The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and even the new Act of 2019 was enacted to provide a simple and quick solution to consumers for their grievances against any deficiency in services or defect in goods. It protects the various rights of the consumers against the seller or service provider.
On the off chance that merchants and makers practice any unlawful exchange, this demonstration ensures their privileges as a purchaser. The essential inspiration of this gathering is to offer a guide to both the gatherings and dispose of long claims.
This Act encompasses all the plethora of goods and services, whether they are from public, private or from cooperative sectors. However, certain exemptions have been made in this regard by the Union Government.
Protection Act covers all goods and services of all public, private, or cooperative sectors, except those exempted by the central government.
The demonstration gives a stage to a customer where they can document their objection, and the discussion makes a move against the concerned provider and remuneration is conceded to the purchaser for the problem he/she has experienced.
The intentions and objects of the Consumer Protection Act are to provide a speedy remedy and for better protection of the interests of consumers.
In simple terminology, a consumer is a person who buys any goods or avails of any service in consideration of current or deferred payment. Such goods or services in question, however, should not be used for commercial purposes
Section 2 (1 ) (d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides:
“Consumer” means any person who-
Buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, under any system of deferred payment, and includes any user of such goods when such use is made with the approval of such person but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or any commercial purpose.
OBJECTIVES OF THE ACT:
1. To provide simple and speedy disposal to the cases by providing quasi-judicial machinery for the redressal of consumer disputes.
2. To promote and protect all the six rights of the consumers which will be discussed later.
3. The act also strives to provide economical and simple procedures for addressing the grievances of the consumer.
4. A consumer dispute redressal forum called the state commission has been set up to settle the disputes of every consumer in all the states of the country.
RIGHTS OF A CONSUMER:
It was President J.F. Kennedy, who in the year 1962, on his address to the United States Congress, heralded the concept of the rights of individuals as consumers, specifically on March 15, 1962. The day is today celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day. The following are some important rights of the consumer are-
1. Right to safety:
This right refers to the right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to the life and property of the consumers. This right has an exceptionally wide extent of utilization, for example, this right is accessible in the space of electrical machines, medical care, vehicle, drugs, lodging, travel and so forth.
These days, every single field has an office for scientists who exploration and trial and dispatch new items and apparatuses as needs are. The greater part of these items is not tried by the makers which end up being unsafe to the buyer.
Therefore, after the implementation of this act, there is a mandate for every field to get all their products that are a danger to life to be carefully tested and verified before releasing those products into the market.
2. Right to Information:
It alludes to one side of a purchaser to be educated regarding the quality, amount, strength, immaculateness, standard and cost of the labour and products being sold by the retailer.
This right is given to the shopper to shield them from the different uncalled for exchange rehearses led by the dealer to procure more benefits. Therefore, it is an obligation on the seller to provide the consumer with all the relevant information about the product he wishes to purchase.
3. Right to Choose:
It is defined in the act as the right to be assured, wherever possible, to have access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices. It is extremely not unexpected to discover one item being sold at various potential costs by various merchants.
This mirrors the time of market contest which is found in practically every one of the nations. Along these lines, it is the right of the multitude of shoppers to buy any item at any value which as indicated by him is awesome. There cannot be a situation where a customer is coerced into purchasing a particular product.
4. Right to be heard:
It is referred to as the right to be heard and to be assured that consumers’ interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums.
This right was presented for a buyer to guarantee that every one of the grumblings and issues of the buyers is heard properly under suitable power.
This is because of this right that almost all the big selling companies have a separate department known as customer service to help the consumers when there is a grievance of the consumer or any complaints regarding the product or service.
5. Right to seek Redressal:
If any consumer has been exploited by the seller or faced any unfair trade practices he can seek redressal i.e. pay, or harms under this right. This right guarantees that every one of the issues of the customers is managed and equity is done to him.
An appropriate redressal system has been set up by the public authority of India such as the consumer courts and forums at the district and national level which is discussed later in this article.
