There are many acts developed in our country for the benefits of common man but the sad fact is that we are unaware of our rights and the various legislations of our nations. To start with, let us have a look at the various rights we, the consumers of India enjoy. These are stated in the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. A thorough understanding of the various clauses of this act is a must for each one of us as we all are consumers. Knowing this act helps us to understand how to deal with an improper product, where to file a case and how the proceedings are to be dealt with. In this article I have explained about almost all the areas relating to this particular act.
Indian Consumer Protection Act 1986
A customer enjoys lot of benefits in today's market unlike earlier. Almost all business units give top priority to their customers. In addition to it, our government has come up with the Consumer Protection Act to ensure that the interests of the consumers are safeguarded. It also gives us the provision to file a complaint against a particular product and the act has given the provision to establish various councils to settle consumer disputes. This act extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Consumer: As per this act, a consumer can be a person (consumer), one or more consumers representing a group of consumers having the same interest, any voluntary consumer association registered under the Indian Companies Act, 1956 or with any other similar acts of the period and the state or central government. It is to be noted that only these consumers can file a case as per this act in any of its councils. For example: a retail dealer cannot be a complainant as he is not included as a consumer under the act.
The circumstances when a complaint can be made
A complaint under Consumer Protection Act 1986 means a claim by a consumer in writing. The situations where one can raise a complaint are listed below in detail.
Consumer Protection Councils
Two different types of councils are established under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. They are The Central Council and The State Protection Councils. There is one Central Council, which has the Minister of consumer affairs from central government as its chairman along with other members. The main objective of the Central council is to safeguard and to protect the rights of the consumers (mentioned below) of the nation. The State councils are established for every state and it comprises of the consumer affairs Minister of the state as its chairman. The main objective of such councils is to ensure and to protect the rights of the consumers within the state.
Rights of Consumers
It is very much essential for each one of us to be aware of our rights, only then we can take strict action against the traders and manufactures who break the law. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 has established a Central Council to safeguard the below mentioned rights of each and every consumer of the country. Now it is our duty to inform the concerned agency about the unfair practices that we come across.
Consumer Dispute Redressal Agencies
The consumer Protection Act, 1986 has provided provisions for the establishment of various dispute redressal agencies to solve the problems faced by the consumers. On the basis of it, we have the District Forum, established by each State government in each district within its area; the State Commission, established by the State government in its state and the National Commission established by Central government.
District Forum: Any complaint with a claim of compensation up to Rs. 20 Lakhs can be made at the District Forum.
State Commission: Any complaint with a claim of compensation above Rs. 20 Lakhs up to Rs. 1 Crore can be made at the State Commission.
National Commission: Any complaint with a claim of compensation more than Rs. 1 Crore can be made at the National Commission.
However a complaint has to be raised and registered by the concerned party within two years from the date of occurrence of the event. To register a complaint, one need not approach a lawyer; they can submit a written allegation via post, in person or through an authorized agent. While making a complaint, one should give the proper details regarding the complainant and the opposite party, date of purchase, problems or defects faced along with the price of the product, bills or receipt if any and the relief sought for, such as whether to replace the goods, to remove the defects, to pay compensation etc .
If we the consumers understand the above law and fight against the malpractices prevailing in our country, our nation will be a better place to live and the traders will be cautious before indulging in any sort of unfair trade practices. Moreover, we will either get the value for our money or compensation for the same if we approach these agencies to report about the bitter experiences we faced from traders. As we keep quiet, traders take it as an advantage and will indulge into more cheap techniques. Let us not provide them with the surroundings and environment to cheat people and to make money thereby.
The author has tried to make the public aware of the protection available under the COPRA but it is very difficult for an individual consumer to fight with the giant manufacturers, retailers or service providers due to paucity of time, literacy level, financial constraints to fight for his or her rights as a consumer. Moreover now a new generation of e-consumers is emerging rapidly. Act and Law are good but how many consumers can go to the district forums, state forums or national commission. Some of the constraints of the consumers are listed below:
Consumer Constraints to get Justice
Indian consumers do not procure the invoice from the seller and all the payments are made in cash. Even if the Bill or Invoice is procured the purchaser is shown as Cash and it may be quite possible that the seller might be having different Bill books to sell spurious or duplicate products imitating the branded products. There is no provision to punish the producer or seller of spurious products and such sellers and producers go scot free while the consumer remains an unprotected consumer even when COPRA is there. It is not the duty of the individual consumer but the responsibility of the original brand to keep vigilant and get the manufacturer or seller exemplary punishment. They need to evolve a system where genuineness of the product can be verified and such crimes by nexus of sellers and manufacturers have to be heavily punished with confiscation of their selling, distributor and manufacturer establishments promoting duplicate products.
Growing E-Consumers across Globe
With online shopping and selling sites the population of e-consumers is increasing geometrically at a very faster rate and no steps have been taken to protect the e-consumer and India has not yet become the member for settlement of cross border consumer disputes.
Yes this is the very good article which brings out the details of consumer rights in asserting his voice when the company which is trying to sell the products and services fails to keep their promise. I think some companies do care about consumer complaints truly. Once I purchased Colgate Toothpaste and to my surprise I found only air and not tooth paste. Immediately I lodged complaint with customer care. To my surprise a representative came to my home took the complaint tooth paste and gave me the gift packet of Colgate tooth paste with the regret letter. I felt happy over their timely action.
Consumer should file complaint against unfair trade practices or any other exploitation. This act assures the safety of consumer because sometimes few defects cause loss of money or life. Consumer has the rights to know about the quantity, quality and standard of the goods. This act provide better protection of consumers’ interests.