Globalisation has led to growing interdependence and increased connection among economies of the world. The positive outcome of this trend is that there is a universal emphasis on consumer rights protection and promotion. Consumers are now increasingly becoming aware of their right and protection mechanisms available to them.
Consumer protection is being designed and updated to ensure fair trade competition and free flow of genuine information in the marketplace. Now, as India is also aspiring to become a world power, focus on consumer protection laws is being renewed.
Benefiting the customer
Various law laws have been introduced in India since independence to protect the rights of consumers, to give a constitutional mandate a solid legal status. The Consumer Protection Act enacted after independence includes the Essential Commodities Act (1955), the Food adultery Act (1954) and the Weight and Measures Act (1976). However, despite all these laws, consumers are still finding themselves at the loss, they are still victims of dishonest and exploitative practices.
The Consumer Protection Act (1986) in India was finally implemented and specially designed to protect the interests of the consumer. This work is the social welfare law with two main objectives. First of all, this act empowers consumers to protect against the marketing of hazardous goods and services. This means that consumers have the right to know about the quality, quantity, accuracy, standards and prices of goods and services. Secondly, the purpose of this act is to provide quick relief to consumers related to disputes arising out of unfair trade practices.
The Consumer Protection Act desires to overcome all obstacles to promote competition between business units. It strives to make provisions for the disposal of consumer disputes to establish consumer councils and other related officers to provide better protection of the interests of consumers.
Unlike other laws, the Consumer Protection Act is also supplementary in nature. The advantage of this work is in flexible jurisdiction and flexibility with an affordable justice system.
The Consumer Protection Act applies to all goods and services, unless specifically exempted by the Central Government. It covers all areas including public, private and cooperative societies. It provides judicial officers, who are simple, fast and less expensive. It also provides for Consumer Protection Councils at national, state and district levels.
With nearly 20 years of existence and through many modifications, the Consumer Protection Act is standing on the test of time. But still there is a lot of scope for further improvement this Act deals with the problems of an individual consumer.
Redressal Machinery under the Act
The Act provides for a three-tier quasi-judicial redressal mechanism at the District, State and National levels for redressal of consumer disputes and grievances, namely:
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (commonly known as National Commission)
It has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods/services complained against and the compensation, if any claimed, exceeds Rs10,000,000 (Indian Rupees 10 Million).
State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (commonly known as State Commission)
It has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods/services complained against and the compensation, if any claimed, exceeds Rs 2,000,000 (Indian Rupees 2 Million) but less than Rs 10,000,000 (Indian Rupees 10 Million).
Applicability of the Law
The District Forum, the State Commission and/or the National Commission shall not admit a complaint unless it is filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen. However, where the complainant satisfies the Forum/Commission, as the case may be, that he has sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within two years, such a complaint may be entertained by such Forum/ Commission after recording the reasons for condoning the delay.
The efficient and effective programme of Consumer Protection is of special significance to all of us because we all are consumers. Even a manufacturer or provider of a service is a consumer of some other goods or services. If both the producers/ providers and consumers realize the need for co-existence, adulterated products, spurious goods and other deficiencies in services would become a thing of the past.
The need of the hour is for total commitment to the consumer cause and social responsiveness to consumer needs. This should, however, proceed in a harmonious manner so that our society becomes a better place for all of us to live in.