6. Right to Consumer Education:
It is the right of every person who is a resident of India to know about every one of the laws and arrangements identifying with the buyer.
In this manner, it is ensured the material concerning the shopper related laws are effectively accessible all over India yet there is as yet a significant piece of the populace who doesn't know about his laws and rights.
This is the explanation numerous mindfulness programs have been coordinated by the public authority of India, for example, 'Jago grahak Jago' and the camps coordinated by different legal advisors in the far off spaces of the country.
DUTIES OF A CONSUMER:
1. On purchasing goods or hiring of any services, the consumer must pay for the same.
2. While purchasing something he has to check weights, balances, prices etc. and also pay heed carefully to the information on the labels.
3. The consumer must update himself about the various consumer protection schemes.
4. Duty to be cautious while buying and not to fall in the snare of deluding data and commercials.
5. The buyer must know about his privileges and obligations and spreading the attention to the equivalent among others.
6. The consumers must file a complaint if the goods which they purchased are defective.
7. The consumer must not purchase anything from the black markets.
8. Every consumer should secure the bills of the goods purchased or the services availed so that if in the future he finds the goods or services to be defective, a complaint can be filed for such a grievance and prove the same.
REDRESSAL OF GRIEVANCES
Who can file a complaint?
1. A consumer;
2. Any registered voluntary consumer organisation
3. The Central Government or State Government
4. A legal heir or representative
How to file a complaint?
Within 2 years of the cause of action, the complaint must be filed with the Consumer court.
There is no fee for filing a complaint. A person can file a complaint through post or presented by a person or an authorised agent of the person who wants to file a complaint.
Even in the case of an affidavit, stamp papers are not required.
A complaint can be sent by post or presented in person by complaint or his authorised agent.
Usually, the Forums Require 3-5 copies of the complaint.
What information should a Complaint contain?
1. Name and complete address of the complainant
2. Name and complete address of the opposite party or parties as the case may be.
3. Date of purchase/service obtained.
4. Amount paid for consideration.
5. Items of goods with quantities/nature of service.
6. Whether the complaint relates to unfair trade practice/defective goods’ deficient service/charging excess price.
7. Copies of bills/vouchers/receipts and copies of correspondence made, if any.
8. The relief sought-Under the Act.
JURISDICTION OF THE CONSUMER FORUMS UNDER THE ACT OF 1986
1. JURISDICTION OF DISTRICT FORUM:
1. Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the District Forum shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed does not exceed rupees twenty lakhs.
2. A complaint shall be instituted in a District Forum within the local limits of whose jurisdiction:-
(a) the opposite party or each of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, or
(b) any of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides, or carries on business or has a branch office, or personally works for gain, provided that in such case either the permission of the District
Forum is given, or the opposite parties who do not reside, or carry on business or have a branch office, or personally work for gain, as the case may be, acquiesce in such institution; or
(c) the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.
2. JURISDICTION OF STATE COMMISSION:
1. The State Commission has appellate powers. Appeals from the District Forums lie at the State Commission. Parties who are aggrieved from the decisions of the State Commission can appeal to the National Commission.
2. It is a quasi-judicial authority, filled up by judicial and non-official members. District Consumer Forums are bound by the findings or decisions or orders of the National Commission. They have the power of precedent.
3. The State Commission shall have the working hours and working days just like as a State Government Department and a court.
3. JURISDICTION OF NATIONAL COMMISSION:
1. The State Commissions and the District Consumer shall have to follow the decisions of the National Commission. National Commission exercises quasi-judicial authority and is comprised of judicial as well as non-judicial members. It functions as a court.
2. It is the highest authority in the Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies. Appeals from the decisions of the District Forum and State Commission lie at the National Commission. The National Commission is also empowered to initiate Contempt of Court proceedings against any violation of the decisions passed by the National Commissions.
3. The National Commission shall have to work on all the working hours and working days as a Central Government Department Works.
CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019
The 2019 Act was told on 15th July 2020 and brought into impact on 20th July 2020 and has set up shopper gatherings and so forth to settle customer's complaints and matters associated there with it.
This Act was sanctioned fundamentally to determine a huge pendency of customer objections in Consumer Forums and Courts the nation over. The Act characterized the purview of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (CDRCs).
Under the new Act, the National CDRC is enabled to hear protests worth more than Rs. 10 crores and the State CDRC was given purview for the worth of more than Rs 1 crore however not as much as Rs 10 crore. This enabled the District CDRC to engage grumblings where the worth of merchandise or administration is up to Rs 1 crore.
The new features which are added under this act:
1. Commencement of E-filing: The New Act sets down arrangements allowing buyers to document grievances electronically or through the interaction of E-recording. The procedures and Evidence should be possible through video-conferencing accordingly giving procedural simplicity and decreasing issue for the customers. Further, a customer can likewise document the objection from any place he lives as opposed to depending on regional locale.
2. Inclusion of Unfair Trade Practices: The 2019 Act presents Unfair Trade Practices definition, and offers security to Consumers for data they share in certainty. Any revelation must be made as per the arrangements of some other law.
3. Procedure for Appeal altered: The Opposing Party needs to store half of the sum requested by the District Commission before documenting an appeal to the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, rather than the previous most extreme measure of Rs. 25,000/ -, as the old roof has been made repetitive.
4. Inclusion of E-commerce transactions: Under the 2019 Act E-commerce transactions are included for adjudication under direct sales.
5. Mediation as an ADR: Under the 2019 Act Mediation has been introduced as an alternate mode of dispute resolution.
6. Augmented Penalties: In the New Act, the CCPA forces a punishment of up to Rs. 1,000,000 on a maker or an endorser, for a false or beguiling commercial, as likewise a sentence for detainment for as long as 2 years is accommodated. A habitual perpetrator may get punished Rs. 5,000,000 and face detainment of up to 5 (five) years.
7. Redefined Consumer Rights: The new Act of 2019 has revamped the rights of the consumer to the rights of the consumer under Section 2(7). It also distinguished between Consumer of Goods and Consumer of Services. It has also introduced some rights compared to the old Act of 1986.
Highlights of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019:
An aggrieved consumer can file complaints about an imperfection in products or lack of administrations from where she resides, rather than the business environment or home of the vendor or specialist organization. The new law accommodates e-documenting of customer grievances also.
For any claim under the value of Rupees 5 lakhs, then the fee is not required (approximately 3500 USD).
A consumer can conduct her case via video conferencing. Engaging a lawyer is optional.
A concept of product obligation has been presented by the new law, consequently permitting bothered purchasers to guarantee critical remuneration as an alleviation because of the carelessness of the maker or service provider.
A class action can also be initiated by a group of aggrieved parties to economically redress their grievances.
Producers of spurious goods may be punished with imprisonment.
Misleading advertisements may be punished with imprisonment. Endorsement of products without verification of the product details can also be construed as false advertising under Section 2(28).
E-commerce is now tightly regulated, and e-commerce companies are now expected to disclose all relevant product information, including country of origin, and respond to the grievance of consumers within prescribed timelines under Section 2(16).
Settlement of buyer debates through intercession for example with the assistance of an unbiased delegate outside the customer court is energized under the new law, along these lines saving time and assets of questioning gatherings which would somehow or another have been spent on debate goal through a proper instrument.
Consumers now have several protected rights, including the right to safety, information, choice, redressal as well as the right to be heard, to be educated as a consumer, and to a mediated settlement.
Main features of the Act of 2019:
1. The previously known District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum ('DCDRF') has been revamped as District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission ('DCDRC'/'District Commission').
2. The Opposite Party should now store half of the sum requested by the District Commission before leaning toward an appeal to the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission ('SCDRC'/'State Commission') instead of the past roof was of a limit of Rs. 25,000/ -, which has now been discarded.
