The Salient features of The Consumer Protection Act,1986
In countries like India, customers or rather ‘consumers’ are treated as Gods. A consumer is someone who takes a service from a service provider. This service can be a person buying fruits from a fruit seller or a person taking broadband service from a provider. Thus, there is a relationship between the consumer and the provider. Now, when those service providers give a poor-quality service or frauds the consumer, the Consumer Protection Act,1986 comes to force.
The Consumer Protection Act was implemented in the year 1986 to safeguard the rights of the consumer. Before this act came to existence there was no such law which could protect the rights of a consumer. The only remedy that is available is to file a civil suit against those shopkeepers or the service provider.
Now we will understand some basic terminology under this specific act.
- ‘Consumer’- According to Section-2(1)(d) of the Act, a consumer is a person who purchases any goods or services or hires services for his own use and not for the manufacture or resale of that good. This indicate the consumers are the last mark of the product chain. For instance, a person goes to a shop and buys some flour from a shopkeeper in order to make bread for resale purpose. That person buying flour will not be a consumer.
- ‘Consumer dispute’- According to Section-2(1)(e) of the act, consumer dispute is termed as a situation when a person denies the allegations filed against him in a complaint.
- ‘Service’- According to Section-2(1)(o) of the act, ‘service’ means any description or any facility which is provided to the potential users and in not rendered free of charge or under a contract of a potential service.
- ‘Defect’- According to Section-2(1)(f) of the act, ‘defect’ means any fault, imperfection or shortcoming in the quality, quantity, potency and purity in standard which is to be maintained by law.
- ‘Complaint’- According to Section-2(1)(c) of the act, ‘complaint’ is any allegation made by a consumer against any faulty service, a bad quality product or unfair trade practices.
In this act, there are six rights of a consumer. These rights safeguard the consumer from the malpractice of the service providers. These rights are-
- Right to Safety– These rights refer to the rights to be protected against the making of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property of the consumer.
- Right to Information– It refers to the rights of a consumer to be informed about quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of the goods and services.
- Right to Choose– It is defined in the act as the right to be assured to have access to variety of goods and services at the competitive prices. It is very common to find one product sold at different possible prices by different sellers. Thus, the consumers must have this right.
- Right to be heard– It is referred to as the right to be heard and to be assured that consumers’ interest will receive due consideration at appropriate forum.
- Right to seek redressal– If any consumer has been exploited by the seller, he has the right to seek redressal i.e., he has the right to claim compensation. This right gives justice to the consumer.
- Right to consumer Education– It is the right of each and every person who is a citizen of India to have knowledge about all the laws and policies relating to the consumer.
Features of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986
The following are the features of the Consumer Protection Act,1986: –
- The Act provides for establishing three tier consumer dispute redressal machinery at the national, state and district level. These redressal mechanism helps to safeguard the rights of the consumers. These redressal machineries are available in three forms- district forum, state forum and national forum.
- District Forum– Each and every district has a District Consumer Disputes Redressal forum. According to section 11 of this act, this forum has the jurisdiction to entertain complaints and disputes only where the value of the value of the goods and services and the value of the compensation claimed does not exceed 20 lack rupees. The district forum has the same powers as that of a civil court in the following matters-
- In the summoning and enforcing of attendance of any defendant or witness.
- In examining the witness on an oath.
- In receiving the evidence on affidavit.
- In other matters which may be prescribed.
- Demanding of the report of the concerned analysis.
- State Forum– Each and every state has a state forum. According to Section 17 of this act, the pecuniary jurisdiction of a state commission for entertaining complaint or issues where the value of goods and services and the compensation claimed exceeds 20 lac rupees but not more than 1 crore rupees.
- National Forum– This forum was formed in the year 1988. According to Section 21 of the act, the pecuniary jurisdiction of a national commission for entertaining complaints where the value of goods and the compensation claimed exceeds 1 crore rupees.
- It applies to all goods and services– This act has an extent to all goods and services given and offered by a service provider. According to Section 2(7) of the sale of goods act, ‘goods’ means every kind of movable property other than money. This can include stocks, shares and things attached to or forming part of the land which are agreed to be sold or in a contract to be sold.
- It covers all sectors whether private, public or person. This act extends to all providers at all levels. It may be a private sector who is giving services. For example, the multinational companies like Apple Inc., Samsung Co., Ford, Woodland, Nike etc. It may be a public sector like IDBI bank, Life insurance Corporation of India (LIC) or ration dealers. It can be an individual person too like the shopkeepers or the service providers. All of them are termed as ‘service providers’.
Thus, he existence of this act helped the consumers to a large extent. Today, the consumer knows their rights and thus the service providers focus on the quality of goods and services and hence it maintains a good and healthy relationship between both customers and service providers.
Author: Sattwik Biswas,
2nd Year BBA LLB under IFIM Law School, Bangalore