These days consumer is a victim of low income, price rise, scarcity, and immoral practices of seller. On account of competition among sellers adulteration, misleading presentations are rising day by day.
Often consumers cannot see through the seller’s manipulations. A feel of dissatisfaction creeps in them when they fail to make proper purchases.
In olden days, a human relationship existed between the consumer and the producer. But these days no personal relations exist between them. Producers want to earn maximum profit without considering the loss of the consumer.
Now the Government has initiated many programmes to safeguard the interests of the consumer. Government is advertising through newspaper and television to enlighten the consumers.
In these advertisements, the consumer is being educated about his rights and the role of the Government in protecting these rights. Government controls the prices of the goods. Goods of daily use are provided at subsidized rates at Super bazaar, Kendriya Bhandar, Mother dairy, etc. The consumer is educated about the procedure of the redressal of their grievances through advertisements and how the Government can punish the offenders.
Salient Features of Consumer Protection Act
1. This Act is applicable on both goods and services. Goods are manufactured by the manufacturer and consumer buys them from manufacturer or seller. Services include transport, electricity, water; roads, etc. are under this Act.
2. Consumer Redressal Forum-Under Consumer Protection Act, the three judicial systems has been set up to provide relief to consumers. In this system, consumer forums have been set up at various levels which are functioning to safeguard the interests of consumers. Under this system, many forums and commissions have been set up at various levels where consumers can lodge their complaints.
I. At district level there is District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum. It is headed by a judicial officer equivalent to Session Judge. He is assisted by two members. Cases involve compensation up to 20 lakhs are entertained in this forum.
II. At state level there is State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. It is headed by a judicial officer equivalent to High Court Judge. He is also assisted by two members. Here cases involve compensation of 20 lakhs to one crore are entertained.
III. At national level there is National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. It is headed by a Judge of Supreme Court. He is assisted by four members. Here cases involve compensation above one crore are entertained. National Commission has jurisdiction for appeals coming up against orders of State Commission. Supreme Court is the final deciding authority.
3. Under this Act there is provision to settle the complaint within three months of filing it. If the complaint needs laboratory testing, the period is extended to five months.
4. In Consumer Protection Act, clause VI defines the rights of the consumer which have been already discussed in the previous chapter.
5. There is no fee for lodging a complaint. Even poor people can get justice.
6. The clause II of this Act has defined some terms used by Consumer Protection Act like:
I. Defect-it is any fault or shortcoming in quality, quantity, purity, potency, or standard fixed by the government.
II. Deficiency-it is any fault, shortcoming or imperfection in quality or performance.
III. Unfair Trade Practice-it is unfair and deceptive procedure used to promote sale or supply of goods and services like lottery, chit fund, conducting competitions, etc.
IV. Restricted trade practices.