CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT 1986
In order to supply better protection of the interests of the buyer the buyer protection bill 1986 , was introduced within the lok sabha on 5th December 1986.
This act is a social welfare legislation which was enacted as a result of wide spread consumer protection movement.
WHO IS A CONSUMER ?
When Consumer purchases a product or avails a service for a consideration, either for his personal use or to earn his livelihood by means of self employment. The consideration may be
• Partly paid and partly promised .
Laxmi Engineering Works vs. P.S.G Industrial Institute (1995)3SCC583
• The Supreme Court held that whether goods bought by an individual are for a ‘commercial purpose’ may be a question of fact and it should be decided by taking into account all the facts and circumstances in each case.
• The Supreme Court further observed that if the products are employed by the purchaser himself for commercial use then he would be considered to be a consumer under this Act but if that person does not use the good himself and engages some other person to operate that particular good then such person will not come under the ambit of the definition of ‘consumer’.
WHY THERE IS A NEED TO PROTECT CONSUMER?
Consumer rights got to be protected since services are availed supported trust and faith, and thus, it’s a necessity to stay a check on the service providers for the sake of service recipient.
The consumers are spread widely everywhere a rustic and are poor, illiterate and are generally not conscious of their rights, though their awareness has recently increased. The manufacturers and suppliers of products or services often exploit consumers by adopting variety of unfair and restrictive trade practices. They often merge and also form tacit cartels to boost prices for maximising their profits at the expense of consumers.
Misleading advertising is another means by which the producers deceive the consumers. Advertisement is of two types. One is informative advertisement which informs the consumers about the supply of certain products at certain prices. This is not objectionable as it provides information to the consumers.
The other and highly injurious practice by the suppliers, of adulteration of commodities. The adulteration by private sector can happen right from the manufacturing point to the last word supplier of the products to the consumers.
WHO CAN COMPLAIN AND HOW ?
* if goods purchased do not fulfill the express or implied conditions and warranties a consumer can complain
* He / she can complain by any method
– by application
– By website – consumerhelpline.gov.in
– Call – 1800 114000
– Sms- 8130009809
* To file the complaint:
The complaint should be filed within two years of shopping for the merchandise or using the service
Assurance Company Limited v Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage Private Limited (Civil Appeal No 10941- 10942 of 2013)
(SC : 04.03.2020)
• The Constitution Bench of the Supreme has conclusively settled conflicting decisions under the Consumer Protection Act 1986 (Act) pertaining to the limitation period for filing a reply to a complaint under the Act. The Supreme Court has held that the time prescribed for filing a reply to the complaint under Section 13(2)(a) of the Act is mandatory and not merely directory. Supreme Court has further held that such time to file a reply commences from the date of receipt of the notice accompanied with the complaint by the opposite party. The Supreme Court passed this order in light of the main object of the Act, which is the speedy redressal of consumer disputes.
• The Supreme Court has provided complete clarity on the time to file the reply to a consumer complaint. This judgment will assist litigants as it entitles them to demand service of a copy of the complaint at the first hearing. The Court has also provided clarity on computation for the aim of calculating the amount of limitation to file the reply.
* Claims of less than Rs5 lakh should be filed with a district forum, claims of Rs5-Rs20 lakh with the state commission, and claims of more than Rs20 lakh directly with the National Commission.
– Pratibha Pratisthan & Ors. v. Manager, Canara Bank & Ors. (Supreme Court)
• That a reading of the definition of the words ‘complaint’, ‘complainant’ and ‘consumer’ makes it clear that a Trust cannot invoke the provisions of the Act in respect of any allegation on the idea of which a complaint might be made. To put this beyond any doubt, the word ‘person’ has also been defined within the Act and Section 2(m) thereof defines an individual as follows :- (m) “person” includes, − (i) a firm whether registered or not; (ii) a Hindu undivided family; (iii) a co- operative society; (iv) every other association of persons whether registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
• That on a clear and straightforward reading of all the above provisions of the Act it’s clear that a Trust isn’t an individual and thus not a consumer. Consequently, it can’t be a complainant and can’t file a consumer dispute under the provisions of the Act.
RELIEFS GIVEN TO CONSUMER
* Removal of Defects:
* Replacement of Goods:
* Refund of Price:
* Award of Compensation:
* Removal of Deficiency in Service:
* Discontinuance of Unfair/Restrictive Trade Practice:
* Stopping the Sale of Hazardous Goods:
* Payment of adequate cost:
In addition to the available law following measures can be adopted which will help in protection of rights of consumer.
•The consumers should be made alert because it is said the an alert consumer is the asset to the nation;
•Both the buyers and sellers need to be made socially more responsible;
•The available judicial and extra judicial remedies should be communicated to the consumers;
•The awareness regarding the exact time, place, procedure to get his right enforced should immediately
be made by adopting all sorts of available resources;
•Systematic and accountable governmental as well as non-governmental endeavour should be made to
educate and promote the consumers about their rights and responsibilities which will certainly lessen
the number of violations of consumers‟ rights;
•More stringent and comprehensive enactments are required to make the consumer laws more effective and fruitful in india.
1st year faculty of law, University of Delhi