Consumer Protection Act, 1986
- Who is a Consumer?
- Objectives of Consumer Protection
- Rights of a Consumer
- Salient Features of Act
- 12th Plan Strategy and Implementation
Who is a Consumer?
All of us are consumers of goods and services. For the purpose of the Consumer Protection Act, the word “consumer” has been defined separately for “goods” and “services”.
separately for “goods” and “services”. For the purpose of “goods”, a consumer means a person belonging to the following categories:
Table of Contents
- 1 Consumer Protection Act, 1986
- 1.1 Who is a Consumer?
- 1.2 Objectives of Consumer Protection
- 1.3 Rights of a Consumer
- 1.4 Salient Features of Act
- 1.5 12th Plan Strategy and Implementation
- One who buys or agrees to buy any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised or under any system of deferred payment
- It includes any user of such goods other than the person who actually buys goods and such use is made with the approval of the purchaser.
- A person is not a consumer if he purchases goods for commercial or resale purposes. However, the word “commercial” does not include use by consumer of goods bought and used by him exclusively for the purpose of earning his livelihood, by means of self employment.
For the purpose of “services”, a “consumer” means a person belonging to the following categories:
- One who hires or avails of any service or services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised or under any system of deferred payment
- It includes any beneficiary of such service other than the one who actually hires or avails of the service for consideration and such services are availed with the approval of such person.
Objectives of Consumer Protection
- To create suitable administrative and legal mechanisms which would be within the easy reach of consumers and to interact with both Government and non-Governmental Organizations to promote and protect the welfare of the consumers.
- To involve and motivate various sections of society including consumer organizations, women and youth to participate in the programme
- To generate awareness among consumers about their rights and responsibilities, motivate them to assert their rights so not to compromise on the quality and standards of goods and services and to seek redressal of their disputes in consumer if required.
- To educate the consumers to be aware of their rights & social responsibilities
Rights of a Consumer
Right to Safety
According to this right. Consumers have the right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property, this right is important for a safe and secure life.
This right includes concern for consumers’ long-term interests as well as for their present requirements.
Sometimes the manufacturing defects in pressure cookers, gas cylinders, and other electrical appliances may cause loss of life, health, and property of customers. This right to safety protects the consumer from the sale of such hazardous goods or services.
Right to Information
According to this right, the consumer has the right to get information about the quality, quantity, purity, standard, and price of goods or services so as to protect himself against abusive and unfair practices. The producer must supply all the relevant information at a suitable place.
Right to Choice
According to this right, every consumer has the right to choose the goods or services of his or her liking. The right to choose means an assurance of availability, ability, and access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices and competitive price means just or fair price.
The producer or supplier or retailer should not force the customer to buy a particular brand only. Consumers should be free to choose the most suitable product from their point of view.
Right to Be Heard or Right to Representation
According to this right, the consumer has the right to represent him or to be heard or the right to advocate his interest. In case a consumer has been exploited or has any complaint against the product or service then he has the right to be heard and be assured that his/her interest would receive due consideration.
This right includes the right to representation in the government and in other policy-making bodies. Under this right, the companies must have complaint cells to attend to the complaints of customers.
Right to Seek Redressal
According to this right, the consumer has the right to get compensation or seek redressal against unfair trade practices or any other exploitation. This right assures justice to consumers against exploitation.
The right to redressal includes compensation in the form of money or replacement of goods or repair of defects in the goods as per the satisfaction of the consumer. Various redressal forums are set up by the government at the national level and state levels.
Right to Consumer Education
According to this right, it is the right of the consumer to acquire the knowledge and skills to be informed to customers. It is easier for literate consumers to know their rights and take action but this right assures that illiterate consumers can seek information about the existing acts and agencies set up for their protection.
The government of India has included consumer education in the school curriculum and in various university courses. The government is also making use of media to make consumers aware of their rights and make wise use of their money.
Salient Features of Act
- The Act provides for establishing three-tier consumer dispute redressal machinery at the national, state, and district levels.
- It applies to all goods and services.
- It covers all sectors, whether private, public, or any person.
- The Act provides for relief of a specific nature and also for compensation to the consumer as appropriate.
- The Act also provides for the setting up of Consumer Protection Councils at the Central, State, and District levels, which are advisory bodies to promote and protect the rights of consumers.
- The provisions of the Act are in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.
- Consumer Protection Act has been in operation for about 25 years. A number of deficiencies and shortcomings in respect of its operation have come to light thereby requiring Amendments on three occasions, still leaving scope for further improvements.
12th Plan Strategy and Implementation
Consumers need an inexpensive and quick grievance redressal mechanism to ensure that manufacturers and service providers are accountable for the price and quality that the consumers are entitled to.
Accordingly, it is necessary to provide several methods of grievance redressal including those which are available in accordance with the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.
Thus, mediation or in-house grievance redressal should be tried, but without giving up the right of the consumer to obtain legal redress; Amendment of the Consumer Protection Act to make it more effective and tuned to reducing the backlog of cases.
Of recent, there has been derogation or poaching on the jurisdiction of the Consumer Protection Act in some of the areas due to the orders passed by the Courts. Such loopholes in the Act should be plugged through appropriate amendments to the Act and Rules.
- Computerisation and Networking of consumers across the country so that consumers can file complaints and access their case status online.
- Setting up counseling and a mediation mechanism at the prelitigation stage so as to reduce the burden of consumer courts and resolve disputes through out-of-court settlements.
- Provision of adequate infrastructure to Consumer fora so as to make them function effectively.
- Moving from a manual system to a computer-based system to bring in more efficiency and transparency.
- Provision for monitoring the performance of functioning of the District by developing dynamic MIS Reports on the performances related to total no. of cases filed/ disposed and other related performance indicators.
- Provision of funds for the annual maintenance of confined hardware items like computers, ups, replacement of ups batteries, etc. under the Scheme on Strengthening Consumer