Consumer which is defined under Section 2 (d) of
the Consumer Protection Act as a person who buys, hires or avails any good which has been paid or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person. Whereas, as we know that there are many ways in which consumers face difficulty and they are protected by consumer rights. Consumer Rights are those rights which protect the consumer from being cheated by the salesman or manufacturer. For e.g. We are well aware of the fact that whenever we visit a tourist place anywhere in the world the price of the necessity goods like: water bottle, etc abruptly increases by a few rupees and the tourists cannot deny the good as at such places the goods are very rare to get. In respect of this, in 1986 Consumer Protection Act was passed by the government to safeguard the interests of the consumer. It made provisions for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities that help in resolving consumer disputes and many other matters related to it. The consumer protection act also provides for remedies of the damages and losses, which have been incurred by the consumer in unfair trade practice.
SCOPE OF CONSUMER LAW
The Consumer Protection Law protects some rights of consumers, they are:
- Rights against marketing of goods and services which are dangerous to life and property;
- The right to be informed about the quality, quantity and price of goods and services;
- Right to choose;
- Right to be heard to ensure that the interests of consumers receive appropriate consideration at appropriate forums;
- Right to redress against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or dishonest exploitation of consumers;
- Right to consumer education; and
- Right to clean and healthy environment.
CONSUMER PROTECTION COUNCIL
Under District, State, National level interests of consumers are protected.
- Central Protection Council: It gives the power to the Central Government to establish a Central Consumer Protection Council. It consists of a chairman and such number of official and also non- official members. The chairman of the council is the minister in charge of the central government. The term of Council is three years. The Council shall meet at least once in a year.
- State Consumer Protection Council: It gives power to the State Government to establish a State Consumer Protection Council. It consists of a chairman and such number of officers and also non-officials and the members are also ten nominated members of the Central Government. The council is headed by a minister in charge of the state government. The State Council will meet at least once a year.
- District Consumer Protection Council: It provides for the establishment of District Consumer Protection Act to establish a District Consumer Protection Council in each district. It will also include other official and non-official members representing such interests of the president and the consumer. It should be met at least once a year. The Chairman shall decide the time and place of the meeting.
There is a three-tier Quasi-judicial redressal mechanism at the District, State and National levels for redressal of consumer disputes and grievances.
- National Dispute Redressal Commission: It is the Highest Court of Appeal. The presiding judges in NDRC are Retired judges of the Supreme Court. It has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where a complaint has been made against the value of the goods / services and the compensation, if a claim is made, exceeds Rs.10,000,000.
- State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission: It has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where a complaint has been made against the value of the goods / services and the compensation, if a claim is made, exceeds Rs 2,000,000 but less than Rs 10,000,000.
- District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum: It has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where a complaint has been made against the value of the goods / services and the compensation, if a claim is made, is less than Rs 2,000,000.
REMEDIES UNDER THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT
- Removal of defects from goods;
- Replacement of goods;
- Refund of price paid;
- Award of compensation for loss or injury;
- Return of dangerous goods offered for sale; or
- Award for substantial cost to the parties.
- Removing defects or deficiencies in services;
- New India Assurance Company Limited v Abhilash Jewellery, 2009
The complainant / defendant, who had taken a jeweler’s block policy, claimed with the opposite party’s insurer for the loss of gold jewelry. The insurer reiterated this claim on the basis that the loss occurred while Sona was in the custody of a trainee who was not an employee (because the policy determined that to compensate for the loss, the insured property must have been in custody by the insured. , His partner or his employee).The National Commission allowed the complaint, stating that a trainee was an ’employee’ since section 2 (6) of the Kerala Shop and Commercial Establishment Act (as well as some other statutes) and to include a ‘trainee’ Defined an ’employee’.
The Supreme Court held that the word ’employee’ in the contract of insurance mentioned had to be given the meaning in common parlance.
- Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation v Ashok Iron Works Private Limited, 2009
The Supreme Court said that if power was not supplied on time, it would result in loss of service. The court chose to ignore the wording “but does not include a person who avails such services for any commercial purpose”, which was inserted into the Act by an amendment, as the period under consideration was prior to that amendment. Further, the court said that the Ashok Iron Works complaint was valid before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum.
- HDFC Bank Limited v Balwinder Singh, 2015
The complaint was that of the bank, or its debt collection agent, who appoints the offenders to forcibly reimburse the high-powered vehicle and thereby cause physical harassment and mental trauma to the complainant. The District Forum allowed the complaint and directed the bank to pay a compensation of Rs. 4 lakhs for repackaging the vehicle in this manner and giving it to a third party. The State Commission confirmed the order in appeal. While dealing with the revision petition of the bank, the National Commission expressed shock that the bank had directly or through its recovery agents hired muscle.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
Hence, we can conclude that Consumer Protection is as important as some other protections provided to human kind. As Consumers are being exploited on a large scale. Everyone should be kept aware of their Consumer Rights and the redressal machineries as well as the relief for losses and damages which could be enjoyed by consumers. Awareness should be spreaded in the society and to the consumer about their rights through social media or by using technology as people are more digitized nowadays. The authorities should take strict measures relating to the prizes of goods which are sold at higher price than MRP especially at tourist places. The authority should ensure that at such a place’s necessity goods are not sold at higher prices than MRP and if it is done, some strict actions should be taken or some provision should be made for such places and their prizes.
– Nandini Singh Mujalde
SCHOOL OF LAW, DAVV
SECOND POSITION IN ARTICLE WRITING COMPETITION