Consumer Protection Act

Introduction

Consumer Protection Act is to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and for the purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith.

Consumer protection act 1986 | Law column

The Consumer Protection Act,1986 (COPRA) was an Act by the Parliament of India enacted to protect the interests of consumers in India. It was replaced by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. It was made for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumer’s grievances and matters connected with it. The act was passed in Assembly in October 1986 and came into force on December 24, 1986.

This Act is regarded as the ‘Magna Carta’ in the field of consumer protection for checking unfair trade practices, ‘defects in goods’ and ‘deficiencies in services’ as far as India is concerned. It has led to the establishment of a widespread network of consumer forums and appellate courts all over India. It has significantly impacted how businesses approach consumers and have empowered consumers to a greater extent.

Objectives

The objectives of the Central Council is to promote and to protect the rights of the consumers such as:-

  1. The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property.
  2. 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;
  3. The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices ;
  4. The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interest will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;
  5. The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers
  6. The right to consumer education.

Consumer Redressal Forums

Jurisdiction of District Forum

  1. Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the District Forum shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed does not exceed rupees one crore.
  2. A complaint shall be instituted in a District Forum within the local limits of whose jurisdiction:-
a) – the opposite party or each of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, or
b) – any of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides, or carries on business or has a branch office, or personally works for gain, provided that in such case either the permission of the District Forum is given, or the opposite parties who do not reside, or carry on business or have a branch office, or personally work for gain, as the case may be, acquiesce in such institution; or
c) – the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.

Consumer courts do not have jurisdiction over matters where services or goods were bought for a commercial purpose.

Jurisdiction of State Commission

Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the State Commission shall have jurisdiction:-

a) to entertain

i) complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees one crore but does not exceed rupees ten crore; and
ii) appeals against the orders of any District Forum within the State; and
b) to call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute

Jurisdiction of National Commission

(a) to entertain—
(i) complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees ten crore; and
(ii) appeals against the orders of any State mayor; and

(b) to call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute    which is pending before or has been decided by any State Commission. However,  the Supreme Court of India has held that the jurisdiction of National Commission under Revision Jurisdiction is very limited and can only be exercised when State Commission exceeds its jurisdiction, fails to exercise its jurisdiction or there is material illegality in the order passed by State Commission.

The Rights of the Consumer

  • Right to Safety Before buying, a consumer can insist on the quality and guarantee of the goods. They should ideally purchase a certified product like ISI or AGMARK.
  • Right to Choose Consumer should have the right to choose from a variety of goods and in a competitive price.
  • Right to be informed– The buyers should be informed with all the necessary details of the product, make her/him act wise, and change the buying decision.
  • Right to Consumer Education– Consumer should be aware of his/her rights and avoid exploitation. Ignorance can cost them more.
  • Right to be heard This means the consumer will get due attention to express their grievances at a suitable forum.
  • Right to seek compensation The defines that the consumer has the right to seek redress against unfair and inhumane practices or exploitation of the consumer.

The Responsibilities of the Consumer

  • Responsibility to be aware – A consumer has to be mindful of the safety and quality of products and services before purchasing.
  • Responsibility to think independently– Consumer should be well concerned about what they want and need and therefore make independent choices.
  • Responsibility to speak out– Buyer should be fearless to speak out their grievances and tell traders what they exactly want
  • Responsibility to complain– It is the consumer’s responsibility to express and file a complaint about their dissatisfaction with goods or services in a sincere and fair manner.
  • Responsibility to be an Ethical Consumer– They should be fair and not engage themselves with any deceptive practice.
  • Protection of Action taken in Good Faith

No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the members of the District Forum, the State Commissions or the National Commission or any officer or person acting under the direction of the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission for executing any order made by it or in respect of anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done by such member, officer or person under this Act or under any rule or order made there under.

  • Power to remove difficulties

(1) If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may, by order in the Official Gazette, make such provisions not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act as appear to it to be necessary or expedient for removing the difficulty:

PROVIDED that no such order shall be made after the expiry of a period of two years from the commencement of this Act.

(2) Every order made under this section shall, as soon as may be after it is made, be laid before each House of Parliament.

5[29A. Vacancies or defects in appointment not to invalidate orders

No act or proceeding of the Districts Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission shall be invalid by reason only of the existence of any vacancy amongst its members or any defect in the constitution thereof.]

 

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