Introduction to Consumer Protection in India

CourtsKeywords:- Consumer- Advertisement

Introduction

Under the provisions of the Consumer Protection  Act, 1986  a three-tier quasi-judicial mechanism at the District, State and National levels has been put up to provide settlement of  consumer disputes-

At the district level it is called District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (District Forum). It has jurisdiction to entertain consumer complaints where the value of goods/services including compensation claimed , if any is  up to Rs. 20 Lakhs.

At the state level it is known as  State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (State Commission). It has jurisdiction to entertain consumer complaints where the value of goods/services and compensation claimed if any upto Rs. 1 Crore and appeals against orders of District Forum.

 At the national level, It is called the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. It has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods/services including compensation claimed, if any exceeds Rs. 1 Crore and appeals against the order of State Commissions.

An appeal could be preferred to the Supreme Court within 30 days against the impugned order passed by the National Consumer Disputes Commission.

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Click here for full commentary on Consumer Protection Act 1986

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Key features of the Act

Under this Act, a Consumer Complaint could be filed against a trader or service provider for an unfair trade practice, a restrictive trade practice,, or Deficiency in service or Goods.

  1. 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 but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial purposes;

Explanation.— For the purposes of this clause, “commercial purpose” does not include use by a person of goods bought and used by him and services availed by him exclusively for the purposes of earning his livelihood by means of self-employment;

  1. Consumer dispute” means a dispute where the person against whom a complaint has been made, denies or disputes the allega­tions contained in the complaint.

3. “complaint” means any allegation in writing made by a complain­ant that—

(i)   an unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice has been adopted by any trader or service provider;

(ii) the goods bought by him or agreed to be bought by him; suffer from one or more defects;

(iii)  the services hired or availed of or agreed to be hired or availed of by him suffer from deficiency in any respect;

(iv)  a trader or service provider, as the case may be,  has charged for the goods or for the service mentioned in the com­plaint a price in excess of the price –

(a)  fixed by or under any law for the time being in force

(b)  displayed on the goods or any package containing such goods ;

(c)  displayed on the price list exhibited by him by or under any law for the time being in force;

(d)    agreed between the parties;

(v)         goods which will be hazardous to life and safety when used or being offered for sale to the public,–

(A)  in contravention of any standards relating to  safety of such goods as required to be complied with, by or under any law for the time being in force;

(B)    if the trader could have known with due diligence that the goods so offered are unsafe to the public;

(vi)        services which are hazardous or likely to be hazardous to life and safety of the public when used, are being offered by the service provider which such person could have known with due diligence to be injurious to life and safety;

4.Deficiency” means any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inade­quacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service;

5. Unfair trade practice” means a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or unfair or deceptive practice including any of the following practices, namely;

(1)   the practice of making any statement, whether orally or in writing or by visible representation which,—

(i)   falsely represents that the goods are of a particular standard, quality, quantity, grade, composition, style or model;

(ii)  falsely represents that the services are of a particular standard, quality or grade;

(iii)  falsely represents any re-built, second-hand, reno­vated, reconditioned or old goods as new goods;

(iv)  represents that the goods or services have sponsor­ship, approval, performance, characteristics, accesso­ries, uses or benefits which such goods or services do not have;

(v)   represents that the seller or the supplier has a spon­sorship or approval or affiliation which such seller or supplier does not have;

(vi)  makes a false or misleading representation concern­ing the need for, or the usefulness of, any goods or services;

(vii) gives to the public any warranty or guarantee of the performance, efficacy or length of life of a product or of any goods that is not based on an adequate or proper test thereof;

Provided that where a defence is raised to the effect that such warranty or guarantee is based on adequate or proper test, the burden of proof of such defence shall lie on the person raising such defence;

(viii)makes to the public a representation in a form that purports to be—

(i)   a warranty or guarantee of a product or of any goods or services; or

(ii)  a promise to replace, maintain or repair an article or any part thereof or to repeat or continue a service until it has achieved a specified result, if such purported warranty or guarantee or prom­ise is materially misleading or if there is no reasonable prospect that such warranty, guaran­tee or promise will be carried out;

(ix)  materially misleads the public concerning the price at which a product or like products or goods or services, have been or are, ordinarily sold or provided, and, for this purpose, a representation as to price shall be deemed to refer to the price at which the product or goods or services has or have been sold by sellers or provided by suppliers generally in the relevant market unless it is clearly specified to be the price at which the product has been sold or services have been provided by the person by whom or on whose behalf the representation is made;

(x)  gives false or misleading facts disparaging the goods, services or trade of another person.

Explanation.For the purposes of clause (1), a statement that is—

(a)  expressed on an article offered or displayed for sale, or on its wrapper or container; or

(b) expressed on anything attached to, inserted in, or accompanying, an article offered or displayed for sale, or on anything on which the article is mounted for display or sale; or

(c)     contained in or on anything that is sold, sent, delivered, transmit­ted or in any other manner whatsoever made available to a member of the public,

shall be deemed to be a statement made to the public by, and only by, the person who had caused the statement to be so expressed, made or contained;

(2) permits the publication of any advertisement whether in any news­paper or otherwise, for the sale or supply at a bargain price, of goods or services that are not intended to be offered for sale or supply at the bargain price, or for a period that is, and in quantities that are, reasonable, having regard to the nature of the market in which the business is carried on, the nature and size of business, and the nature of the advertisement.

