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Consumer Protection Act, 1986

A study

Background


Consumer is for the market what air is for living. Consumption is the fuel for production. Considering this, various efforts are done by producers to create demand for goods and services. Powerful and attractive advertisements, packaging, salesmanship etc are believed to create consumer wants an demands

Need for consumer Protection




But many a times consumers are cheated and therefore they need protection. Eighteen years back, United Nations adopted important guidelines for the protection of Consumer Interests and all countries were expected to follow suit. In India the Consumer Protection Act was enacted in the year1986 as a result of a wide spread consumer Movement.

If a consumer is offered inferior products, if prices are exorbitant, if drugs are unsafe or worthless, if the consumer is unable to choose on an informed basis, then his dollar is wasted, his health and safety may be threatened, and national interest suffers. John.F.Kennedy

Purpose of the Act




Better protection and promotion of consumer rights.

Simple , inexpensive and speedy justice to consumers against defective goods , deficient services and unfair and restrictive trade practices.

Quasi-judicial Redressal at district, state and QuasiNational Level.

Rights of the Consumers highlighted by the Act




The Right to Safety to be protected against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to health or life. The Right to Choose to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices: and in those industries where competition is not workable and Government regulation is substituted, an assurance of satisfactory quality and service at fair prices.

The Right to Information to be protected against fraudulent, deceitful or grossly misleading information, advertising, labeling, or other practices, and to be given the facts s/he needs to make an informed choice. The Right to be Heard to be assured that consumer interests will receive full and sympathetic consideration in the formulation of Government policy, and fair and expeditious treatment in its administrative tribunals.

Right to seek redressalredressalin case of a consumer dispute right to voice out their complaint and reinforcement of any of the above mentioned rights.

Right to be educatededucatedMaking people aware of their rights

Who is a Consumer?
 

Section 2(1)d: Any person who buys goods for a consideration that has been paid or partly paid and partly promised to pay or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose. or Hires or avails of services for a consideration or any user of such services but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial purpose.

Analysis


 

Goods and services should have been bought for consideration. Includes a person who uses such goods or services for consideration. Used for consumption and not for resale or commercial use. Can be for self employment also. The person may be an individual, firm, company or a consumer organization.

Goods and services




Sec2(1)i:Goods means goods as defined under the Sale of Goods Act,1930. Every kind of moveable property other than actionable claims and money and includes stocks and shares, growing crops and things attached to and forming part of land which are agreed to be severed before sale or under a contract of sale.

 

Service:It means service of any description made available to potential users like banking, insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, boarding or lodging or both, house construction, entertainment, amusement or other purveying of news or other information. Service does not include the rendering of service free of charge or under a contract of personal service

Advantages under the Consumer Protection Act




The consumer under this law is not required to deposit court fee, which earlier used to deter the consumers to approach the Courts. Lawyers are also not mandatory and the procedures used are simple as compared to the normal courts, which helps in quicker redressal of grievances.

Some examples of consumers


 

 

A person registering for gas connection. A patient undergoing operation with a private hospital A customer using a telephone connection. A student of the institution

Certain cases relating medical field




Medical negligence means deficiency in service performed by a medical practitioner including a physician, surgeon, doctor, nurse etc. It is the failure on the part of the medical practitioner to discharge his duty in accordance with medical standards, which are being practiced by any other competent doctor. However the services rendered by the Government hospitals & charitable hospitals are exempted from the purview of the Consumer Protection Act as the services are rendered at such institutes free of charge.

Medical Service


 

  

 

Medical Negligence would include amongst other acts the following Prescribing the wrong dosage to a patient. Leaving cotton or medical instruments inside the body of a patient after a surgery has been performed. failure to give proper instruction while prescribing medicine. Lack of interest in patients. Lack of proper arrangement to meet an emergency. Usage of wrong medicines. Lack of proper checks to test side effects of various drugs. Therefore, a doctor can be termed negligent if his actions are of such a nature as to imply absence of reasonable skill as compared to the ordinary level of skill required in the profession.

Education


An educational Institution can also be held liable under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Holding of exams, declarations of results are all services under the Act & can be looked into by the consumer courts. Consumer courts have also held that it is not within their jurisdiction to look into whether particular rules in an institutions prospectus are illegal or not. It is important to note that a University conducting public examinations, announcing results, evaluating answer papers, rechecking marks sheets etc, on the application by a student/candidate is not performing a service for hire & there is no question of any service being performed as envisaged under the act. Therefore it may be difficult to maintain any complaint in such cases. Universities are in fact statutory bodies. Where the student could not get his roll number for which he had applied to sit for his exams & as a result of this, he lost a year of his studies, the consumer courts have held that it amounted to a deficiency of service.

Banking Services
      

The Courts have held it to be a deficiency of service where a cheque was wrongly honored where there was non-refund of amount deposited or where there is a deliberate delay in repayment of deposit by the bank are- valid dishonor of Cheques when the account holder has sufficient funds, not enchasing a draft issued by another branch, charging a higher interest rate that what was previously agreed upon, transferring money to another person without the customers directions . Where the bank lost a passbook, it is the banks duty to replace the same Consumer courts are not allowed to go into the area of pricing of services. Consumer courts cannot interfere with the banks decisions with regard to the sanctioning of credit.

