TOPIC- Consumer Protection
The moment a person comes into this would, he starts consuming. He needs clothes, milk, oil, soap, water, and many more things and these needs keep taking one form or the other all along his life. Thus we all are consumers in the literal sense of the term. When we approach the market as a consumer, we expect value for money, i.e., right quality, right quantity, right prices, information about the mode of use, etc. But there may be instances where a consumer is harassed or cheated.
The Government understood the need to protect consumers from unscrupulous suppliers, and several laws have been made for this purpose. We have the Indian Contract Act, the Sale of Goods Act, the Dangerous Drugs Act, the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act, the Indian Standards Institution (Certification Marks) Act, the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, etc. which to some extent protect consumer interests.
However, these laws require the consumer to initiate action by way of a civil suit involving lengthy legal process which is very expensive and time consuming.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted to provide a simpler and quicker access to redressal of consumer grievances. The Act for the first time introduced the concept of ‘consumer’ and conferred express additional rights on him. It is interesting to note that the Act doesn’t seek to protect every consumer within the literal meaning of the term. The protection is meant for the person who fits in the definition of ‘consumer’ given by the Act.
Now we understand that the Consumer Protection Act provides means to protect consumers from getting cheated or harassed by suppliers. The question arises how a consumer will seek protection ?
The answer is the Act has provided a machinery whereby consumers can file their complaints which will be entertained by the Consumer Forums with special powers so that action can be taken against erring suppliers and the possible compensation may be awarded to consumer for the hardships he has undergone. No court fee is required to be paid to these forums and there is no need to engage a lawyer to present the case.
Following chapter entails a discussion on who is a consumer under the Act, what are the things which can be complained against, when and by whom a complaint can be made and what are the relief available to consumers.
Who is a Consumer?
1.2 Section 2(d) of the Consumer Protection Act says that consumer means 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 hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first mentioned person
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