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Consumer Protection Act: Know your rights as a consumer

Ritika Agrawal 
on 29 June 2020

LinkedIn


Know your right as a consumer

As a consumer, you are entitled to certain rights when you purchase something from the market, much like any other individual living in society being entitled to societal rights. Any problems you have as a consumer and all the rights that you are entitled to as a consumer along with how to go about the procedure in case any of those rights are violated are all mentioned in this Act.

Table of Content:

What is the Meaning of Consumer Protection Act, 2019?

Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is a law to protect the interests of the consumers against improperly described, damaged, faulty, and dangerous goods and services as well as from unfair trade and credit practices.

This Act repeals and replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. This new Act is more holistic and stringent to protect the interest of consumers.

This act was inevitable to resolve a large number of pending consumer complaints in consumer courts across the country. It has ways and means to solve the consumer grievances speedily.

The Act also proposes provision for product liability wherein the manufacturer not only has to compensate for the defective goods but also has to compensate for any loss or injury inflicted on the complainant due to the defect.

What is the aim of the Consumer Protection Act?

The basic aim of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 to save the rights of the consumers by establishing authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes.

What is Definition of consumer

As per the act; a person is called a consumer who avails the services and buys any good for self-use. Worth to mention that if a person buys any good and avail any service for resale or commercial purpose, is not considered a consumer. This definition covers all types of transactions i.e. online and offline.

Salient Features of Consumer Protection Act

Coverage of Items:

This Act is applicable on all the products and services, until or unless any product or service is especially debarred out of the scope of this Act by the Central Government.

Coverage of Sectors:

This Act is applicable to all the areas whether private, public or cooperative.

Product Liability:

• The CP Act shall include "Product Liability"in order to discourage the manufacturers and service providers from delivering defective or deficient services. A product liability action may be brought against a product manufacturer or a product service provider for any harm caused to a consumer on account of a defective product.

• It is important to note that a product manufacturer shall be liable even if he proves that he was not negligent or did not act fraudulently in making the express warranty of a product.

Three-tier Grievances Redressal Machinery:

Consumer courts have been established so that consumers can enjoy their rights. This Act presents Three- tier Grievances Redressal Machinery:

(i) At District Level-District Forum
(ii) At State Level -State Commission
(iii) At National Level – National Commission.

Establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)

• The act has the provision of the Establishment of the CCPA to regulate matters related to the rights of consumers, unfair trade practices, false or misleading advertisements.

• 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.

• Nevertheless, the overall purpose of CCPA is to strengthen the existing consumer rights.

Consumer Protection Act

Rights of consumers:

The act provides 6 rights to the consumers;

• Right to be informed about the quantity, quality, purity, potency, price, and standard of goods or services.

• Right to be protected from hazardous goods and services.

• Right to seek redress against unfair or restrictive trade practices.

• Right to choose a variety of goods or services at competitive prices

• Right to consumer education needed to make well informed and confident choices about goods and services.

• Right to be heard to express their grievances at a suitable forum.

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.

It is worth to mention that repeated offense may attract a fine of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to 5 years.

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;

• Overcharging or deceptive charging

• Unfair or restrictive trade practices

• Sale of hazardous goods and services which may be hazardous to life.

• 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.

Complainant

The definition of "Complainant" shall extend to parents or legal guardians of a minor who is a consumer. The Act allows consumers to file their complaint with the court from anywhere. This comes as a big relief as earlier they were required to file complaints in the area where the seller or service provider was located.

This is a fitting move considering the rise in e-commerce purchases, where the seller could be located anywhere. In addition, the Act also enables the consumer to seek a hearing through video conferencing, saving him both money and time.

Who can file a complaint

Following persons can file a complaint under the Act:

• a consumer, or

• any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or under any other law for the time being in force, or

• the Central Government or any State Government,

• one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest.

The Act has provided certain grounds on which complaints can be made. It must contain any of the following allegations:

• An unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice has been adopted by any trader;

• The goods bought by him or agreed to be bought by him suffer from one or more defects;

• The services hired or availed of suffer from deficiency in any respect;

• A trader has charged for the goods mentioned in the complaint a price in excess of the price fixed by or under any law for the time being in force or displayed on the goods or any package containing such goods.

• Goods which will be hazardous to life and safety when used are being offered for sale to the public in contravention of the provisions of any law for the time being in force requiring traders to display information in regard to the contents, manner and effect of use of such goods.

Limitation Period for filing Complaint

A complaint should be filed at the earliest but not later than two years from the date on which the cause of action arose. However the Court may entertain the complaint after a period of 2 years if the complainant is able to satisfy the court that there was sufficient cause for the delay.

Relief available against the complaint

A consumer can seek for the following remedies under the Act:

• to remove the defect pointed out by the appropriate laboratory from the goods in question;

• to replace the goods with new goods of similar description which shall be free from any defect;

• to return to the complainant the price, or, as the case may be, the charges paid by the complainant;

• to pay such amount as may be awarded by it as compensation to the consumer for any loss or injury suffered by the consumer due to the negligence of the opposite party;

• to remove the defects or deficiencies in the services in question;

• to discontinue the unfair trade practice or the restrictive trade practice or not to repeat it;

• not to offer the hazardous goods for sale;

• to withdraw the hazardous goods from being offered for sale;

• to provide adequate costs to the complainant.

 

When a complaint cannot be filed:

• A complaint by an individual on behalf of general public is not permitted

• An unregistered association cannot file a complaint under the Act.

• A complaint after expiry of limitation period is not permitted. A complaint cannot be filed after the lapse of two years from the date on which the cause of action arises unless the Forum is satisfied about the genuineness of the reason for not filing complaint within the prescribed time.

 

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