CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 198610 min read

By- Simran Gupta

Introduction

Consumer Protection is an idea that was first presented by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States on fifteenth March 1962. He talked about this idea in an exceptional discourse to the Congress. His discourse focused on ensuring the consumer’s advantage. Kennedy additionally talked about the four essential privileges of the customer, specifically: 

  • Right to Safety 
  • Right to be Informed 
  • Right to be Heard 
  • Right to Choose. 

His conversation started a thought and ensuing enactment to secure buyers. 15th March is praised as World Consumer Rights Day, taking motivation from Kennedy. 

History and Development of Consumer Protection Laws in India

Ancient India

Old India saw the matchless quality of the Vedas as a strict book, originating from God himself. The Vedas was carefully trailed by the dominant party in the old Indian society. Apart from the Vedas, this period additionally offered ascend to the Code of Chanakya, Manu Smriti, Narada Smriti, etc. These antiquated codes contained arrangements which tried to shield the interests of the customer, with the point of buyer security. The discipline was additionally allowed when the consumer-related arrangements were conflicted with. Among the Dharmas, the most legitimate writings are: 

  • Manu Smriti 
  • Yajnavalkya Smriti 
  • Narada Smriti 
  • Bruhaspati Smriti 
  • Katyayana Smriti. 

Among these, Manu Smriti was the most powerful. 

Manu Smriti 

Manu Smriti was about the social, political and financial states of the general public in the antiquated occasions. It worried on moral exchange works on, rebuffing the individuals who were uncalled for to the consumers. Its endorsed implicit rules reached out to defilement too, which is blending of a product with another, subsequent in debasement. All merchandise had a market cost or a deal cost, as set by the lord. All loads and measures were examined at regular intervals, and the consequences of these examinations were tracked. 

Kautilya’s Arthashastra 

Kautilya’s Arthshastra characterized laws directing loads and measures. A punishment was proposed merchants who enjoyed corruption of merchandise to be specific grains, medication, fragrances, salt and sugar. Arthashastra depicts the part of the State in directing exchange and its obligation to forestall violations against consumers.[1] Black advertising and unjustifiable exchange rehearses were carefully looked denounced by Kautilya. There were disciplines recommended for various kinds of cheating, which were rigid. These fines could be as extreme as removing the miscreant’s hand. The privileges of the dealers were likewise all around secured by the Arthashastra. 

Medieval Period 

A move in the timespan of India from antiquated to archaic brought about an emphasis on Islam as a religion and the laws of Islam. The Holy Quran, the primary content of the Muslims, likewise focused on the insurance of consumers. The Quran has refrains that show that the utilization of unfair loads and measures is inadmissible. During the time of the Sultanate, nearby conditions decided the cost of commodities. Hence, both the Hindu and the Muslim sacred texts that were being utilized together by the lords of various conditions of India advanced buyer assurance. Like the Hindu messages, the Quran likewise contained different standards and guidelines for shielding customers from the out of line and vile acts of neglect enjoyed by sellers. During the standard of Alauddin Khalji, the market had been constrained by different orders and solutions. The king fixed costs of the grains. There was a severe value control component actualized in the market. Diverse shopping zones were set up for various products, in particular Grains, Fabric, sugar, spread, oil, etc 

Modern Period 

In the advanced period, the past conventional legitimate frameworks set up by Indian rulers were supplanted by new present-day laws. The British presented the English Common Law in India alongside other administrative measures for the general population and thusly, the purchasers. 

A portion of these enactments are as per the following: 

  • The Indian Contract Act, 1872 
  • The Sale of Goods Act, 1930 
  • Indian Partnership Act, 1932 
  • The Agricultural Produce(Grading and Marketing) Act, 1937 
  • The Drugs Act, 1940 
  • The Drugs and Cosmetic Act 1940 

These enactments end up being colossally compelling in sparing the interests of the consumers during the hour of the British. The principles were presently uniform the nation over and not discretionary to the assessments of the different rulers of the Ancient and Medieval periods. 

Post-Independence Period 

At the point when India achieved autonomy, it embraced the Anglo-Saxon arrangement of organization of justice. Hence, the past enactment that was set up by the British kept on working in autonomous India. 

Alongside the current enactment, the nation was on its way to more laws through the formation of the Indian Constitution and its reception in 1950. Because of the majority rule nature of the Constitution, the prime focal point of the laws was the advantage of the overall population, who were likewise customers.

READ ALSO: Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules Comes Into Force




Object and Reasons of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986

The Consumer Protection Act 1986 was ordered to accommodate better security of the interests of consumers and for that reason to make arrangement for the foundation of Consumers Councils and different experts for the settlement of buyers’ questions and issues associated therewith (Preamble). 

