Object & Reasons of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986
An economical development invariably decides the progress of a Nation. And consumers form the crucial element in any forms of trade/ transactions which indirectly contributed to the economy. Thus in order to regulate and to promote the consumer interest, the Consumer Protection Act was legislated, it was legislated on the sole interest of consumers’ protection and it established consumer councils and other authorities for settlement of consumers’ disputes. The act was passed in 1986 and was notified on 1st July 1987. The act mainly focused on giving better and all-round security to consumers by protecting them from various kinds of unethical, unfair trade practices from all three sectors.
The Object of the Consumer Protection Act
The basic principle of the Consumer Protection Act is to protect and promote consumers’ rights. The act ensures six rights to the consumer, “inter alia, to promote and protect the rights of consumers such as-
1. The right to be protected against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to life and property;
2. The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;
3. The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to an authority of goods at competitive prices;
4. The right to be heard and to be assured that consumers interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;
5. The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
6. Right to consumer education.”
These above-mentioned rights are considered inviolable and thus it cannot be compromised by any unjust trade practice. These rights form the basic principle of the act. To achieve the object of the act i.e., to protect the consumers this act first establishes a consumer protection council under the supervisory of the ministry of consumer affairs. And the Supreme Court in a plethora of cases, ruled that consumer’s interest should be protected and stressed that mere technicality or mechanical errors cannot vitiate the rights of the consumers.
Redressal Provided by Consumer Protection Act
Section 9 of the Consumer Protection Act establishes three-tier quasi-judicial redressal agencies to provide speedy justice on the district, state, national levels which are empowered to provide appropriate relief, mostly as compensation.
I. District Consumer Forum
Each district in a state will have a consumer forum. Section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act dictates that a district forum should consist a president and two members; a qualified district Judge will be its president, and among the other two members one shall be a woman who will be appointed by the state consumer commission and they shall be qualified members as mentioned in section 10 of the act. Section 11 of the act restricts the forum’s jurisdiction to its local limits. However, even a corporate office is outside the jurisdiction if its business is within the territory of district forum complaint petition can be filed in the forum. The disputes up to 20 lacks can be filed in the forum.
II. State Consumer Forum
Upon the purview of section 15 aggrieved party of the district forum within the state can appeal in the state consumer commission within 30 days. And a consumer has dispute between 20 lacks and 1 crore can directly approach the commission. As district forum, state commission also consists of three-member, a president and two members; the president will be qualified high court judge and one among the other two members will be a woman and be qualified members as prescribed in section 16 of the act.
III. National Consumer Commission
Dispute above 1 crore shall be entertained, and appeals of the aggrieved party of state consumer commission shall be entertained. The National Commission consists of the president; who shall be qualified supreme court judge and 4 other qualified members as prescribed in section 20 of the act.
The burning issue of a capitalistic economy is the consumer’s ignorance, which creates an excellent opportunity for traders to exploit the consumers. This legislation provides a check and balance and creates accountability against traders. This act structured the commerce field in India to an extent. Still, its awareness needs to be spread, people have to be educated. The honourable Supreme Court of India on numerous instances has instructed the central government to improve the infrastructure of the consumer forum. Thus as a consumer, we do have the additional duty to know about our rights and privileges, to ensure we are not exposed to any unjustifiable trade practices.