Need of the Consumer Protection Act
The growing reliance on the national economy and the international nature of many business processes has contributed to the development of a global emphasis on consumer protection and development. Consumers, clients and customers around the world, want a fair amount of quality goods and better services.
Modern technological advances have undoubtedly contributed to the quality of the goods, the availability, and the security of goods and services. But the reality of life is that consumers are still the victims of unscrupulous practices and exploits.
Consumer exploitation is perceived in many ways such as food fraud, illicit drugs, unpopular buying programs for employers, high prices, low quality, poor services, dangerous products, black marketing and many more. In addition, with the change in information technology, new types of challenges are being thrown at the consumer such as cybercrime, misuse of plastic money etc., affecting the consumer in a very significant way.
‘Consumer is independent’ and ‘customer is king’ are not just myths in the current situation especially in developing communities. However, it is achievable and appropriate for consumer protection to be a social and economic system to be pursued by government and business as consumer satisfaction is in the interest of both.
In this case, the government, however, has a primary responsibility to protect the interests and rights of consumers through appropriate policy measures, legal framework and regulatory framework.
Consumers participate in the market through a particular product. If there were no buyers there would be no company.
The consumer situation is even more tragic in terms of consumer rights. You can take examples of low-end homeowners, a company that makes false claims in the packaging. Then there are local sweetmeat vendors who make immature things to produce laddoos or barfis. You may recall the case of weight loss due to contaminated mustard oil. No matter how bad you get, there is a good chance you will get a strong response from the shopkeeper if you have a complaint.
Background History of Consumer Rights
The history of consumer rights protection by law has been honoured since 1824. Every year 15 March is considered International Consumer Rights Day. That day in 1962 U.S. President John F. Kennedy urged the US Congress to approve the Consumer Rights Bill which had:
(i) The right to choose
(ii) Right to information
(iii) Right to safety and
(iv) Right to a hearing.
In India, the movement of consumers as a ‘social force’ arose with the need to protect and promote consumer interests in unethical and illegal trading practices.
Widespread food shortages, stockpiling, black marketing, mixing of food and edible oil gave birth to a consumer movement in an organized way in the 1960s.
Until the 1970s, consumer organizations were heavily involved in essay writing and exhibitions. They set up consumer groups to check for food shortages and overcrowding. Recently, India has seen an increase in the number of consumer groups.
Consumer association arose as a result of consumer dissatisfaction as many of the unethical practices were sold by retailers.
There was no legal system available to consumers to protect them from market exploitation. For a long time, when a customer was unhappy with a particular product in a store or store, he or she would refrain from buying the product, or stop buying it at that store. It was thought that it was the consumers’ responsibility to be careful when purchasing goods or services. It has taken many years for organizations in India, and around the world, to make people aware of awareness.
As a result of all these efforts, the organization succeeded in putting pressure on corporate and government institutions to address business ethics that may be inappropriate and conflict with the interests of consumers as a whole. A major step forward in 1986 by the Indian government was the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act 1986.
CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (COPRA) was a law of the Indian Parliament enacted in 1986 to protect the interests of consumers in India. It is designed to establish consumer councils and other authorities to resolve consumer complaints and related matters. The act was passed by Parliament in October 1986 and came into force on December 24, 1986.
CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019
The move came into effect in 2019 after it was referred to the Indian Parliament. The Bill replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Key elements of the Bill include:
Four consumer rights are defined in the Bill, including the right to (i) be protected from the sale of goods and services that are harmful to health or property; (ii) information on the quality, quantity, strength, purity, quality and price of goods or services; (iii) ensure the availability of a variety of goods or services at low prices; and (iv) seek redress regarding unfair or restrictive trading practices.
Central Consumer Protection Authority:
The central government will establish a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce consumer rights.
It will control issues related to consumer rights violations, unfair trade practices, and misleading advertisements.
The CCPA will perform the following functions, including (i) investigating consumer rights violations, investigating and initiating prosecutions at an appropriate forum; (ii) transfer orders for the commemoration of goods or withdrawal of dangerous services, refund of payment, and suspension of fraud; (iii) remove references from the relevant trader/manufacturer/manufacturer/advertiser/publisher to refrain from making false or misleading advertising, or to alter it; (iv) imposing fines, and; (v) issue consumer safety notices regarding unsafe goods and services.
Misleading advertising fines:
CCPA may impose fines on a manufacturer or authorized holder of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for false or misleading advertisements. In the latter case, the fine can be up to Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment for up to five years.
Product debt means the liability of the product manufacturer, service provider or retailer to compensate the consumer for any damage or damage caused by good or problematic service. To apply for compensation, the consumer must disclose any conditions of disability or deficit, as provided for in this Bill.
Consumer Dispute Resolution Commission:
Consumer Dispute Resolution Commissions (CDRCs) will be established regionally, provincially and nationally. The consumer may lodge a complaint with the CDRC regarding (i) improper or restrictive trading practices; (ii) defective goods or services; (iii) overpayment or fraudulent charges; and (iv) the supply of goods or services for sale that may be dangerous to health and safety.
The process to file Consumer Case
Any consumer complaint relating to a tax or service must be lodged in writing with the Regional Forum by the consumer and the fee payable.
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Regional Tribunal may reject or accept the appeal, usually within 21 days from the date of the appeal. Alternatively, a copy of the appeal will reach the opposing party for approval within 45 days.
An effective and efficient Consumer Protection program is especially important for all of us because we are all consumers.
Even a manufacturer or service provider is a buyer of other goods or services. If both manufacturers/suppliers and consumers understand the need for co-existence, waste products, counterfeit goods and other shortages of services.
However, this must continue in a harmonious manner so that our society can be a better place for all of us to live. Consumers can be taught to develop an understanding of their responsibilities as consumers.
The consumer should collaborate to create the potential and impact of safeguarding and expanding their interests. Manufacturers and shopkeepers should be made to think carefully before committing fraud, and severe penalties should be imposed by the government.
Disclaimer: This article has been written by Swarnima Jha (LinkedIn) of New Law College, Pune. The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Adjuva Legal and Adjuva Legal does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.