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Indian Government Innovative and Magnificent Steps Towards Consumer Awareness, Education and Protect

The issues relating to consumer welfare affects the entire people around us, since everyone is a consumer in one way or the other John F. Kennedy[1] rightly stated that “Consumers, by definition, include us all. They are the largest economic group in the economy, affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. Two-thirds of all spending in the economy is by consumers. But they are the only important group in the economies, who are not effectively organized, whose views are often not heard”.

So, from this statement one should agree that all of us are consumers and there is no society without consumers because all human beings, who live in an organized society are either consumers of goods or services or a consumers of both either directly or indirectly, more over from the moment a person comes into mothers womb and to this world he starts consuming. Basically, without consumers there will be no economical activities.

All the people with their limited resources would like to fulfill their needs and wants and try to get maximum satisfaction; by this they create demand for goods and services. In the absence of their demand, producers would lack a key motivation to produce. Hence, one can say that consumer plays an important role in the economy of any nation, which allows us to survive and thrive.

Here it is also very important to remember valuable words said by our father of the nation Gandhiji in the light of the importance of consumer as" A customer (consumer) is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us, we are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work - he is the purpose of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to serve him."[2]

So, from the above it is clear that in one way Consumer is sovereign and customer is the king and at the same time because of various reasons these concepts are nothing more than myths in the present scenario particularly in the developing societies like India for various reasons.

But Indian government recognized the importance of consumer welfare and to ensure consumer welfare it has been working on this issue on various dimensions like consumer protection with legal measures, education and awareness programmes etc. Ensuring consumer welfare is the responsibility of the government. Accepting this, policies have been framed and the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, was introduced.

A separate Department of Consumer Affairs was also created in the Central and State Governments to exclusively focus on ensuring the rights of consumers as enshrined in the Act. This Act has been regarded as the most progressive, comprehensive and unique piece of legislation. In the last international conference on consumer protection held in Malaysia in 1997, the Indian Consumer Protection Act was described as one “which has set in motion a revolution in the fields of consumer rights, the parallel of which has not been seen anywhere else in the world.”

The special feature of this Act is to provide speedy and inexpensive redressal to the grievance of the consumer and provide consumer relief of a specific nature and award compensation wherever appropriate.The aim of the Act is also to ensure the rights of the consumer, viz. the right of choice, safety, information, Redressal, public hearing and consumer education.

To achieve this goals Indian government had proposed and even made several amendments to Act and at present government of India has proposed to bring about a new law“Consumer protection Bill, 2015”by which it would like to implement the principle of Caveat Venditor which means let the seller be beware and Consumer is the king.

Historical background
In the early days of industry, companies could afford to ignore consumer wishes because there was so much demand for their goods and services. As a result, they were often able to command high prices for products of poor quality. In those days the principle of Caveat emptor[3]played a vital role.

Later, in modern period, industrialization, globalization, liberalization and privatization have transformed the nations and world economy into a vibrant, rapidly growing consumer market. As a result, the markets are flooded with different kinds of goods and services and importance of consumer increasing day by day. Modern technological developments have made a great impact on the quality, availability and safety of goods and services but unfortunately the consumers are still victims of unscrupulous and exploitative trade practices of the sellers and the producers.

Consumers have been facing huge problems relating to defective goods, deficiency in services, food adulteration, spurious goods, hoarding, use of deceptive and fractional weights, late deliveries, variations in the contents of the pack, misleading advertisements, hidden price components, price discrimination, ATM and credit card frauds, financial frauds, real estate problems and problems related to public utilities. These problems arise because unscrupulous sellers take an unfair advantage of the ignorance and helplessness of the consumers. More over because of lack of awareness, cohesiveness and lack of effective organizations to voice their concerns, a consumer has remained a faceless, voiceless.

In view of the emerging global markets and concerns for good governance coupled with rising expectations of the people for better services, quality goods, availability of choice and value for money, there is a national as well as universal emphasis and consumer movements for protection and promotion of Consumers rights and interests has been increasing day by day. In fact the concept of consumer protection is as old as consumer exploitation.

