The Consumer Protection Act, 1986
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986
Several laws had been passed to protect consumers. The Contract Act, 1872, The Sale of Goods Act, 1930, The Agricultural Produce/Trading and Marking Act, 1937, The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, The Essential Commodities Act, 1955, The Preventions of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969, The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976, etc., are examples of these laws.
It was; however, felt that there was need for a specific law for consumer protection. Therefore, The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was passed.
The Consumer Protection Act seeks to provide better protection of the interests of consumers. It aims to provide a speedy and simple redressal to consumer grievances. The Consumer Protection Act offers for the setting up of three-tier quasi-judicial machinery. This machinery has been empowered to give relief of a specific nature and to award compensation to consumers. The Consumer Protection Act applies both to goods and services. It protects not only buyer but user in the case of goods and any beneficiary in case of services.
Salient Features of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986
1. Social Welfare Law : It is a highly progressive piece of social welfare legislation. It is acclaimed as the Magna Carta of Indian consumers. This is a unique law which directly pertains to consumers in the market place and seeks to redress complaints arising there from.
2. Comprehensive Provisions and Effective Safeguards: Its provisions are very comprehensive. It provides effective safeguards to the consumers against various types of exploitation and unfair trade practices. In fact, it provides more effective protection to consumers than any other law in India.
3. Special Consumer Courts: The Consumer Protection Act has created special consumer courts for enforcement of the rights of consumers.
4. Three-Tier Grievance Redressal Machinery: The Consumer Protection Act provides for a three-tier consumer grievance redressal machinery — District Forums at the base, the State Commission at the middle level and the National Commission at the apex level. The redressal machinery is quasi-judicial in
5. Simple and Inexpensive : There are no complicated or elaborate procedures or other technicalities. The redressal machinery is merely to observe the principles of natural justice. No court fee any other charge is to be paid by the complainant. It is not mandatory to employ any advocate. The complainant can write his grievance- on a simple paper along with the name and address of the opposite party against whom the complaint is made.
Thus, the consumer protection Act provides a simple, convenient and inexpensive redressal of consumer grievances.
6. Covers Goods and Services : The Consumer Protection Act covers both goods and services rendered for consideration by any person or organization including public sector undertakings and Government agencies. However, services rendered free of charge or under any contract of personal service are excluded. All suppliers of goods and services in private, public and cooperative sectors are covered under the Act.
7. Time Frame : The Consumer Protection Act lays down time limits for the disposal of cases so as to provide speedy redressal of grievances.
8. Class Action : The Consumer Protection Act allows filing of class action complaints on behalf of groups of consumers having common interest.
9. Check on Unfair Trade Practices : The Consumer Protection Act also covers complaints relating to unfair trade practices. Thus, a consumer can protect against food adulteration, short weighting and overcharging, directly to the District Forums. The consumer can pick up a food sample from a shop, get it analyzed by a chemist and file a complaint on that basis.
10. Check on Overcharging : The Consumer Protection Act also provides for complaints against charging in excess of the price of a product fixed by a law or rule and/or displayed on the packaged commodities.