Consumer Protection

The Consumer Protection Act was introduced in India in 1986 and after that, in 2002 and in 2019 some changes and modifications were made to that act. Now at present, it is known as the consumer protection Act 2019. According to the Preamble, “The Consumer Protection Act, 1989, is to provide for better protection of the interest of consumers and for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumer disputes and for matters connected therewith”.

Need for Consumer Protection Act

  • In today's time, most people want more money and that is why they start making money incorrectly. Similarly, every businessman also wants to earn more money and in this desire, they indulge in black marketing, sell products illegally, and opt for unfair trading. Consumers want protection from these kinds of unfair trade and illegal marketing and to get this protection the Consumer Protection Act was passed.

  • There are many types of products, that are unsafe for the consumers and can be dangerous to health and welfare, like acids. Consumers need protection from these kinds of products. This act limits the selling of products that are hazardous for consumers so that the physical safety of consumers is ensured.

  • There are some types of products that are harmful to the environment, like plastics. These products pollute air, water, and land. To free our environment from these kinds of products there is a need for some strict rules and regulations so that selling of these products can be reduced or banned.

  • There is a need for the quality check of products, especially the products which consumers eat so that they can consume those products without any kind of hesitation and risk.

  • To sell the product, sellers indulge in malpractices, such as misleading advertisements on TV, newspaper, social media platforms, etc. In these advertisements, they promote the best product and sell duplicate products. The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) checks the advertisements. If a trader, manufacturer, advertiser, or publisher telecasts wrong or misleading information in the advertisement, then they have to stop the telecast of that advertisement. If they want to telecast it, they have to rectify it and telecast that advertisement. 

Key Features of the Act

Definition of Consumer

A consumer is a person who buys something for his own use. Those people are not considered as consumers, who buy goods or products from one place and sell it to another or those who buy products for commercial purposes. The consumers can buy goods in any way like electronic means, teleshopping, multi-level marketing, or even through direct purchase.

Consumers Rights

In this bill, a lot of rights have been clarified for the consumer, and these are stated as follows. 

1.  Legal Rights to Consumer

There are several legal rights given to the consumer are, and they are as follows.

  1. Right to Safety

  2. Right to be Informed

  3. Right to be heard

  4. Right to seek redressal

  5. Right to choose

  6. Right to consumer education.

2.  Various Responsibilities of Consumer

  1. The consumer must exercise his/her rights

  2. Caution for consumers (don’t believe on the seller)

  3. Do not get carried away by advertisement

  4. Filing complaints

  5. The consumer must be quality conscious.

3.   Three-tier redressal agencies where consumers can file a complaint :

Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)

The government assigned the Central Consumer Protection Authority to improve consumer rights. This authority has been created so that no one can misbehave with the consumers, no one can violate the rules of the consumer protection act, and no one can mislead the consumer by showing any wrong advertisement. Apart from this, an Investigation Wing has also been formed so that if a person lodges any complaint that violates the Consumer Protection Act then the authorities Investigate that complaint. There are several jobs that are done by CCPA. The first thing is that if there is a complaint, then they should check it, investigate it and after that legal action will be taken. Issuing orders to recall the risky item or withdrawing its services, to recover the stolen price, and to dissolve unfair trade. Their most important task is that if a trader, manufacturer, advertiser, or publisher telecasts a wrong or misleading advertisement, then they have to stop the telecast of that advertisement or they have to correct it and then re- telecast that advertisement.

Penalty for Misleading Advertisements

Today there are many misleading advertisements on TV, newspapers, radio, etc. In these advertisements, the products seem so attractive that people are forced to buy that product regardless of whether those goods are of their use or not, whether they know anything about the goods or not, whether the quality is good or not. CCPA can impose a fine on a manufacturer or endorser for false or misleading advertisements. The manufacturer may also face imprisonment of up to two years, which may extend to five years each time the offence is committed.

The CCPA may also prohibit endorsers of misleading advertisements from endorsing that particular product or service for one year. The period of ban on committing a crime more than once can be extended by three years. However, there are exceptions when the endorser will not be considered a part of such punishment.

Product Liability

If any goods are defective, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to compensate for the damage caused by the goods and de-compensation. To get the compensation from the producer he/she can appeal to the district court, state court, or national high court, and also consumers have to state at least one defect and has to prove that defect.

Importance of Consumer Protection Act

1. Consumer Ignorance: Consumer protection act provides information to ignorant customers regarding the rights and remedies available to them.

2. Unorganized Consumers: In developing countries like India, consumers are not organized. There are very few consumer organizations that are working to protect the interests of consumers. Consumer protection encourages the establishment of more consumer organizations. Consumer protection provides power and rights to these organizations as these organizations can file cases on behalf of customers.

3. Widespread Exploitation of Consumers: Although nowadays consumer is the kingpin of the market then also there is a lot of exploitation of consumers as businessmen use various unfair trade practices to cheat and exploit consumers.

4.  Long Term Interest of Business: After the liberalization and globalization, the level of competition has increased so much that not only internal but the business has to face international competition. In the competition, the businessmen can win and capture a big share of profits in the market only when they can satisfy their customers by designing the products keeping in mind the requirements of customers.

The businessmen who ignore the interest and satisfaction of customers lose their goodwill and clients. So it is in the interest of the business itself to keep its customers satisfied.

5. Businessman Uses Society’s Resources: Businessmen use the resources of society. They earn profit by supplying goods and services to the members of society so it must do something for society. Businessmen are merely trustees of resources; they must use these resources for the benefits of consumers.

6.   Social Responsibilities: A businessman has social obligations towards various groups and customers are one of the important groups. It is the responsibility of businessmen to provide quality goods at reasonable prices. Consumer protection guides businessmen to provide social responsibilities.

7.    Moral / Ethical Justification: Traditionally ethics was part of the profession itself, but today ethics is playing a very important role in business also. The ethics or a moral value practiced by the businessmen adds glory to businessmen. In today’s environment business without ethical value is not more than criminal activity and no civil society can tolerate and allow the existence of an unethical business.

8.   Government Intervention: If businessmen want to avoid the intervention of government then they should not involve in unfair trade practices. Government intervention may spoil the image of the business. Businessmen should voluntarily be involved in the activities which protect the interest of consumers.

9.  Consumers are the Purpose of Business: The basic purpose of business is to create more and more customers and retain them and businessmen can create more customers only by satisfying the customers and protecting the interest of the consumer. The customer is the foundation of the business.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question. What are Consumer Legal Rights?

Answer. There are several consumer rights which are given below:-

a.   Right to Safety- The assertion of this right is aimed at the defence of consumers against injuries caused by products other than automobile vehicles, and implies that products should cause no harm to their users if such use is executed as prescribed.

b.   Right to be Informed- This right states that businesses should always provide consumers with enough appropriate information to make intelligent and informed product choices.

c.  Right to be Heard- This right asserts the ability of consumers to voice complaints and concerns about a product in order to have the issue resolved efficiently and responsively.

d.   Right to seek Redressal- To receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services. It ensures the right to seek redressal of their grievances.

e.   Right to Choose- The right to free choice among product offerings states that consumers should have a variety of options provided by different companies from which to choose.

f.   Right to Consumer Education- To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.