From the history one has to agree that even in ancient period society consumer protection was sought to be promoted through religious texts, principles of ethics and morals and judgments of kings. States also provided punishments for malpractices in business by traders.[4]Best example for this is Roman kingdom and India[5].[6]

In the history of consumer protection 15th March 1962 is a remarkable day.[7]On that day, President John F. Kennedy of U.S. called upon the U.S. Congress to accord its approval to the Consumer Bill of Rights. They are (i) right to choice; (ii) right to information, (iii) right to safety and (iv) right to be heard.

President Gerald R. Ford[8] added one more right i.e. right to consumer education. Further other rights such as right to healthy environment and right to basic needs (Food, Clothing and Shelter) were added. In memory of that day every year the 15th of March is observed as the World Consumer Rights Day.

Later UN General Assembly on April 9, 1985 adopted a set of general guidelines regarding protection of consumer and it advised its member countries to adopt these guidelines through policy changes or law. By this so many countries started to enacted consumer protection laws.

India being a member country in UN and in furtherance of continuous demand from various groups for a specific consumer protection legislation Indian parliament enacted  the consumer protection law, 1986 even though there are several Acts addressing consumer protection related provisions.[9]This Act received assent of the president on 24thDecember, so in commemoration of that day India has been celebrating theNational Consumer Rights Day.[10]

From the above one can find that there has been numerous efforts taking by national and at international level to provide protection to consumers through legal frame work by providing numerous rights, besides this nations, voluntary organizations and some individuals making numerous efforts to create consumer empowerment through public and private campaigns, workshops, advertisements, through formal and informal education and more importantly through consumer movements etc.

An aware consumer is an asset to the society, so, an enlightened consumer is needed, and it is possible through proactive support of the government, business organizations, Educational Institutions – Schools, Colleges, Universities and Research Institutions, organizations of Civil Society and more importantly by individual efforts. So one should first understand that consumer protection is a socio-economic and legal movement, it will be successful through consumer education and awareness, which helps the consumer himself as well as his fellow member in many ways.An aware consumer not only protects himself from exploitation but induces efficiency, transparency and accountability in the entire manufacturing and services sector.

Hence, one can say that consumer awareness and education is the main building block for consumer protection. An enlightened consumer is an empowered consumer. Realizingthe importance of consumer empowerment, it is the need of the hour to accord top priority to consumer education and awareness for consumer protection by people as well as by nations.

Role of consumer education and awareness in protection of rights of consumer

Consumer education and awareness support consumers in their attempts to organize their everyday lives in a sustainable way and it creates understanding of their role as actors in the economic system and how and to what extent they can influence the economy, the environment and the society through their individual consumer behavior to create a better society for all of us.

Consumer Education is concerned with educating people with the skills, attitudes, and knowledge required for living in a consumer society.

“Consumer awareness” means creating awareness of a consumer towards his rights and duties.

Consumers should have education and awareness regarding their protection to achieve maximum satisfaction with their limited resources and to have motivation for saving of scarce resources, to protect themselves as well as his fellow members from exploitation and to control over consumption of harmful goods and services, to have knowledge regarding solution methods, if there is any problem aroused and more importantly to construct healthy society.

Initiatives by Government towards Consumer Protection, Awareness and Education in India
In a country like India, despite numerous efforts, consumer protection and consumerism is still in at infancy, given the scenario of economic disparity and level of education and ignorance, educating consumers, remains a gigantic task. This calls for concerted efforts from every one. Government, some voluntary organizations as well as activists have taken initiatives for creating consumer education and awareness in the country.

Government of India has taken up number of initiatives for providing protection to consumers through law and creating consumer awareness in the country, some of them are.

