CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986

Introduction

Consumer Protection Act, of 1986 seeks to promote and protect the interest of consumers against deficiencies and defects in goods or services. It also sought to secure the rights of a consumer against unfair or restrictive trade practices this Act was passed by the Indian parliament and came into force on December 1986.

“An Act to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

Consumer Rights

Right to safety

Right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services, which are hazardous to life and property. The purchased goods and services should not only meet their immediate needs but also fulfill long-term interests. Before purchasing, consumers should insist on the quality of the products and the guarantee of the products and services. They should preferably purchase quality marked products such as ISI, AGMARK, etc

Right to choose

This means the right to be assured, wherever possible of access to a variety of goods and services at a competitive price. In the case of monopolies, it means the right to be assured of satisfactory quality and service at a fair price. It also includes the right to basic goods and services. This is because the unrestricted right of the minority to choose can mean a denial for the majority of its fair share. This right can be better exercised in a competitive market where a variety of goods are available at competitive prices

Right to be informed

The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price of goods so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices. The consumer should insist on getting all the information about the product or service before making a choice or a decision. This will enable him to act wisely and responsibly and also enable him to desist from falling prey to high-pressure selling techniques

Right-to-consumer education

This means the right to acquire the knowledge and skill to be an informed consumer throughout life. Ignorance of consumers, particularly of rural consumers, is mainly responsible for their exploitation. They should know their rights and must exercise them. Only then real consumer protection can be achieved with success.

Right to be heard

Consumer interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums. It also includes the right to be represented in various forums formed to consider the consumer’s welfare. The Consumers should form non-political and non-commercial consumer organizations which can be given representation in various committees formed by the Government and other bodies in matters relating to consumers

Right to Seek redressal

Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers. It also includes the right to fair settlement of the genuine grievances of the consumer. Consumers must make complaints for their genuine grievances. Many times their complaint may be of small value but their impact on society as a whole may be very large. They can also take the help of consumer organizations in seeking redressal of their grievances.

Types of Consumer Courts

COPRA provides for the formation of consumer courts, under the Act there are three tiers of Consumer Courts they are as follows:

District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum (DCDRF):

The DCDRF operates at a district level and takes on any consumer dispute where the appellant’s claim for compensation does not exceed 20 lakh rupees.

State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (SCDRC):

The SCDRC operates at a state level and takes on any consumer dispute where the appellant’s claim for compensation exceeds the amount of 20 lakhs but does not exceed 1 crore rupee.

National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC):

The NCDRC is the apex court and takes on any consumer dispute where the appellant’s claim for compensation exceeds the amount of 1 crore rupees.

Functions

  • Advisory role to ministers of general consumer issues.
  • Formulation and implementation of consumer protection policies
  • Carry out an investigation upon the complaint of an aggrieved consumer into the selling of goods or provision of service so as to determine whether the complaining consumer was genuinely aggrieved.
  • Carry out an investigation of its own initiative.
  • Promote the development of organizations formed for the protection of consumers
  • Collect, analyze, and publish information on any trade or business.
  • Educate consumers on their rights
  • Resolve disputes between consumers and providers
  • Carry such functions as the minister may direct from time to time.

Jurisdiction

The jurisdictions of the courts are based on the hierarchy of the courts;

1. Pecuniary Jurisdiction:

  • The District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum has the pecuniary jurisdiction of up to an amount that does not exceed 20 lakhs.
  • The State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has the pecuniary jurisdiction where the claim exceeds 20 lakhs but does not exceed 1 crore rupees.
  • The Nation Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has pecuniary jurisdiction where the claim exceeds the amount of 1 crore rupees.

2. Territorial Jurisdiction:

Territorial jurisdiction is to be taken into consideration after establishing pecuniary jurisdiction. A complaint may be filed in the court that is within those local limits where;

  • When the opposite party voluntarily resides in or works in those local limits.
  • Where the cause of action arises from.

To determine where the cause of action arises you can apply the same laws applicable to contract law.

  • Territorial jurisdiction when a transaction was done online.

Transactions done online effectively negate territorial jurisdiction. In this case, territorial jurisdiction is in any of the multiple places the cause of action arises, which also includes where the appellant resides.

3. Appellate Jurisdiction:

  • If a consumer is not satisfied with the decision made by the district forum they may make an appeal to the state commission.
  • If the consumer is aggrieved by the decision made by the state commission they may appeal to the national commission.
  • If a consumer is not satisfied with the decision made by the national commission they may approach the Supreme Court for an appeal.

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