What is the Consumer Protection Act?
The Consumer Protection Act, implemented in 1986, gives easy and fast compensation to consumer grievances. It safeguards and encourages consumers to speak against insufficiency and flaws in goods and services. If traders and manufacturers practice any illegal trade, this act protects their rights as a consumer. The primary motivation of this forum is to bestow aid to both the parties and eliminate lengthy lawsuits.
This Protection Act covers all goods and services of all public, private, or cooperative sectors, except those exempted by the central government. The act provides a platform for a consumer where they can file their complaint, and the forum takes action against the concerned supplier and compensation is granted to the consumer for the hassle he/she has encountered.
Consumer Rights and Responsibilities:
The Rights of the Consumer
- Right to Safety- Before buying, a consumer can insist on the quality and guarantee of the goods. They should ideally purchase a certified product like ISI or AGMARK.
- Right to Choose- Consumer should have the right to choose from a variety of goods and in a competitive price.
- Right to be informed- The buyers should be informed with all the necessary details of the product, make her/him act wise, and change the buying decision.
- Right to Consumer Education- Consumer should be aware of his/her rights and avoid exploitation. Ignorance can cost them more.
- Right to be heard- This means the consumer will get due attention to express their grievances at a suitable forum.
- Right to seek compensation- The defines that the consumer has the right to seek redress against unfair and inhumane practices or exploitation of the consumer.
The Responsibilities of the Consumer
- Responsibility to be aware – A consumer has to be mindful of the safety and quality of products and services before purchasing.
- Responsibility to think independently– Consumer should be well concerned about what they want and need and therefore make independent choices.
- Responsibility to speak out- Buyer should be fearless to speak out their grievances and tell traders what they exactly want
- Responsibility to complain- It is the consumer’s responsibility to express and file a complaint about their dissatisfaction with goods or services in a sincere and fair manner.
- Responsibility to be an Ethical Consumer- They should be fair and not engage themselves with any deceptive practice.
How to File a Complaint?
- Within two years of purchasing the product or services, the complaint should be filled.
- In the complaint, the consumer should mention the details of the problem. This can be an exchange or replacement of the product, compensation for mental or physical torture. However, the declaration needs to be reasonable.
- All the relevant receipts, bills should be kept and attached to the complaint letter.
- A written complaint should be then sent to the consumer forum via email, registered post, fax or hand-delivered. Acknowledgement is important and should not be forgotten to receive.
- The complaint can be in any preferred language.
- The hiring of a lawyer not required.
- All the documents sent and received should be kept
Key features of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019
1. Establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA):
The act has the provision of the Establishment of the CCPA which will protect, promote and enforce the rights of consumers. The CCPA will regulate cases related to unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements, and violation of consumer rights.
The CCPA will have the right to impose a penalty on the violators and passing orders to recall goods or withdraw services, discontinuation of the unfair trade practices and reimbursement of the price paid by the consumers.
The Central Consumer Protection Authority will have an investigation wing to enquire and investigate such violations. The CCPA will be headed by the Director-General.
2. Rights of consumers:
The act provides 6 rights to the consumers.(see above)
3. Prohibition and penalty for a misleading advertisement:
The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) will have the power to impose fines on the endorser or manufacturer up to 2-year imprisonment for misleading or false advertisement (Like Laxmi Dhan Warsha Yantra).
Worth to mention that repeated offense, may attract a fine of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to 5 years.
4. Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission:
The act has the provision of the establishment of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) at the national, state and district levels.
The CDRCs will entertain complaints related to;
i. Overcharging or deceptive charging
ii. Unfair or restrictive trade practices
iii. Sale of hazardous goods and services which may be hazardous to life.
iv. Sale of defective goods or services
Jurisdiction under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019
The act has defined the criteria of Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (CDRCs). The National CDRC will hear complaints worth more than Rs. 10 crores. The State CDRC will hear complaints when the value is more than Rs 1 crore but less than Rs 10 crore. While the District CDRC will entertain complaints when the value of goods or service is up to Rs 1 crore.