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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. The Sales of Goods Act, 1930
This protects the rights of the consumers in case the products received by them are sub-standard.
4. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
The act confirms the purity of the food items and thereby ensures the health of the consumers.
5. 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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 utilize 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.