The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 defines a consumer as anyone who buys goods or services. Those who buy a good for resale or who use it for commercial purposes are not included in the definition. One frequently asked question is, what rights do consumers have in India? We define consumer rights as a right to get information about the products or services they purchase, including information about the quality, price, quantity, purity, and standards of those products or services. It also defines rights that protect consumers from any adverse treatment.
One of the main laws protecting Indian consumers is the Consumer Protection Act. In 1986, the Consumer Protection Act was introduced and in 2002, the Consumer Protection Amendment Act, 2002, amended the law. India’s Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which replaced the enactment of 1986, came into force on July 20th, 2020. Every individual, including a firm, an undivided Hindu family, and a company, may exercise their consumer rights to buy goods and services created by them. A consumer needs to be aware of basic rights as well as the procedures and courts that follow when their rights are violated.
WHO IS A CONSUMER IN INDIA?
According to Section 2(7) of the 2019 Act, a consumer consumer-defined defined as one who purchases a product or service for consideration. Persons who acquire goods or services for resale are excluded. Affected by the Consumer Protection Act 2019 are consumers who purchase goods through electronic means, teleshopping, direct selling, or multi-level marketing.
WHO IS NOT A CONSUMER IN INDIA?
An individual who obtains or avails of goods or services free of charge, or an individual who obtains or avails of goods or services for resale or to satisfy commercial requirements, or an individual who obtains services to satisfy the commercial requirements of one or more individuals The purpose of self-employment by a person is not considered to be a commercial purpose as defined by the Act.
In the Bill, there are six consumer rights defined, including:
- The right to safety
- The right to choose
- Right to information
- Education of consumers
- The right to be heard
- Right to Seek redressal
Right to safety:
A legitimate consumer’s right is to be protected from the sale of goods and services that could harm their health or property under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. Healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and food processing are some of the areas in which these rights apply; however, this right applies to all domains where there is a serious impact on the health of consumers. In this regard, consumers have the right to be protected from being marketed goods and services that may pose a risk to their lives and properties. This helps to ensure the safety and security of our lives and property. Both long-term interests and immediate needs are on the minds of consumers. It is the right of consumers to be protected from such hazardous goods and services.
Right to choose:
In line with the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, the right to choose refers to the ability to choose a wide range of goods and services at competitive prices. ‘The Right to Choose’ is defined by the Consumer Protection Act 1986 as the right to access products and services at competitive prices, wherever that is possible. Markets are most effectively regulated by competition. Consumerism is counterproductive to cartels, oligopolies, and monopolies. Various industries, such as natural resources, liquor, telecommunications, airlines, etc., are all controlled by a mafia to a certain extent. Due to the socialistic origins of Indian consumers, they are accustomed to tolerating monopolistic markets. People rarely switch power companies when they have a blackout at home. In some cities, even micro markets like fish vendors are known to collude and reduce the consumer’s bargaining power. No matter the size or shape, or span, collusion between companies that sell the same type of product is unethical.
Right to be informed:
A consumer’s right to information is defined by the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 as being the right to obtain information about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price of goods or services, to protect him or her against unfair trade practices. Advertising and word of mouth are the two main sources of information for Indian consumers. The latter method is more common than advertising in India. As a consequence, Indian consumers lack detailed information about the true value, safety, suitability, and reliability of a product. It is often only after a product is purchased that hidden costs, inadequacies in quality, and safety hazards become apparent. The Indian government also claims another right on paper, this right should ensure that all consumable products are labeled in a standard manner indicating the cost, quantity, ingredients, and instructions for safe use of the product.
Right to consumer education:
As part of the Consumer Protection Act 1986, every Indian citizen has the right to receive education on matters concerning consumer protection as well as about his or her rights. It ensures that the country’s consumers have access to information programs and materials that will enable them to make better purchasing decisions than they were able to make before. In addition to formal education, consumer education may refer to educational programs provided by colleges and schools, as well as consumer awareness campaigns run by both government and non-governmental organizations. Consumer NGOs are responsible for ensuring consumer rights throughout the country with little assistance from India’s government.
Right to be heard:
In the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, the term ‘right to be heard’ is defined as a consumer’s right to be heard and have their interests taken into consideration at appropriate forums. Consumers in India are free to voice their complaints and concerns without fear and to speak out against products or companies so that their issues are responded to quickly and appropriately.
Right to Seek redressal:
According to the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, the right to redress exists in the case of unfair trade practices, restrictive trade practices, or unscrupulous consumer exploitation. This right has been more successfully enforced by the Indian government than most other nations. Through the consumer protection act, various consumer dispute redressal bodies including district consumer dispute resolution forums, state consumer dispute resolution commissions, and national consumer dispute resolution commissions have been formed. A consumer grievance redressal agency has both geographical and fiduciary jurisdiction over cases between businesses and consumers.
HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT?
Complaints under section 2 clause 6 of the Civil Practices Act of 2019 are defined as any written complaint made by a complainant to obtain relief provided under the act in case of unfair trade practices, defective goods, inadequate service, excess price of goods, and services, and product liability. On the government’s website, you can file your complaint through the mail or online. The government of India provides a consumer helpline portal by going to https://consumerhelpline.gov.in or through mobile apps.
A complaint’s status can be checked online, and the fee for submitting the complaint can be paid online through a payment portal. Before filing a complaint, it is recommended that the opposing party be notified of the defects/deficiencies in the products or services. A complainant who cannot reach an agreement with the parties may file a complaint with the jurisdiction authority/forum. You can submit a complaint either online or in person. Either the complainant or his representative can submit a complaint in person. Complaints may also be sent by mail. The complaint should be submitted in three copies, one of which is for official use, one goes to the opposite party, and one goes to the complainant. A complaint needs more copies if there are more opposing parties.
CONTENTS OF A COMPLAINT
The following information should be included in the complaint:
- The complainant’s name, description, and address
- Who the opposing party or parties are, their description, and their address
- Information about the complaint, such as when and where it occurred
- If there are any supporting documents, please provide them
- The dispute stems from a problem with the goods or a deficiency in the service
- Suggestions for relief
CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL AGENCIES
Consumer grievance redress organizations established under the act ensure that consumer grievances can be resolved simply, quickly, and inexpensively. There are three levels of these: District, State, and National, and they are referred to as:
- District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
- State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
- National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
There are no court fees for the district commission to consider up to an amount of 5 lakhs. A state commission’s court fees range from 2,500 to 6,000 rupees while a national commission’s court fees are INR 7, 500/-. A deposit of 50% of the award amount passed by the lower commission is required in the event of an appeal before the State Commission or the National Commission.
Author’s Name: Siddhima