Summary of Consumer Protection Act 1986
The consumer protection act was the act of the Indian parliament that was introduced in 1986 by the government of India to protect the interest of consumers. Now the consumer protection act 2019 has also been introduced but we will majorly focus on the consumer protection act of 1986.
The very first moment when a person is born, he/she starts consuming something. initially, it is the baby consumes baby products like baby shampoo, powder, diapers, clothes, milk, etc. Thus, every person in this world is a consumer because he/she needs something to consume in order to survive. It is true that for a livelihood a person’s basic requirement is food, shelter, and clothes.
The main motive of the consumer protection act 1986 is to protect the interest of the consumers, to prevent anti-consumer behavior and malpractices of the producers or traders. Some examples of anti-consumer behavior are adulteration, sub-standard quality, incorrect weight, etc. Thus, curbing such practices and penalizing the producers who are indulged in this activity is the main motive behind the consumer protection act 1986. In the case [Morgan Stanley mutual v Kartick Das (1994) 4 SCC 225] the court held that in every society the consumer is the center of focus of all businesses. He /she needs protection from manufacturers, suppliers, producers, wholesalers, and retailers in order to protect his/her interest.
The whole idea of consumerism began in the United States of America, initially non-veteran products like meat used to be sold in the most unhygienic manner due to which many consumers faced mental disturbance. With evolving time consumerism gained more popularity during the 1930s because the people till that time became more aware of the rights and wrongs, they were more enlightened and concerned about the quality and standard of the product. This was mainly due to education, self-awareness, being selective about their purchases, etc.
If we look at consumerism in England it began after the second world war. The slogan “battle for the consumers” was given by the Labour party in their parliament. Their slogan emphasized on availability of better-quality products and with passing time the whole concept of consumerism became stronger and gained popularity around the world.
United Nations guidelines on consumer protection
The guidelines on consumer protection were adopted by the united nation on 9th April 1985. This gave more importance to the principles of consumer protection and legislation around the world. The united nations mainly focus on seven areas these are
- Promotion and protection of consumers’ economic interest
- Physical safety of consumers
- The standard for the quality and safety of consumer goods and services
- Distribution facilities for essential consumer goods and services
- Measures enabling consumers to obtain redress
- Educational and informational programs
- Measures relating to specific areas like water, food, and pharmacies
Consumerism in India
The reason behind consumerism in India was rising prices, poor products, and services, low-quality items, manipulative advertisement, lack of availability of products. The reason behind the consumer exploitation in India was more than that of the united states of America and England was lack of awareness among the Indian consumers, they were not that educated and aware about the product quality, so it was very easy for the producers or manufactures to manipulate Indian consumers, also they were charging high prices for low-quality products. So, the government understood the need to protect the interest of the Indian consumers and they came up with the consumer protection act of 1986 containing relevant legislation and penalties against the producers who were doing malpractices.
Definition of consumer/ who is a consumer
As per section 2(1)(d) a consumer is someone who
- Buys any goods for consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised or under any system of deferred payment and include any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised or under any system of deferred
- Hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such other than the person who hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised under any system of deferred payment when such services are availed of with the approval of the first-mentioned person but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial purposes.
Let’s say Mr. X goes to an electronic shop and buys a mobile phone for his son Y for the consideration of 10 thousand so in the present case the final consumer of the mobile phone is not Mr. X himself but his son Y as per the definition of consumer protection act 1986
Thus, to call oneself a consumer these criteria must be fulfilled
- The goods are bought for consideration
- Any person who uses the goods with the approval of the buyer is a consumer
- Any person who obtains the goods for resale or commercial purposes is not a consumer
Features of consumer protection act 1986
- For the first time, the definition of the consumer was given by this act.
- The act covers complaints relating to goods and services.
- The act applies to all goods and services.
- The complaint can be filed against the manufacturers, seller, or any person who provides goods and services.
- The act covers public, private, and cooperative sectors
- The act establishes consumer protection councils at the district, state, and national levels.
- The appeal against the national consumer council can be filed in the supreme court within 30 days
- The act provides compensation to the consumers as a remedy
- The act allows the filing of class action
Rights of the consumer as per consumer protection act 1986
- Right to safety
- Right to information
- Right to be heard
- Right to choose
- Right to education
- Right to redressal
- Right to a healthy environment
Author: Rohit Soni,
NMIMS Kirit P Mehta School of Law, First year student