Consumer Protection means to protect and safeguard the rights and interests of customers against any unfair and illegal trade practices by the sellers and producers. The government has made laws and provisions to defend the customers from such unscrupulous and unethical malpractices by the business and provide them with speedy redressal.
In this fast-growing economy, businesses do fraudulent activities to earn more profits and rule the market, to stop such frivolous activities consumer protection is important for customers to be aware of their rights and to be not mislead and exploited by businesses.
From the view of business, consumer protection is important as a consumer is the foundation of any business. It becomes the social and moral obligation of businesses to protect the interest of consumers and to provide them with quality goods and services at the right prices to satisfy their needs and gain goodwill and reputation.
Consumer Protection Act–
- The Consumer Protection law in India was passed by the parliament in 1986 which came into force in July 1987. Consumer protection defines the consumer- “as someone who purchases goods or who avails or hires services”.
- the consumer protection act safeguards the fundamental right of consumers and ensures better living conditions by improving the quality of goods and services.
- The object of consumer protection law in India is to provide better and effective protection against any kind of exploitation to consumers such as defective products, inefficient services, or illegal trade practices and give them a simple and inexpensive quick relief against such grievances.
The Consumer Protection Act provides for the establishment of consumer protection forums and consumer protection councils at the center, state, and district level to protects to promote the rights of consumers and provide them with fair and speedy redressal. The Consumer Protection Act 1986 have given some rights to consumers
The Consumer Protection Act 1986 has given rights to the consumers which includes Individual, Firm, a Hindu Undivided family and a Company to exercise their rights freely.
These rights include-
- right to chose;
- right to be heard;
- right to safety and to be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;
- right to be informed about the quality, , quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price of goods or services;
- right to seek redressal against any unfair trade practices;
- right to consumer education;
- be informed of the quality be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices..
Any complaint under Consumer Protection Act 1986 can be filed by a consumer; or any recognized voluntary consumer association of which the consumer is a member or not; the Central or any State Government; and one or more consumers where numerous consumers are having the same interest, or legal heir or representative in case of death of a consumer.
In the recent, The Consumer Protection Act 2019 came into force on 20th July 2020 which succeeds the old Act of 1986. In the current scenario there is a major shift towards the digital world and with an increase in e-commerce new consumer rules are needed to address consumer grievances of sale through e-commerce. The consumer protection e-commerce rules makes provision for severe penalties and imprisonment for adulteration and for misleading advertisements.
The Amendments in the Consumer Protection Act has widened the scope of the original consumer protection act and also the definition of the consumer which gives more authority and flexibility to consumers in this era of e-commerce and direct selling.
- There is no jurisdiction restriction consumer can file a complaint from anywhere.
- The new act establishes the Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPA) which will act as an advisory body and has the power to institute complaints, prosecute, and investigate any matter of consumer right violation.
- Strict rules relating to e-commerce have been laid down to protect consumers.
- The consumer redressal has been expanded to mediation as a mode of alternate dispute resolution;
- Electronically complaints can be filed or through the e-filling process and video-conferencing for hearing;
- The pecuniary limit has been increased –
- District forum from Rs.20 lakh to1 crores;
- State redressal commission from Rs.1 crore to 10 crores;
- National redressal commission from matters above Rs1 crore to Rs.10 crore.
- For false advertising of product penalty of Rs 1 lakh which exceed up to Rs 5 lakh for second time offender and imprisonment up to 5 years.
- The ceiling of Rs 25000 to be deposited by the opposite party earlier has been changed to 50% by District Commission in case of appeal to State Commission.
- The limitation period of appeal to the State Commission has been increased from 30 days to 45 days.
In this rapidly changing and technologically advancing world where the dependency on online goods and services is increasing the need for new provisions relating to consumer protection was required and crucial to protect consumer interest to deal with modern forms of business, electronic goods, or technological goods. Hence, to keep up with the growing trend of technology and technology-driven services new act was needed.