3. The period of limitation for preferring an appeal to the State Commission from an order of the District Commission has been increased from 30 days under the old Act to 45 days under the Act. The Act has also retained the power to condone such delay.
4. The SCDRC shall now consist of a minimum of 1 President and 4 Members.
5. The original pecuniary jurisdiction of the consumer commissions has now been revised as follows:
a. DCDRC shall be up to Rs. 1 crore;
b. SCDRC from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 10 crores; and
c. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission ('NCDRC'/'National Commission') to be more than Rs. 10 crores.
6. The complainant can now institute a complaint within the territorial jurisdiction of the Commission where the complainant resides or personally works for gain over and above what was provided earlier in the old Act.
7. The arrangements in Sections 49(2) and 59(2) of the Act engage both the State Commission and National Commission to consider any terms of the agreement between the buyer and the specialist co-op/producer by and large, which are out of line to any customer, to be incapable and void. This is another arrangement/power vested upon the SCDRC and the NCDRC which was not a piece of the old Act.
8. There is now a provision for a second appeal to the NCDRC which has been provided for under section 51 clause (3) of the Act if there is a substantial question of law involved.
9. The NCDRC can still exercise its power of revision under section 58 clause (1) sub-clause (b) of the Act and by the SCDRC can exercise the same power under section 47 clause (1) sub-clause (b) of the Act.
10. The power of review can still be exercised by the NCRDC. SCRDC, and DCRDC under Sections 40, 50 and 60 of the new Act.
11. The NCDRC is empowered to hear appeals against orders of the Central Authority and the same is provided for under Section 58 of the Act.
12. The period of limitation for filing a complaint is still 2 years and there is a provision for condonation of delay and the same is provided for under Section 69.
13. Section 70 of the new Act provides for authoritative control of the SCRDC over the DCRDC, and the NCRDC over the SCRDC.
It likewise accommodates an examination concerning any charges against the President and individuals from a specific SCDRC/DCDRC.
The arrangement additionally accommodates accommodation of a request report to the State Government worried alongside a duplicate to the Central Government3 for their needful activity.
14. The provision under Section 71 of the Act confers the power of execution on the commissions as provided Under Order XXI, The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 ('CPC')4 with such limitation as provided in the Act itself.
15. The provision under Section 74 of the Act gives statutory recognition to mediation and provides a mechanism for promoting mediation as a mechanism of redressal for consumer disputes.
16. An action for product liability may now be brought by a complainant against a product manufacturer or a product service provider or a product seller, as the case may be, for any harm caused to him on account of a defective product.
17. The Act via Chapter III accommodates the foundation of a Central Authority to manage matters identifying with baseless exchange rehearses, buyer rights infringement and false/deceiving ads which are biased/inconvenient to the interests of public and customers and to advance, secure and authorize the privileges of buyers as a different class.
The Central Authority will likewise be outfitted with an Investigation Wing which will be going by a Director-General to lead request or examination under the Act at the attentiveness of the Central Authority.
The Consumer Protection Act has ended up being some assistance to the shoppers and shielded them from being misused in the possession of tremendous organizations and well-known brokers.
The merchants and the organizations are as yet chipping away at how to make tremendous benefits and one of the ways is by misusing the buyer. Comparing to this the Legislature and the Judiciary are making changes in the demonstration now and again however the customer himself should be cautious and mindful individuals on the lookout.
The Act is a welcome move as it appears to cover the lacunae of the old Act and it is being presented during a pivotal stage wherein buyers and their privileges should be ensured as the worldwide business sectors are turning out to be increasingly more shopper driven.
The Act vests more force on the District Commission, State Commission while additionally updating their separate financial locales consequently diminishing the responsibility of the National Commission.
With the execution of the arrangements of the Act, the mainstream expression 'purchaser be careful' may be supplanted to 'merchant be careful' or 'producer is careful' if they are found in repudiation of the Act considering the assurance that is being offered to the customers.