1. Consumer Protection Act
India has been a pioneer in consumer advocacy with the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, a path breaking legislation. The existing Act provides the legislative framework to promote and protect the rights of consumers and three-tier quasi-judicial consumer disputes redressal machinery at the District, State and National levels, popularly known as Consumer Courts. The consumer courts adjudicate complaints relating to defects in goods and deficiencies in services and are meant to provide simple, inexpensive and speedy redressal of consumers' grievances. The existing Act also provides for establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at the Central, State and District levels to function as Advisory Bodies on consumer advocacy.[11]These bodies assigned some objects to promote and protect consumer rights; among them consumer educations is also one of the rights.[12]It is interesting to note that the Act doesnt 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.[13]Even today to get protection one should depend on judicial interpretations for proper understanding of the word consumer. So, to avoid this, the present government of India has proposed to bring about a new law “Consumer protection Bill, 2015” by which it would like to implement the principle of Caveat Venditor which means let the seller be beware and Consumer is the king.

Some of the cardinals of Consumer Protection Act, 1986
·The Consumer Protection Act 1986 was established with the objective to provide justice which is less formal and involve less paper work, give justice in minimum delay and with incurring less expense. The consumer protection act 1986 has generated litigants by providing the basic consumer rights[14]are: Right to safety, Right to Information, Right to Choose, Right to Heard, Right to Redress, Right to Basic Needs, Right to Consumer Education,[15]and Right to Healthy Environment.

·The novelty of the consumer protection act, 1986 is the inclusion of both goods and services within the jurisdiction. The consumer can bring a suit for defective commodities as well as for deficiency of services.

·The consumer protection act, 1986 also liberalized right procedural requirement and introduced simple and easy methods of access to justice to proceed under consumer protection act 1986, the consumer need only pay a nominal fee and need not send any notices to the opposite party.

·Another major procedural flexibility is if the consumer prefers he can represent himself.

·The consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies the national commission, the state commission and the district forum are working together in a way that is revolutionizing the present Indian legal system and challenging the traditional system of delivering justice.

·The provisions of the Act are compensatory in nature.

·The Act also provides for setting up of consumer protection councils at the central, state and the district levels, which are set up as advisory bodies to promote and protect the rights of the consumers.

Salient features of the Consumer Protection bill, 2015

With a view to widen the ambit and amplify the scope of the Consumer Protection Act and to modernise the legislation on consumer protection to keep pace with the changes in markets, to ensure fair, equitable and consistent outcomes for consumers, to enable executive intervention in the nature of class action both to prevent consumer detriment and to provide redress to consumers, it has been felt necessary to replace the existing Consumer Protection Act, 1986 by introducing a fresh Bill, namely, the Consumer Protection Bill, 2015.

Some important features of the bill are
·The Bill aimed to replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The Bill enforces consumer rights, and provides a mechanism for redressal of complaints regarding defect in goods and deficiency in services.

·The Bill contains a few new definitions of certain key terms like Advertisement[16], Claimant[17], Harm[18], Mediation[19], Product liability[20]; Unfair Contract[21]Unsafe Goods[22]; etc. All these new terms that have been added, are of paramount importance in securing better protection and justice to consumers, apart from reducing any scope for unnecessary litigation in regard to scope and ambit of these words in the adjudicatory process.

·The bill widens the scope ofComplaintby providing an option to make a complaint by electronic means of communication.

·If a consumer suffers an injury from a defect in a good, he may file a claim ofproduct liabilityagainst the manufacturer. The consumer must establish seven conditions in order to prove such a claim.

·The Bill classifiessix contract terms as unfair. These cover terms such as (i) payment of excessive security deposits; (ii) disproportionate penalty for a breach ; (iii) unilateral termination without cause; (iv) one which puts the consumer at a disadvantage.

·The Bill empowers consumers to file their complaints in Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions that have Jurisdiction over the place of their residence. Thus, this provision enables a consumer to file his or her complaint in the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission having territorial Jurisdiction over his/her place of residence[23].

·This bill proposed to establish consumer welfare fund
As per the regulations of consumer affairs and distribution ministry, India in the year 2014 there should be a consumer protection fund to educate and create among consumers under state authority. This was proposed to establish under 2015 bill which one cannot find in 1986 Act.