Explanation .For the purpose of clause (2), “bargaining price” means—

(a) a price that is stated in any advertisement to be a bargain price, by reference to an ordinary price or otherwise, or

(b)     a price that a person who reads, hears or sees the advertisement, would reasonably understand to be a bargain price having regard to the prices at which the product advertised or like products are ordinarily sold;

(3)   permits—

(a) the offering of gifts, prizes or other items with the intention of not providing them as offered or creating impression that something is being given or offered free of charge when it is fully or partly covered by the amount charged in the transaction as a whole;

(b) the conduct of any contest, lottery, game of chance or skill, for the purpose of promoting, directly or indirectly, the sale, use or supply of any product or any business interest;

(3A) Withholding from the participants of any scheme offering gifts, prizes or other items free of charge, on its closure the information about final results of the scheme.

Explanation. — For the purposes of this sub-clause, the participants of a scheme shall be deemed to have been informed of the final results of the scheme where such results are within a reasonable time, published, prominently in the same newspapers in which the scheme was originally advertised;

(4)   permits the sale or supply of goods intended to be used, or are of a kind likely to be used, by consumers, knowing or having reason to believe that the goods do not comply with the standards prescribed by competent authority relating to performance, composition, contents, design, constructions, fin­ishing or packaging as are necessary to prevent or reduce the risk of injury to the person using the goods;

(5)   permits the hoarding or destruction of goods, or refuses to sell the goods or to make them available for sale or to provide any service, if such hoarding or destruction or refusal raises or tends to raise or is intended to raise, the cost of those or other similar goods or services.

(6)   manufacture of spurious goods or offering such goods for sale or adopts deceptive practices in the provision of services.

(2)        Any reference in this Act to any other Act or provision thereof which is not in force in any area to which this Act applies shall be construed to have a reference to the corresponding Act or provision thereof in force in such area.

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Department of Consumer Affairs ( GOI) 

NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION

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.

The petition of appeal from an order made by the National Disputes Redressal Commission (hereinafter referred to as “The National Commission”) under sub-clause (i) of clause (a) of section 21 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (69 of 1986) shall, subject to the provisions of sections 4, 5 and 12 of the Limitation Act, 1963 (36 of 1963) be presented by an aggrieved person within thirty days from the date of the order sought to be appealed against


COMMENTARY ON  CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT ( Supplied by the National Commission)

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Misleading Advertisement and Consumer Complaint Devider

Regulators in the field of Consumer grievance 

  • Directorate of Marketing and Inspection
    The Directorate of Marketing and Inspection (DMI) is a Government of India Organization under the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation (DAC) that implements agricultural marketing policies and programmes. More…
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
    The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments. FSSAI has been created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. More…

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)

The activities of BIS consists of the process of formulating, issuing and implementing standards. Standards have always been closely connected with exchange of goods and services between suppliers and consumers. Bureau of Indian Standards has provided traceable and tangible benefits to economy in a number of ways – providing safe, reliable, quality goods; minimizing health hazards to consumers; promote exports and imports substitute; control over the proliferation of varieties etc. Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body has been successfully promoting and nurturing standards movement within the country since 1947. BIS came into existence on 01 April 1987 through an Act of Parliament dated 26 November 1986. It took over the staff, assets, liabilities and functions of the erstwhile Indian Standards Institution (ISI) with an enlarged scope and enhanced powers for harmonious development of activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. More [ Click]

CENTRAL DRUGS STANDARD CONTROL ORGANIZATION

Central Drugs Standard Control Organization if a Government Organization is responsible for approval of licenses of specified categories of Drugs. Central Drugs Standard Control Organization Head quarter is located at FDA Bhawan, Kotla Road, New Delhi 110002 and functions under the Directorate General of Health Services. Under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, the regulation of manufacture, sale and distribution of Drugs is primarily the concern of the State authorities while the Central Authorities are responsible for approval of New Drugs, Clinical Trials in the country, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs, coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organisations and providing expert advice with a view of bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. More[Click]

Education

• Department of School Education & Literacy
The Department of School Education & Literacy is responsible for development of school education and literacy in the country.

• Department of Higher Education
The Department of Higher Education takes care of what is one of the largest Higher Education systems of the world, just after the United States and China. More[Click]

Real Estate

The Ministry of Urban Development is the apex authority of Government of India at the national level to formulate policies, sponsor and support program, coordinate the activities of various Central Ministries, State Governments and other nodal authorities and monitor the programs concerning all the issues of urban development in the country. More[Click]

Transport

An apex organisation under the Central Government, is entrusted with the task of formulating and administering, in consultation with other Central Ministries/Departments, State Governments/UT Administrations, organisations and individuals, policies for Road Transport, National Highways and Transport Research with a view to increasing the mobility and efficiency of the road transport system in the country. e Ministry has two wings: Roads wing and Transport wing. More[Click]

Financial Services

The mandate of the Department of Financial Services covers the functioning of Banks, Financial Institutions, Insurance Companies and the National Pension System. More[Click]                    Go to  RBI  site

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Compilation of Consumer cases [Govt of India]

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