'Consumer PROTECTION is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade, competition and accurate information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors. They may also provide additional protection for those most vulnerable in society. Consumer protection laws are a form of government [[regulation which aim to protect the rights of consumers. For example, a government may require businesses to disclose detailed information about products—particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food. Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights, and to the formation of consumer organizations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and get help with consumer complaints.
Who file a Consumer Complaint in India ?
The Consumer Protection Act itself provides a list of persons who can file a complaint under the Act which is described hereunder-
- Firstly a Consumer
- Secondly, Any voluntary Association Registered under the Companies Act, 1956, or under any other law for the time being in force
- Thirdly the Central government or the State Government
- Fourthly one or more consumers, where there are numerous Consumers having the same interest.
Besides the above list the following can also FILE A CONSUMER COMPLAINT:
- Any person who is a beneficiary of the goods/services
- Legal representatives of deceased consumers
- Legal hers of the deceased consumer
- Husband of the consumer
- Relative of the consumer
To provide simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal of consumer disputes, the CPA envisages a 3-tier quasi-judicial machinery at the National, State and District levels.
National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, known as National Commission, deals with complaints involving costs and compensation higher than Rs. One Crore.
State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, known as State Commission, deals with complaints involving costs and compensation higher than Rs. Twenty Lakh and less than Rs. One Crore.
District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forumknown as District Forum, deals with complaints involving costs and compensation less than Rs. Twenty Lakh. Consumers can file different types of complaints depending on their specific grievance by visiting the Consumer Court at the district, state or national level along with the documents required for filing the complaint.
Consumer Protection law and Consumerism
In the pursuit of globalization, India has responded to opening up its economy, removing controls and resorting to liberalisation. The natural corollary of this is that the Indian market should be geared to face competition from within the country and outside. The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 has become obsolete in certain respects in the light of international economic developments relating more particularly to competition laws and there is a need to shift our focus from curbing monopolies to promoting fair competition. A broad definition of competition is a situation in the market in which firms or sellers independently strive for the buyers’ patronage in order to achieve a particular business objective. The law aims to promote healthy competition. It bans anti-competitive agreements between firms such as agreements to fix prices or to carve up markets, and it makes it illegal for businesses to abuse a dominant market position.
Consumer Laws in India
Section 2 (d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, defines ‘consumer’ as any person who-
(i) buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment when such use is made with the approval of such person, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose; or
(ii) hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who 1[hires or avails of] the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payments, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first-mentioned person.
In our day to day life we become consumer through buying goods or services. In the era of science and technology globalization, urbanization and modernization developed rapidly, which resulted into vast competition in market. The traditional view of buying goods and particular services changed and many products, services, and professions came under widened scope of consumer law. As a consumer we have much concern about the money, choice, health and safety of the life. Market is always dominated by the sellers and their attitude towards consumer as weaker section. In last few years’ market is found to be influenced by the false, misleading advertisements or representations, bargaining, offering gifts, prizes, contests and hoardings attracting public for product or services.