·This bill also proposed to enhance penalties
-If a person does not comply with orders of the district, state or national commissions, he may face imprisonment up to three years, or a fine up to Rs 50,000, or both.

-If a person does not comply with an order issued by the Consumer Protection Authority, he may face imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to Rs 20 lakh, or both

-The Authority may also impose penalties with regards to the advertisement and production of food. The penalty for publishing a false advertisement would be a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh. The penalty for the manufacture, sale, storage, distribution or import of food containing extraneous matter would be a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.

·The bill, 2015 proposed to establish several new authorities[24] like,
-Consumer Dispute Redressal Commissions (Quasi-Judicial body)
The proposed bill proposed for establishment of Consumer Dispute redressal commissions, which is a quasi judicial body at district[25], state[26]and at national[27]level with functions and powers to adjudicate disputes related to defective goods and deficient services, based on their value[28].

-Consumer Protection Authority (Regulator body)
The proposed bill proposed for establishment of Consumer Protection Authority as regulatory body at Central[29]and regional levels[30] to perform functions like Inquire, investigate into complaints, and launch prosecution in a court or commission; and with powers to issue safety notices and pass orders in relation to recall of goods, reimbursement of prices, unfair practices, misleading advertisements, unfair contracts, etc.; it also has power to impose penalties, including fine.

-Consumer Protection Council (Advisory body)
The proposed bill proposed for establishment of Consumer Protection Council as an advisory body at district[31], state[32]and at national[33]level with a view to promote and protect (six) consumer rights[34].

-Mediation cells (Alternate dispute redressal)[35]
The proposed bill also proposed for establishment of Medication Cells as alternate dispute redressal. It is in fact an innovative step. It proposed it to establish at the central, state and district levels as prescribed by respective governments with a view to Settle disputes by a mediator (except in cases of grave threats to life, physical or mental injuries).

Like above Indian government has proposed to bring about a new law, viz; “Consumer protection Bill, 2015”, with an aim toprovide for adequate protection of the interests of consumers and for prevention of unfair trade practices and for the said purposes to make provisions for establishment of the Consumer Protection Councils and other authorities for better administration and for timely and effective settlement of consumers' disputes and for matters connected therewith.However the bill is not free from lacunas, many are criticising this bill on various issues they are as follows.

Some of the lowlights of the bill
·Executive supervision on the commissions could violate the principle of separation of powers.
·Composition of the District Commission could also violate principles of separation of powers.
·Appointment of technical members in the national, state and district commissions is not clear.
·Unreasonable burden of proof on consumer to claim product liability.
·Conditions for establishing a product liability claim for services not specified.
·The bill brings online consumers in the ambit of Consumer Protection Bill, 2015 but it fails to give a proper definition of e-commerce.
·A serious issue with respect to proposal for a mediation mechanism may be an option but unfortunately the act of the matter today the ground reality today is the mediation has become the de facto norm in most consumer protection forums and this is perhaps at the expense of hurting people, one will actually like to say that this is an abdication of traditional responsibility.
·Lack of infrastructure facilities in all consumer forums.

2. A separate Department to Consumer Affairs[36]
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)[37]is one of the two Departments under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution. It was constituted as a separate Department in June 1997 as it was considered necessary to have a separate Department to administer the policies for consumer cooperatives, monitoring prices, availability of essential commodities, consumer movement in the country and give a fillip to the nascent consumer movement in the country. This department is also responsible to educate and to create awareness among consumers in India for that purpose the department of consumer affairs had taken numerous initiatives and implementing them in an appreciable manner. Some of them are
i.Multi Media Publicity Campaign
Multi-media publicity campaign are being undertaken through print and electronic media by the Department of Consumer Affairs and the role of different departments on the issues that are directly relevant to such as ISI, Hallmark,Labelling, MRP, Weights and Measuresetc,. and regarding new emerging areas such as telecom, real estate, credit cards, financial products, pharmaceuticals, Insurance, travelservices, medicines etc. are under taken either through joint campaigns or joint consultations with the concerned Departments.
ii.Creating awareness through Advertisements
a) Advertisements in Print and Electronic media
Print and Electronic media are considered to be the most common, powerful and preferred medium for mass communication, by recognizing this the department of consumer affairs in the name of Jago Grahak Jago has been giving advertisements to create awareness among public regarding consumerism.

