The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 lays down the rights of the consumers and provides for promotion and protection of the rights of the consumers. A consumer is any person who buys any goods for a consideration and user of such goods. The provisions of the Act cover goods as well as services.
The goods are those which are manufactured or produced and sold to consumers through wholesalers and retailers. The services are in the nature of transport, telephone, electricity, housing, banking, insurance, medical treatment, etc.
- The Act mandates establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at the Centre as well as in each State and District, with a view to promote consumer awareness.
- It also provides for a 3-tier structure for inexpensive, speedy and summary redressal of consumer disputes.
- Quasi-judicial bodies have been set up in each District and State and at the National level, called the District Forums, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission respectively.
- Each District Forum is headed by a person who is or has been or is eligible to be appointed as a District Judge and each State Commission is headed by a person who is or has been a Judge of High Court. The National Commission is headed by a sitting or retired Judge of the Supreme Court.
- If a consumer is not satisfied by the decision of a District Forum, he can appeal to the State Commission. A consumer can appeal to the National Commission against the order of the State Commission.
- The National Commission also exercises appellate and revisional jurisdiction from the orders of State Commissions or the District fora.
- If any person aggrieved is by an order of the National Commission, he may prefer an appeal to the Supreme Court within a period of 30 days after the order is passed.
- Right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property
- Right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services
- Right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices
- Right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums
- Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers
- Right to consumer education
- A written complaint can be filed before the District Consumer Forum for pecuniary value of up to Rupees twenty lakh, State Commission for value up to Rupees one crore and the National Commission for value above Rupees one crore.
- If the complaint is against defective goods, the consumer is empowered to take sample of the good for testing.
- In the complaint/appeal/petition submitted under the Act, a consumer is required to pay a nominal fee.
- In the event of death of a complainant who is a consumer or of the opposite party against whom the complaint has been filed the proceedings will not come to a halt. The legal heir of the complainant or the opposite party can represent. The proceedings can be instituted or continued.
Thus the Act has enabled ordinary consumers to secure less expensive and often speedy redressal of their grievances.
In India, 24th December is observed as National Consumer Day. On this day the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the President. The enactment of this Act was considered as a historic milestone in the consumer movement in the country. Jago Grahak Jago is a consumer awareness programme from Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India.
March 15 every year is celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day. The theme of the World Consumer Rights Day 2019 is “Trusted Smart Products”.
Consumer Protection Bill, 2018
The Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 was introduced in Lok Sabha which seeks to replace the old Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Visit Here to find the details of the Bill.