What is the Need of Consumer Protection?
Before we talk about the various reasons as to why there is a rising need for Consumer Protection, let’s talk about the basics first.
Who Exactly is a Consumer?
An individual who buys or purchases any kinds of products and/or goods and services, not for resale or manufacturing purposes, but only for their personal use, is called a consumer. A consumer can either be one person or a group of individuals.
Consumer Protection works for both the business and the consumers. The consumers, in order to acquire the correct information of the product and services, require this consumer protection forum to keep them updated about their purchase. This enables the customers to make rational decisions and prevents them from misleading information broadcasted by the businesses.
We have already enhanced our scope about what is ‘Consumer Protection’, here in this section we will know about the measures initiated and the contributions done by the government in this legal protection for the consumers.
Consumer Protection Measures in India
Consumer Protection Measures have been initiated all over India. The measures are also in the form of Acts that are reformed and restructured from time to time.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986
This Act protects the rights of the consumers and makes them aware of their rights as a consumer. There are three-tier redressal forums to protect the rights of the consumer.
Indian Contract Act, 1972
The Indian Contract Act lays down the conditions that need to be fulfilled by the parties who contract in an agreement. This act regulates the buyers by keeping a legal check on their promise to sell authentic products to the seller. This Act protects the interest of both parties. It takes care that the contract is not breached, else respective remuneration has to be paid for such breach.
The Sales of Goods Act, 1930
This protects the rights of the consumers in case the products received by them are sub-standard.
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
The act confirms the purity of the food items and thereby ensures the health of the consumers.
The Trade Marks Act, 1999
This Act protects the consumers from the false marks which could mislead them to consume the product, and thus cheat on them by serving less qualified products.
What are the Rights of a Consumer?
A consumer has access to the following rights, courtesy of the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, and they are as follows:
The right to be informed.
The right to safety.
The right to choose.
The right to be heard.
The right to consumer education and related information.
The right to seek redressal.
Consumer Protection Laws
There are various consumer protection laws that help fellow consumers to raise their voices against exploitation. Few consumer protection laws are as follows:
Right to File a Complaint From Anywhere
This new right has enabled the consumer to file their complaint from literally anywhere, be it to the District Commission or the State Commission. With this right, the restriction of location is being wiped out.
Right to Seek Compensation Under Product Liability
The consumer is saved from any damages from defective products or services. The seller is liable to pay the compensation of the damages done to the consumers.
Right to Seek a Hearing Using Video Conferencing
This right helps the consumers to present themselves for hearing through video conferencing mode even. This extinguishes the barriers of location again.
Right to Know Why His Complaint is Rejected
The commissions can never reject a complaint without hearing the complaint from the complainant. In fact, the commission needs to keep the complainant notified about its rejection or accept their complaint within 21 days if no answers are received then it is deemed to have been admitted.
Role of the Government in Consumer Protection
The government prioritizes the protection of consumers. This is a reform that also contributes to the ‘New India’ mission.
Role of Government in Protecting the Consumers are as Follows
The government introduced bills that enforce consumer rights which in turn provide a mechanism for addressing the complaints regarding defective goods and services.
There are consumer dispute redressal forums in the district, national and state levels that help the consumers in solving their grievances.
The bill has been initiated to establish the Consumer Protection Authority who investigates consumer complaints.
The bill of the government classifies the type of contract unfairness so that they can be addressed accurately.
As a Consumer, How can One Make Sure that their Rights aren’t Violated?
The first and foremost step towards protecting one’s rights as a consumer is to get educated on the subject. It is extremely necessary for a consumer to be aware of his/her rights and to know when and where they can utilise these and how. This will help a consumer to not only stay on their guard, but it will also give them a sense of reassurance that if anything does go wrong, they would have the ability to enact their rights.
FAQs on Legal Protection to Consumers
1. What Does the Indian Contract Act, 1972 Tell About?
This Act is applicable to all the states of India. The act determines the circumstances in which promises made by the parties in a contract shall be legally binding to act accordingly. Under Section 2(h), the Indian Contract Act defines a contract as an agreement which is enforced by the law.
2. When is a Contract Said to be ‘Breached’?
A breach of contract means the violation of the agreed-upon terms and conditions of a binding contract. Breaching of a contract could be anything from a late payment to a more serious violation such as the failure to deliver goods or services. A contract is binding and will be actionable if taken to court.
Thus, breaching of contract means the parties who contracted, either of them failed to fulfil their tasks which they were legally bound to do.
3. What is a Consumer Protection Authority?
A Central Consumer Protection Authority checks the matters which relates to the violation of rights of the consumers, violation like - unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are not justified towards the interests of the consumers.
4. What are the Types of Contract Unfairness?
There are four types of contract unfairness –
Paying excessive security deposits.
Disproportionate penalty for an occurrence of breach.
Unilateral termination without any cause.
The type where the consumer is exposed to any disadvantageous situation.
5. Why do consumers need protection?
There is a need to safeguard the interests of consumers, which is why Consumer Protection is so imperative. This need to fortify the interests and actions of consumers is derived from the often exploitative nature of certain sellers. Consumer Protection helps to avoid these types of unjust and unfair behaviors carried out by traders, producers, etc. It also keeps the consumer well informed as well as aware about his/her rights and helps them to make the right and practical decisions.
6. With respect to the Indian Contract Act, 1972, what happens if there is a breach in the contract?
When the terms and conditions of a binding contract, the ones that are agreed upon by both the parties are violated or not followed through, a breach of contract tends to take place. Once a contract is signed by the two parties, both of them become legally bound to fulfil their side of the responsibilities as per the contract. And if either of them fails to do so, the other person is to get compensated for any sort of loss they’ve had to face because of the other party.
7. How does the government ensure that the consumers are protected?
The government is responsible for making sure that the interests of the consumer are safeguarded throughout. For that, it has passed a bill with association to the rights of a consumer. This is highly effective and helpful as it spreads awareness amongst the consumers about what their rights are and how and when they can utilize them. In case a consumer has some grievance, he/she can easily take it up to consumer dispute redressal forums which are present at district, state, and national levels.
8. As a consumer, what can you do if you find your rights being violated?
The first and foremost thing you need to do is to get acquainted with your rights as a consumer, because only then will you be able to tell if you’re being tricked or treated unethically. If you find yourself in such a predicament where a seller or a merchant is violating your consumer rights, you have the freedom to file a complaint regarding the same and get reimbursed for it. Taking some kind of legal action will help ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.
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