b) Advertisements in journals
The Department has entered into a tie-up with Publication Division under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for displaying advertisements in the journals brought out by the division such as Yojana, Krukshetra, Bal Bharti, Aajkal and their regional editions. By this department focused to publish articles on consumer awareness in these magazines keeping in view about their target readership.

c) Advertisements in Exhibitions and Trade fairs
Exhibitions and Trade Fairs are also used as a tool for showcasing the consumer awareness initiatives of the Department. The Department participated in the India-International Trade Fair organisedin New Delhi from 14thto 27thNovember, 2010.Thousands of visitors visited the JagoGrahakJago stall during the Trade Fair. Publicity brochures containing information about Consumer Forums, National Consumer Helpline, Grievance Redressal Mechanism and sector specific information such as on real estate, telecom, financial products etc. was distributed free of cost to the visitors during the Fair.The video advertisement spot as part of the Jago Grahak Jago campaign was also run continuously to spread awareness on consumer issues among the visitors to the stall. Representatives of National Consumer Helpline were also deputed to provide on-the-spot guidance to the visitors during the Trade Fair.The Department also participated in an exhibition in Voorhees College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu in October, 2010.

d) Advertisements during Sports events
In order to reach maximum number of consumers, the department telecasted video spots containing consumer related information during the popular sports events where the audience interest is maximum.

iii. Meghdoot Postcards Scheme
Consumer awareness messages are also being disseminated through Meghdoot Post cards[38]in consultation with Department of Postal to reach far-flung rural areas including North-East States. Posters carrying messages pertaining to consumer awarenes shave been displayed in 1.55lakh Rural Post Offices and more than 25000 Urban Post Offices throughout the country.

iv. Use of Internet to generate Consumer Awareness
Realizing that more than 70%population under the age of 35 years isusing the internet in a big way, a major initiative is being taken to spread consumer awareness through the internet.All the print advertisements as well as the Audio Video spots of the Department have been uploaded on the website of the Ministry

v.Introduction of CONFONET project
The CONFONET project (Computerization and Computer Networking of Consumer Forums in Country) has been implemented in the backdrop of The Consumer Protection Act, 1986. This project is a technical solution for development and implementation of a computer network based system for the application areas with main focus on Case Monitoring.

vi. Introducing CORE Centre concept
The Department has launched on March 15, 2005 Consumer on Line Resources and Empowerment (CORE) Centre on the website for consumer advocacy and online redressal of consumer grievances. Through the various advertisements relating to consumer awareness, adequate publicity is being given to the activities of CORE and its website so that consumers can take the help of online counseling /guidance being provided through it.

vii. Introducing National Consumer Helpline and Consumer Care Guidance Centers[39]
The Department has launched a National Help Line. The toll free number 1800-11-4000 facility is available to consumers from 9.30 A.M. to 5.30 P.M. on all the working days.

Grahak Suvidha Kendras have also been started in 2015 in six states to help the rural consumers regarding filing of complaints in local language.

Consumer Care Guidance Centers (Grahak Suvidha Kendra) is a new initiative of the Government as a One Stop Center catering to a spectrum of services for consumer welfare. It will function as an extended arm of State Helpline and will function on a Common IT platform of National and State consumer Help lines. Primarily in 2015 in six states it was started to help the rural consumers regarding filing of complaints in local language besides English & Hindi It will have trained personnel, experienced in counseling, drafting complaints, providing information, and also appearing on behalf of consumers in consumer courts. These are working as effective nodal points in raising the awareness on consumer rights through campaigns and solving consumer problems.