The Act Inter alia, tries to advance and ensure the privileges of consumers, for example, — 

(1) Right to be ensured against showcasing of products which are unsafe to life and property; 

(2) Right to be educated about the quality, amount, intensity, virtue, standard and cost of products to ensure the consumer against unjustifiable exchange rehearses; 

(3) Right to be guaranteed, at every possible opportunity, admittance to an assortment of products at serious costs; 

(4) Right to be heard and to guarantee that clients’ advantages will get due thought at proper discussions. 

(5) Right to look for redressal against out of line rehearses or corrupt misuse of customers; and 

(6) Right to customer instruction 

The items are looked to be advanced and secured by the Consumer Protection Councils to be built up at the Central and State levels. 

The Act applies to all products and ventures, aside from if in any case given by the Central Government by Notification. To give rapid and basic redressal of consumer questions, a semi-legal hardware is set up at the District, State and Central levels. The three-level arrangement of semi-legal bodies will watch the rule of characteristic equity and are enabled to give help of a particular sort and to grant, any place proper, remuneration to purchasers. Punishments for resistance of the requests given by the semi-legal bodies have likewise been given. 

Consequently, the Consumer Protection Act is to serve the interests of the consumers. Purchaser instruction and redressal of buyers’ complaints are the two parts of the Act. It makes great the misfortune a purchaser endures and expands the sentiment of duty of the maker, merchant, provider or financial specialist. 

While different enactments might be either corrective or preventive, the Consumer Protection Act repays the customer. The arrangements of the Act are notwithstanding and not in discrediting of the arrangements of any law at the time being in power (Sec 3). 

In Maine Container Services South Pvt Ltd v Go Garments 1998 (3) SCC 247 it has been held that the Contract Act applies to all defendants before the Commissioner under the Consumers Protection Act. Travellers going in train enduring wounds and loss of Jewelry because of attack by rowdy group are qualified for documenting of protest before State Commission is viable despite the arrangements of segments 100 and 103 of Railways Act, 1889. The Consumer Protection Act along these lines gives the customer an extra cure other than those which might be accessible under other existing laws. Presence of a mediation statement in the understanding is no bar to the diversion of grumbling by the Redressal Agency as the cure under the Act is notwithstanding the arrangements of some other law. Be that as it may, the Consumer Forums under the Act have not assumed control over the locale of common Courts. If the question between the gatherings is forthcoming in Civil Court no Consumer Forum will mediate the debate. Likewise, if proof is laid by the gatherings to the question is voluminous or muddled the gatherings will allude to the proper Civil Court. 

Customers Protection Act, in this way, cherishes the privileges of a buyer to be educated about the quality, amount, power, cost and so on., of the merchandise to be secured against out of line exchange rehearses, to look for cheap and speedy redressal of complaints before the Consumer Forums. Customer Protection Act is a kind bit of enactment to shield a huge group of consumers from abuse.

Consumer protection council

The Consumer Councils have been made to exhort and help the purchasers in looking for and implementing their privileges. In India, there are Consumer Councils both at Center level and State level. The State Government will set up a District Consumer Protection Council for each region.

The objects of the Central Council shall be to promote and protect the following rights of the consumers

· The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;

· The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;

· The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices;

· The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;

· The right to seek to readdress against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and

· The right to consumer education.

Consumer Protection Forums

The Consumer Protection Act provides three-tier machinery for redressal of consumer grievances:

  1. District level forum- At the most reduced level are the District Forums and these are built up in each District and have the purview to engage objections where the estimation of merchandise or benefits and the pay assuming any, guaranteed doesn’t surpass Rs.20, 00, 00 (Twenty Lakhs) and a protest can be documented in a District Forum inside as far as possible 
  2. State-level forum- The State Consumer Disputes Redress Commission is built up in each state and these have ward to engage grievances where the estimation of merchandise or benefits and the pay assuming any, asserted surpasses rupees twenty lakhs however doesn’t surpass rupees one crore. 
  3. National level forum-The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has locale to engage protests where the estimation of the merchandise or administrations and remuneration if any asserted surpasses rupees one crore.

Appeal

An Appeal from the order of the District Forum lies to the State Commission, against the order of the State Commission to the National Commission and the order of the National Commission to the Supreme Court.

 All appeals are to be filed within 30 days of the order appealed against and are to be accompanied by a certified copy of the order. Period of 30 days is counted not from the date of order but the date when the order is communicated to the appellant. These three forums are consumer disputes redressal agencies which they worked under their jurisdiction.