• Lex Specialis

Consumer Protection Councils under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986

Rabi Anandh


Introduction


The Consumer Protection Act, 2000 is an Act of the Parliament of India endorsed in 1986 to ensure the interests of buyers in India. The act has mentioned certain statements and objectives to help consumers and act in the interest of consumers.


The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was amended in the year 2002, in pursuance to the United Nations resolution passed in April 1985 indicating certain guidelines under which the Government could make law for better protection of the interest of the consumers. Such laws were necessary, particularly in the developing countries to protect the consumers from hazards to their health and safety and to provide them available speedier and cheaper redressal of their grievances.” [1]


Who is a consumer?

Section 2(d) defines a consumer.

  • Buys any goods for a consideration

  • Hires or avails of any services for a consideration

The term 'Consumer' includes any user of such goods and also includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who buys such goods or the person who 'hires or avails of the services for consideration paid when such use is made with the approval of such person (does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose)'.

Consumer Protection Council


Providing speedy and simple redressal to consumer disputes is also one of the objectives of the act and to achieve these objectives quasi-judicial machinery is sought to be arranged at the district, state, and central levels these are called consumer forums (district level) & commission (state, national levels). The standards of natural justice are aimed to be achieved by these quasi-judicial bodies, therefore, they have been empowered to give relief to the consumers by giving compensation and also penalties for non-compliance with the orders given by the quasi-judicial, any place fitting.


Whereas Consumer protection council are mainly an administrative body, section 4 to 8A of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 deals with the council. One has to first understand the difference between redressal agencies such as district consumer forum, state & national consumer commission and Consumer protection councils i.e., central councils. The former is a quasi-judicial set-up whereas the latter is purely an administrative body which has advisory and managing powers.


Central Protection Council


Section 4 of the consumer protection act, 1986 sanctions the central level consumer protection council.

The Central Consumer Protection Council.—(1) The Central Government shall, by notification, establish with effect from such date as it may specify in such notification, a Council to be known as the Central Consumer Protection Council (hereinafter referred to as the Central Council).”[2]


The Minister accountable for the consumer issues in the Central Government will be the Chairman of the central protection council, and a number of other authority or non-official individuals representing such interests as might be recommended. According to the Consumer Protection Rules, 1987 the term of the Council shall be three years[3] and at least one meeting of the Council shall be held every year.[4]


State Consumer Protection Council


Section 7 of the consumer protection act, 1986 sanctions the state-level consumer protection council.

The State Consumer Protection Councils- (1) The State Government shall, by notification, establish with effect from such date as it may specify in such notification, a Council to be known as the Consumer Protection.”[5]


The Minister in charge of consumer issues in the State Government will be its Chairman and a number of other authority or non-official individuals, not exceeding ten, as might be named by the Central Government. Like the central consumer protection council, the state-level council should also meet once in a year at least.


District Consumer Protection Council


The rights of the consumer within the districts have to be protected, so the District Consumer Protection Council was formed as per the section 8A of the Act. The State Government will set up a District Consumer Protection Council for each locale.


The State Government shall establish for every district, by notification, a council to be known as the District Consumer Protection Council with effect from such date as it may specify in such notification.”[6]


It will also have the chairman like the other two councils and it shall meet once in a year.


Objectives


Section 6 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 state the objects of the central council to promote and protect the rights of the consumers and the further sections 8 and 8 A of the same act states that State Council shall be to promote and protect within the State and District Council shall be to promote and protect within the district respectively.


The objects are:

(a) The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;

(b) The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;

(c) The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices;

(d) The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer's interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;

(e) The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of con­sumers; and

(f) The right to consumer education. [7]

Conclusion


Industrial development in the field of manufactured goods has led to the influx of various consumer goods into the Indian market to cater to the needs of the consumers and a variety of services such as banking, financing, insurance, transport, housing construction, entertainment has been made available to the consumers. To shield the purchasers from abuse and to spare them from contaminated and unacceptable merchandise and lacking administrations the Consumer Protection Act came into power.


Section 3 of this Act says the provisions of this Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force. This provision is further made clear in the case. Therefore, the suggestions made by these bodies may be recommendatory but they have a great impact on policy making.


Endnotes

[1]C. Venkatachalam v. Ajitkumar C. Shah, civil appeal no.868 of 2003.

[2]Section 4 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

[3] Rule 3(2) of the Consumer Protection Rules, 1987.

[4] Section 5(1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

[5]Section 7 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

[6]Section 8A(1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

[7]Section 6 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

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