jaago) have been brought up. They try to educate and encourage the general public to protest against exploitative and unfair practices of sellers by organizing training programmers, seminars and workshops. Providing legal advice in filling of cases in appropriate consumer court as initiator is also a part of their programmers. But the Main Problem in country like India, which is said to be on path of development and upcoming as super power in this competitive world. However this nation has class of people who are even not aware about their fundamental rights, expect freedom of endless speech and expression as they have permanent tendency of it. This feature makes consumer suppress under hand of manufactures and they are bound to obey or follow unfair practices of them. Due to this, our emerging consumer protection act,1986 has taken the same way as many such acts which are formed for the people, but we the people of India have, every time blamed the system rather than making beneficiary use of these acts. So how can we accept that people can have transparent knowledge about their right as a consumer?
Student, B.A., LLB (H) Jamia Millia Islamia
[Submitted as an entry for the MightyLaws.in Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]