Answer the following.
1) Who is the consumer? Explain the rights of the consumers.
Ans : The word ‘Consumer’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Consumer’ which means, to eat or to drink. The consumer is the one who consumes or uses any commodity or service available from natural resources or through a market.
A Consumer means any person who buys any goods, hires any service or services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised or under any system of deferred payments.
Some of the rights of consumers are as follows:
a) Right to Safety: This right protects consumers against products, production processes, and services which are hazardous to health or life. It includes concern for consumer’s long-term interests as well as their immediate requirements. According to this right, the consumer must get full safety and protection to his life and health.
b) Right to Information: According to this right, a consumer should be provided with adequate information about all aspects of goods and services like price, name of the manufacturer, contents used, batch number if any, date of manufacture and expiry date, user manual, and safety instruction, etc. This right also enables the consumer to select the right product or service.
c) Right to Choose: According to this right, a consumer should be given full freedom to select an article as per his requirement, liking, and purchasing capacity. The right to choose is related to the concept of a free-market economy. As per this right, the seller can not compel the consumer to buy a particular product and hence monopoly is prevented.
d) Right to be heard: Every business organization should listen and solve the complaints of consumers. According to this right, consumers have the opportunity to voice their complaints to the consumer forum. Consumers also give suggestions to manufacturers or traders on certain matters such as quality, quantity, price, packaging, etc. Nowadays, consumers can file online complaints through the portal or mobile applications.
e) Right to Consumer Education: Every consumer has the right to know about consumer rights and solutions to their problems. This right creates consumer awareness. An aware consumer can make a rational choice of goods and services and protect his rights and interests from the exploitation of unscrupulous businessmen. Thus, consumer education becomes a priority concern.
f) Right to Represent: The act provides an opportunity for individuals and consumer groups to represent consumer’s interests before the consumer forum. The act allows the consumer to be represented by a person who is not a professional advocate. This provision is in recognition of the consumer’s right to represent.
g) Right to Redress:This right enables the consumer to demand repair or replacement or compensation for defective products and for poor services. According to the consumer protection Act, three-tier quasi-judicial consumer dispute redressal machinery is established for the settlement of claims such as the District Commission at the District level, State Commission at the state level, and National
Commission at the national level. Consumers are protected from business malpractices.
h) Right to Healthy Environment:All consumers have a right to a healthy and clean environment.
According to this right, the consumer can demand actions against the pollution causing business organizations. All consumers have the right to a healthy and clean environment in the present and future.
i) Right to Protect from unfair business practices: As per this right, all consumers are protected against unfair business practices such as black marketing, profiteering, faulty weights and measures, exorbitant prices, adulteration, etc.
j) Right against spurious goods: This right is against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to health, spurious, and pose a danger to life itself.
2) Explain the ways and means of Consumer Protection.
Ans: The prevailing judiciary system is not sufficient enough to protect consumers, therefore, there are various ways and means of consumer protection. They are as follows.
a) Lok Adalat: Lok Adalat is an effective and economical system for quick redressal of the public grievances. It can also be referred to as ‘People’s Court’. It is established by the government to settle disputes by compromise. The aggrieved party can directly approach the Adalat with a grievance, and issues are discussed on the spot, and decisions are taken immediately. Resolution of disputes by Lok Adalat gets statutory recognition. e.g. MSEDCL, MSRTC.
b) Public Interest Litigation (Janahit Yachika): Public Interest Litigation means a legal action initiated in a court of law regarding a matter of general public interest. It is a legal facility under which any person can approach the court of law in the interest of society. Its aim is to provide a legal remedy to unrepresented groups of society. The party which is not related to grievance can also file public interest litigation. It is filed in the High Court as well as Supreme Court directly in some cases.
c) Redressal Forums: Under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, a system has been set up to deal with the consumer grievances and disputes at the district, state, and national levels. Any individual consumer or association of consumers can file a complaint with respective commission depending on the value of goods and claim for compensation. The main aim of these commissions is to provide for simple, speedy, and inexpensive redressal of consumer’s grievances.
d) Awareness Programme: To increase the level of awareness among the consumers the Government of India has initiated various publicity measures. State and Central Government regularly publishes journals, brochures, booklets, and various posters depicting the rights and responsibilities of consumers, redressal machinery, etc. Several audio-video programs on consumer awareness are broadcasted on various channels and through social media.
e) Consumer Organizations: Consumer Organizations have been active in India to promote and protect consumer interests.
The consumer movement is well settled in India and helping individuals to seek quick and adequate redressal of their grievances. It is necessary to strengthen consumer movement throughout the
f) Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF): Department of Consumer Affairs has created a consumer Welfare Fund for providing financial assistance to strengthen the voluntary consumer movement, particularly in rural areas. This fund is used for training and research in consumer education, complaint handling, counseling and guidance mechanisms, product testing labs, and so on.
g) Legislative Measures: A number of laws have been enacted in India to safeguard the interest of consumers and protect them from unethical practices of a businessman. Some of these laws are as follows:
● Sale of Goods Act, 1930
● Essential Commodities Act, 1955
● Standard of Weights and Measures Act, 1956
There are a number of laws to safeguard the interests of consumers, but these acts could not provide complete and fair justice to consumers. Therefore, an exclusive Act has been advocated in the form of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019
3) Explain the three-tier quasi-judicial machinery under the Act.
Ans : The three-tier quasi-judicial machinery as follows:
1) District Commission:
Meaning:A consumer dispute redressal commission at each district established by the State the government is known as District Commission.
Territorial Jurisdiction – Territorial Jurisdiction of district commission is the entire district in which it is established.
Monetary Jurisdiction – District Commission shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration does not exceed Rs. one crore.
Appeal – Any person aggrieved by an order made by the District Commission may prefer an appeal against such order to the State Commission within a period of forty-five· days from the date of the order, in such form and manner, as may be prescribed.
2) State Commission:
Meaning: A consumer dispute redressal commission at the state level established by the State government is known as State Commission. It is also called as State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
Territorial Jurisdiction – It can entertain original cases as well as appeals against the order of District Commission is within the geographical limits of the state.
Monetary Jurisdiction – To entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration, exceeds Rs. one crore, but does not exceed Rs. ten crores.
Appeal – Any person aggrieved by an order made by the State Commission may prefer an appeal against such order to the National Commission within a period of thirty days from the date of the order in such form and manner as may be prescribed.
3) National Commission:
Meaning: A consumer dispute redressal forum at the National level established by the Central Government by notification is known as the National Commission. It is also called as the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
Territorial Jurisdiction – It can entertain original cases as well as appeals against the order of State commission is within the geographical limits of the state.
Monetary Jurisdiction – To entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration exceeds Rs. ten crores.
Appeal – Any person, aggrieved by an order made by the National Commission may prefer an appeal against such order to the Supreme Court within a period of thirty days from the date of the order.