Telephone


If your telephone is disconnected without giving you notice, Disconnection of your second telephone for the nonpayment of your bill for the first phone is also a deficiency in service. Delays in shifting your phone to a new location, delays in attending faults, wrong connection of telephone cables, delays in allotment of phone connections

Defect and Deficiency


 

Defect sec2(1)f:It means any fault, short coming or imperfection in the quality, potency, purity standard which is required to be maintained under any law for the time being in force. Deficiency2(1)g:- It means any fault, short coming or imperfection in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained.

Telephone
     

Delays in shifting your phone to a new location, delays in attending faults, wrong connection of telephone cables, delays in allotment of phone connections, omission to print a subscribers name in a telephone directory, these may all be regarded as instances of a deficiency in service If your telephone is disconnected without giving you notice. Disconnection of your second telephone for the nonpayment of your bill for the first phone is also a deficiency in service.

Unfair trade practice




Falsely represents that the goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, quantity, grade, composition , style or model Falsely represents any rebuilt, second hand, renovated, reconditioned or old goods as new goods. Falsely represents that the goods or services have sponsorship, approval, performance, characteristics, accessories, uses or benefits which such goods or services do not have.

Makes a false or misleading representation concerning the need for or the usefulness of any goods or services. Gives to the public any warranty or guarantee of the performance, efficiency, length of life of a product that is not based on adequate test thereof.

Restrictive trade practice




Restrictive trade practice means a trade practice which tends to bring about manipulation of price, or its conditions of delivery or to effect flow of supplies in the market relating to goods and services in such a manner so as to impose unjustified costs and includes Delay beyond a period agreed to by the trader which is likely to lead to rise in prices Any trade practice which requires a consumer to buy, hire or avail of any goods or services as a condition precedent to hiring, buying or availing of such service

Manufacturer
 

Sec2(1)j Manufacturer means any person whoMakes or manufactures any goods or parts thereof or Does not make or manufacture but assembles parts thereof or Puts or causes to put his own mark on any goods made or manufactured by any other manufacturer.

Trader
 

Sec2(1)q Trader in relation to any goods means a person who sells or distributes any goods for sale and includes the manufacturer thereof, and where such goods or distributed in package form, includes the packer thereof A middlemen bringing the buyer and the seller together and receiving any commission is not a trader.

Complainant
  

Means A consumer or Any voluntary consumer association registered under any law. The Central government or the state government which makes a complaint. One or more consumers where there are numerous consumers having the same interest. In case of the death of a consumer, his legal heir or representation

What can we be complaining about


 

 1. 2. 3. 4. 

Any unfair or restrictive trade practice. Any defect in the goods or deficiency in service. Any price that has been charged in excess of:Fixed by the law. Displayed on the goods. Displayed on the price list. Price that has been agreed between them. Goods which are hazardous to life and safety are being offered for sale.

What justice can one get from the consumer courts


   

Removal of defects from the goods Replacement of the goods. Refund of the price paid. Award of compensation for the loss or injury suffered. Discontinuance of unfair and restrictive trade practices. Withdrawal of hazardous goods from being offered for sale To issue corrective advertisement.

Consumer Protection Council




They have been established to protect the interests of the consumers.

   

Classes of Councils:The Central consumer Protection Council The State Consumer Protection Council The District Consumer Protection Council.

Central Consumer Protection Council




Central Consumer Protection Council

Chairman (Minister in Charge of Consumer Affairs)

Official and non official members not more than 150

Consumer Disputes redressal agencies




 1.

2.

3.

They are basically consumer courts to settle consumer Disputes. They are a three tier system comprising of:Consumer disputes redressal forum District forum Consumer disputes redressal commissionstate commission. [SCDRC] National consumer disputes redressal commission National commission [NCDRC]

Where to file a complaint




    

Complaint can be filed at the district forum where the cause of action has arisen or where the branch office of the opposite party is located. Jurisdiction of the Consumer courts:Value of the goods/services/compensation is Upto 20 lacs District forum 20 ---1 crore State Commission Above 1 crore National commission

Procedure on receiving complaint On receiving the complaint in the written form, the forum will refer the complaint to the opposite party within 30 days of making the complaint. Then opposite party will be asked to defend the case within 30 days in case it wants to deny or dispute its allegations. In case the defect in the good cannot be determined without testing. The goods are sent to the appropriate laboratory for testing. The laboratory shall come up within its finding within 45 days The complainant shall have a deposit a fees for the purpose of testing.

On the basis of the findings of the lab test the District forum shall make its remarks. In case any of the parties want to dispute the findings of the lab test they can refute the claims of the same in writing. The forum will give a reasonable opportunity of being heard and shall award justice.

In case of services


On receipt of complaint a copy of the same is forwarded to the opposite party directing them to give their version of the case. On the basis of evidence given by the complainant and the opposite party the forum will award justice. Any default in complying with the order of the district will Invite penalty.

Practice and Procedures


     

 

First understand are you a consumer? Do you know your rights? Your responsibilities? Let the seller beware Caveat Venditor Purchase goods from a reliable shop. Always purchase standard goods with quality marks patented by the govt. such as I.SI, WOOLMARK, AGMARK Dont buy cheap goods-cheap always weeps but dear weeps only once. Always take cash memo or receipt The Guarantee card

     

Be watchful of the fine print. Contract trader before taking action. Notice of complaint Filing of complaint. Drafting of complaint Written statement