Every person is a consumer in one way or another, that is, every person is a consumer since birth. It is the right of every Indian citizen to have education about his/her consumer rights and protection.
By: Vanshika Mehta
Consumer Rights: Meaning
Consumer right means the right to have information about the quality, potency, quantity, purity, price, and standard of goods or services’, as it may be the case, but the consumer is to be protected against any unfair practices of trade.
Consumers need to know these rights. However, there are strong and clear laws in India to defend consumer rights. The actual difficulty of consumers of India can be declared as complete dismal. Out of the various laws that have been enforced to protect consumer rights in India, the most important is the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
According to this law, everybody, including individuals, firm, Hindu undivided family, and a company have the right to exercise their consumer rights for the purchase of goods and services made by them. It is significant that, as a consumer, one knows the basic rights as well as about the courts and procedures that follow with the infringement of one’s rights.
The consumer rights of India are:
1) The right to be protected from all kind of hazardous goods and services
2) The right to be fully informed about the performance and quality of all goods and services
3) The right to free choice of goods and services
4) The right to be heard in all decision-making processes related it consumer interests
5) The right to seek redressal, whenever consumer rights have been infringed
6) The right to complete consumer education.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and several other laws like the Weights, Standards & Measures Act can be formulated to make sure that there is fair competition in the market and free flow of correct information from goods and services providers to the ones who consume them. The degree of consumer protection in any country is regarded as the right indicator of the progress of the country. The government of India has realized the condition of Indian consumers therefore the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution has incorporated the Department of Consumer Affairs as the organization to protect consumer rights, redress the consumer grievances and promote the standards governing goods and services provided in India.
If there is an infringement of rights of the consumer then a complaint can be made under the following circumstances and reported to the close by designated Consumer court:
- The goods or services purchased by a person or agreed to be purchased by a person has one or more defects or deficiencies in any respect.
- A trader or a service provider resort to unfair or restrictive practices of trade.
- A trader or a service provider charges a price more than the price displayed on the goods or the price that was agreed upon between the parties or the price that was stipulated under any law that exists.
Right to Safety
According to the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the consumer right is referred to as the ‘right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property’. It applies to specific areas like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and food processing, this right is spread across the domain having a serious effect on the health of the consumers or their wellbeing- Automobiles, Housing, Domestic Appliances, Travel, etc. When there is a violation of the right then there occur medical malpractice lawsuits in the country. It is estimated every year that thousands or millions of citizens of India are killed or seriously injured by immoral practices by doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and the automobile industry.
Right to Information
The right to information is defined as ‘the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices’ in the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
In the marketplace of India, consumers get information in two ways namely advertising and word of mouth however these sources are considered to be unreliable but still this word of mouth is quite common here.
Because of this, the Indian consumers hardly have precise and complete information for assessing the true value, safety, suitability, reliability of any product.
Right to Choose
The definition of Right to Choose as per the Consumer Protection Act 1986 is ‘the right to be assured, wherever possible, to have access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices.’
Right to be Heard
As stated in the Consumer Protection Act 1986, ‘the right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums’ is the definition of the right to be heard. This right helps to empower the consumers of India for putting forward their complaints and concerns fearlessly and raising their voice against products or even companies and ensure that their issues are taken into consideration as well as handled expeditiously.
Right to Redressal
The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers is referred to as the right to redressal according to the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The government of India has been a bit more successful with regard to this right. The consumer courts like District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums at the district level, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions, and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions have been incorporated with the help of the consumer protection act.
Right to Consumer Education
The right of every Indian citizen to have education on matters regarding consumer protection as well as about her/his right is regarded as the last right provided by the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The right makes sure that the consumers in the country have informational programs and materials which are easily accessible and would enable them to make purchasing decisions that are better than before. Consumer education might refer to formal education through college and school curriculums as well as consumer awareness campaigns being run by non-governmental and governmental agencies both.
Responsibilities of a Consumer
The consumer has a certain responsibility to carry as an aware consumer can bring changes in the society and would help other consumers to fight the unfair practice or be aware of it. They should be aware of their rights under the Consumer Protection Act and should practice the same in case of need. They should be well aware of the product they are buying. One should act as a cautious consumer while purchasing the product.
If in case a product is found of anything false or not satisfactory a complaint should be filed.
The consumer should ask for a Cash Memo while making a purchase. A customer should check for the standard marks that have been introduced for the authenticity of the quality of the product like ISI or Hallmark etc.