viii. Establishment of Centre for Consumer Studies (CCS)[40]
The Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution have established a dedicated Centre for Consumer Studies (CCS) at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), New Delhi. The Centre seeks to network, with national and international agencies and interface with other stakeholders by serving as a bridging - think tank‖, with an intensive advocacy role. It acts as a forum for creating dialogue among policy-makers, service providers, representatives of various business establishments and their associations, professional bodies/associations, civil society organisations, educational/ research institutions, economic and social development organizations as well as leading NGOs. It also acts as a storing and clearinghouse for the exchange and constant flow of information, ideas and activities relating to consumer protection and welfare.

ix. Special Scheme on Assistance to State Governments/UTs
Considering the fact that active involvement of State Governments in awareness campaign is crucial in taking forward the movement to rural, remote and backward areas, the involvement of the State/ UT administration has been given prominence in spreading the message of consumer awareness. Grant-in-Aid has been given to the States/UTs for carrying out consumer awareness activities in the local media using the local language and emphasis has been made on involving Panchayati Raj institutions in the consumer awareness campaign.

x. Consumer Clubs
Consumer Clubs, a scheme started by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to mobilize youngsters to strengthen the consumer movement in the country. Consumer Clubs are forums where students are sensitized about consumer rights. Youth can also explain about consumer rights to the people and encourage them to boycott defective and bad quality goods. They can spread the market and the product knowledge to the consumers.
Besides this some public spirited persons try to provide consumer education and awareness through consumer movements[41]and voluntary organizations by conducting seminars, workshops, awareness campaigns etc.

Concluding remarks
It is a fact that within India itself, the level of consumer awareness varies from state to state depending upon the level of literacy and the social awareness of the people. Educating more than 120 crores people of various categories of population, particularly those in rural areas, where consumers are more susceptible to exploitation because of illiteracy, blind beliefs, unawareness etc is a herculean task. But Indian government as well as public spirited people is trying their best, besides that the following initiatives may provide more consumer education and awareness.

a) Role of educational institutions should be increased
Role of Educational Institutions in Consumer Protection Movement may not legitimately be denied on any conceivable ground. Educational Institutions, therefore, are expected to play a positive role in promoting Consumer Protection Movement. There may be different ways to achieve the objective of Consumer education about their rights and interest. It is said that aware Consumer is an asset to the society. Various methodologies, Educational Institutions are expected to follow such as, Seminars, Workshops, Lectures, Discussions, Colloquiums, Essay Competitions, Quizzes etc. in the area of Consumer Protection and Welfare to give boost to the Consumer Protection Movement in the Country.

b) Media and Multi-media publicity should be improved more
The Media includes print and electronic and multi-media publicity to educate consumers and to make them aware about their rights, and that will have a long lasting impact not only on the end consumers but also on the entire manufacturing and services sector. It will go a long way in introducing greater accountability and transparency in the services provided by the public as well as private sector since the end user i.e. consumer will be educated and will become aware enough to ask for best possible services in return of his hard earned money.The day is therefore not far off when the consumers will be truly empowered.

c) Individual efforts should be improved
The welfare of consumers remains in their own hands. Consumers do not hesitate to seek information from authorities established for their welfare and to seek justice through consumer courts if needed. An alert consumer, who is aware of his rights and responsibilities not only can protect himself but can also make consumer sovereignty a reality.

d) Role of government should also need to be extended
It is true that our government is trying at its best but when compared with developing countries developing countries like India due to several reasons like political, financial, lack of skilful and technical resources, adjudicating bodies, illiteracy, poverty and support from public etc. consumer protection and promotion is at its infancy stage even after providing protection and social and economic justice in the Constitution of India in various provisions like Articles14, 19, 21, 38, 39, 43, 46 etc. and after enacting and amending numerous legislations like consumer protection Act 1986.
-There is a need for proactive legislations and effective implementation to fulfill needs of the consumers

-Role of local bodies should be improved
It is better to provide consumer awareness programs through local governments like punchatys, municipalities for generating better awareness.

-Un-employed youth should be utilized as voluntaries with some nominal wages
Youth who are suffering from unemployment may be appointed as voluntaries with some nominal wage or honorary wage to create awareness among masses, which can fulfill two purposes like creating awareness and employment.

