Role of Consumer Protection Act in protecting the Rights of Consumer in India

INTRODUCTION

The rising interdependence of the global economy, as well as the transnational nature of many business operations, have led to the establishment of a worldwide emphasis on the preservation and promotion of consumer rights. In India, the consumer movement as a’social force’ arose out of the need to safeguard and promote consumers’ interests against unfair or unethical economic practises. As a result, in order to combat these tactics and defend customers’ interests, The Consumer Protection Bill, 1986 was approved by both chambers of parliament and gained the President’s approval on December 24, 1986. It was enacted as THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986 [68 OF 1986]. It aims to improve consumer protection by establishing Consumer Councils to resolve consumer issues.

Recognition of Consumer Rights:

The necessity for consumer rights recognition has long been acknowledged all around the world. The amount of consumer awareness in a country may be used to gauge the country’s growth. Various consumer rights have been established to protect the customer. Most businesses are quite successful, but with these successes come a slew of difficulties for consumers, such as excessive costs, dangerous products, bad service to the underprivileged, and a slew of other issues.As a result, the necessity to legally safeguard customers from exploitation was felt. A separate agency was established in both the federal and state governments to protect the consumer rights entrenched in the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. It aims, among other things, to promote and preserve consumer rights such as-

  1. The right to be heard and assured, wherever possible, access to an authority of goods at competitive prices.
  2. The right to be protected against marketing of goods that are hazardous to life and property
  3. The right to be informed about the quality, standard, purity, quantity, and price of goods to protect the consumer against unfair practices, etc. 

To provide speedy redressal to consumer disputes, a quasi-judicial machinery is sought to be set up at the district, State, and Center levels. These quasi-judicial bodies will observe the principles of natural justice and have been empowered to give relief to a specific nature and to award, wherever, appropriate, compensation to consumers. Penalties for noncompliance with the orders given by the quasi-judicial bodies have also been provided.

Protection of Consumer Rights in Rural Areas:

In this scenario, rural consumers must be protected by educating them about their rights and empowering them to make logical decisions based on the information provided about products or services. Until far, consumer awareness has been concentrated on urban areas; however, as the market expands to rural areas, consumer awareness should be transferred to them as well. However, this is a massive effort that need the engagement of Panchayati Raj Institutions in order to reach rural customers. Sabha meetings may be used to teach rural residents about their consumer rights. Protecting the rights of rural consumers, who make up the majority of the consumer base, should be a top focus.

Rural marketplaces have grown in importance in nations such as India in recent years, as economic expansion has increased the purchasing power of rural residents. Rural markets for FMCG and consumer durables have grown consistently since the 1980s and are now larger than urban markets. According to an analysis of NSS data, rural areas account for 75% of manufacturing spending.

Consumer rights are protected by a statute known as the act, which guarantees that customers get products and services of the highest quality. According to the statute, a consumer is “one who acquires products and services for his/her own use.” A consumer is someone who uses such products and services with the buyer’s consent. As a result, this statute applies to all products and services.

Highlights of the Act:

The term “consumer” is defined under the new Act as anybody who “buys any products” or “hires or avails of any service” for a fee, but it does not cover anyone who gets goods for resale or goods or services for any business purpose. The Act aims to broaden the definition’s reach. Thus, a customer will now be defined as anybody who “buys any things” or “hires any services,” which includes both online and offline transactions via electronic methods, teleshopping, direct selling, or multi-level marketing.

The concept of “product liability” has been newly introduced and is defined as the responsibility of a product manufacturer or product seller of any product or service to compensate for any harm caused to a consumer due to defective product manufactured, sold, or deficiency in services relating thereto:

  • The rights of the consumer are protected against the marketing of goods, products, or services which are hazardous to life and property. 
  • Be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price of goods, products, or services.
  • Be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods, products, or services at competitive prices.
  • Be heard and be assured that consumers’ interests will receive due consideration.
  • Seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers, and consumer awareness.
  • Introduction of “e-commerce” and “electronic service provider”
  • The Act has inserted the definition of “e-commerce” which means buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over digital or electronic networks 4. Section 94 of the Act refers to the prevention of unfair trade practices in e-commerce and direct selling and deals with the protection of interest and rights of consumers.

CONCLUSION

The simplicity of the system and the speed with which trials are resolved through forums is unique and has few counterparts in the world. The act’s implementation is more important than ever for the protection of consumer rights. However, consumer awareness is required to ensure the success of the consumer protection movement in the country. It is the sole means through which consumer rights may be safeguarded.

The Act is a good step in the right direction for consumers. It gives consumers clearly defined rights and a dispute resolution mechanism that may allow them to address their problems quickly. Online marketplaces and online auction sites, which have always been included within the jurisdiction of a “aggregator,” have now been included under the scope of this Act, which will impose additional accountability on them for the goods and services they sell and deliver.

REFERENCES

https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/organisation-and-units/division/consumer-protection-unit/consumer-rights

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