-Consumer awareness subject in regular curriculum
It is better to provide consumer protection, harmful goods and service etc. related syllabus in regular curriculum at least from 6thclass by these children,future of the nationwill be aware and even they educate their families regarding consumer protection.

Finally, one has to understand that whatever the law may be, it will give fruit full results when people are aware about their rights and duties for this to achieve awareness of consumers is imperative. Hence, there should be a multi pronged approach to generate proper awareness among consumers in order to empower them. An aware consumer is an asset to the society; he/shenot only protects himself from exploitation but induces efficiency, transparency and accountability in the entire manufacturing and services sector.

“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.”[42]

The efficient and effective programme of Consumer Protection is of special significance to all of us because we all are consumers. It is a social-economical-legal movement so the active involvement and participation from all quarters i.e. the central and state governments, the educational Institutions, the NGOs, the print and electronic media and more importantly realize of producers/ providers for co-existence, interdependence and economical and national growth is needed then the problem of consumer exploitation would become a thing of the past. This should, however, proceed in a harmonious manner so that our society becomes a better place for all of us to live in.

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself”[43]
“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness”[44]

*Assistant Professor, Smt. V.D. Siddartha Law College, Kanuru, Vijayawada, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, India. Pin code: 52007. Phon No. 9491448532, E-mail: [email protected].
[1]John F.Kennedy, An American, 35thPresident of U.S in his Special message to the congress on protecting the consumer interest on March 15, 1962 expressed these words.
Available at :
[2]Available at :
[3]This is a Latin word which means let the buyer be aware. According to thisprinciple the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.
Available at :
[4]The roman government in or around 50 B.C implemented principle of Lex Julia de Annona etc.
Available at :
Consumer Protection has its deep roots in the rich soil of Indian civilization, which dates back to 3200 B.C.
Available at :
[5]In ancient India, all sections of society followed Dharma-sastra, which laid out social rules and norms, and served as the guiding principle governing human relations regarding social, political, religious and even regarding economic. Among the Dharmas, the most authoritative texts are a) the Manu Smriti (800 B.C. to 600 B.C.); b) the Yajnavalkya Smriti (300 B.C. to 100 B.C); c) the Narada Smriti (100 A.D to 200 A.D.); d) the Bruhaspati Smriti (200A.D. to 400 A.D.); and e) the Katyayana Smriti (300 A.D. to 600 A.D). in all these one find consumer protection.
Later during Chandraguptas rule consumer protection occupies a prominent place. Kautilyas Arthasastra described the role of the State in regulating trade and its duty to prevent crimes against consumers.
In the medieval period, some Muslim rulers developed well organized market mechanisms to monitor prices and the supply of goods to the markets.
[6]“Historical evolution of consumer protection and law in India”, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Professor of Law, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India.
Available at:
[7]Consumer rights started to be recognized after the 1960s. in fact before 1960s they were practically nonexistent. Todays consumerism finds its origin in the late 19thand early 20thcentury in US.
[8]38th President of the United States from August 1974 to January 1977.
[9]In India various Acts intended to protect the consumers against different forms of exploitation were enacted, such as, the Indian Penal Code, 1860; Indian Contract Act, 1872; Drugs Control Act, 1950; Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951; Indian Standards Institution (certification marks) Act, 1952; Drug and Magic Remedies (Objectional Advertisement) Acts, 1954; Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954; Essential commodities Act, 1955; Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958; Hire purchase Act, 1972; Cigarettes (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1975; Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980; Essential commodities (Special Provisions) Act, 1981; Multi-State-Co-operative Societies Act, 1984; Standard of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act, 1985; and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Some significant consumer protection enactments of pre-independence time are the Sale of Goods Act, 1930; Agriculture Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act, 1837 and Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 etc.
[10]Available at :,_1986
[11]The consumer protection Act 1986, Chapter 2 deals about consumer councils. Ss.4-8
[12]Section 6(f) of the consumer protection Act 1986.
[13]The word consumer is defined under Consumer protection Act 1986 in Section 2(1)(d) as below
"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 personbut 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;
[14]Such as (a) The right to be protected against marketing of goods which are hazardous to life and property; (b) The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices; (c) The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to an authority of goods at competitive prices; (d) The right to be heard and to be assured that consumers interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums; (e) The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
(f) Right to consumer education.
[15]Under section 6 of the Act.
[16]. See S.2(1).
[17]. See S.2(5).
[18]. See S.2(20).
[19]. See S.2(22).
[20]. See S.2(31).
[21]. See S.2(42).
[22]. See S.2(43).
[23]. See S.31(2)(d).
[24]Source : The Consumer Protection Bill, 2015 and PRS
Available at :,%202015.pdf
[25]District: Headed by a District Judge or District Magistrate and at least 2 technical members.
[26]State: Headed by a current or former High Court Judge and at least 4 technical members.
[27]National: Headed by a current or former Supreme Court Judge, and at least 15 judicial or technical members.
[28]District commission has power to admit complaints of a value up to Rs 50 lakh; Appeals from its orders lie before the State Commission.
State commission has power to admit complaints of a value from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 10 crore; Appeals from its orders lie before the National Commission.
National commission has power to admit complaints of a value above Rs 10 crore; Appeals from its orders lie before the Supreme Court.
[29]Central Authority: Commissioner (equivalent of Secretary or other eminent persons) and 5 Deputy Commissioners (equivalent of Joint Secretary or other eminent persons).
[30]Regional Offices: To be headed by officer of the level of Deputy Commissioner.
[31]District: District Collector and other members.
[32]State: State Minister-in-charge of the Department of Consumer Affairs and up to 10 other members.
[33]National: Central Minister for the Department of Consumer Affairs and other members.
[34](i) be protected against marketing of hazardous goods;
(ii) be informed about quality, standards, etc.;
(iii) access goods and services at competitive prices;
(iv) be heard at forums;
(v) seek redressal against exploitation; and
(vi) consumer education.
[35]Chapter V, containing Ss. 63 to 67 deal with the procedure pertaining to mediation
[36]Official website of the department is
[37]The department is responsible for National Test House, Standards of Weights and Measures, TheBureau of Indian Standards, Consumer Cooperatives, Forward Markets Commission, Mumbai, Monitoring of Prices and Availability of essential commodities, TheConsumer Protection Act, 1986, Consumer Welfare Fund, Internal Trade, Inter-State Trade: The Spirituous Preparations (Inter-State Trade and Commerce) Control Act, 1955, Control of Futures Trading: the Forward Contracts (Regulations) Act, 1952.
[38]Meghdoot is title of a play in Sanskrit written by Kalidasa. It literally means the cloud-messenger. Meghdoot Card service is introduced by Post Department on September 2, 2002. Meghdoot Card is priced at 25 paise which is half the cost of the regular post card.
Available at:
[39]Official web site for National consumer helpline
[40]Official web site for CCS is
[41]Consumer movement or consumerism
The consumer movement is often called asConsumerism also; it is a recent and universal phenomenon. As commonly understood consumerism refers to wide range of activities of government, business and independent organisations designed to protect rights of the consumers. Consumerism is a process through which the consumers seek redress, restitution, remedy for their dissatisfaction and frustration and consumers will be educated and become aware of his protection with the help of their all organised or unorganised efforts and activities. Consumers satisfaction will benefit not only business but government and society as well. So consumerism should not be considered as consumers war against business. It is a collective consciousness on the part of consumers, business, government and civil society to enhance consumers satisfaction and social welfare which will in turn benefit all of them and finally make the society a better place to live it is foremost important to remember thatConsumerism as an effective and organised movement started in 1960s in the USA. Ralph Nader, the well-known American advocate has lifted consumerism into a major social force.
[42]Said by Thich Nhat Hanh
Available at :
[43]These words are said by Abraham Maslow,
Available at :
[44]These words are said by Lao Tzu,
Available at :

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