The Consumer Protection Act was implemented in the year 1986. It’s main aim is to solve consumer grievances and gives consumers the right to speak against any flaws in the product or service which is consumed or availed of. It covers all goods and services bought and sold by the parties such as the public sector, private sector and the co-operative sector. It provides a three tier system of solving consumer grievances.
The Consumer Protection Act covers various rights and responsibilities of the customers. The different rights which is given to the customers are as follows:
Right to Safety- Right to safety refers to the right to market any product or service which does not cause any harm to life and property. Before purchasing any product or before availing any service, a consumer should ensure basic standard marks which proves the premium quality of any product which is being consumed, there are marks such as ISI and Agmark which needs to be looked at.
Right to Choose- The right to choose refers to the right of every consumer to choose from a wide variety and range of products available to them which are of standard quality and service and which is of a fair price or value. They also have the right to choose them at the various competitive prices given by different sellers.
Right to be Informed- This right refers to the right to be informed about the product’s price, nature, size, purity and various other elements which is necessary to be informed of before making any purchase. This makes consumers buy the product only after carefully checking the quality of the product and will protect himself from getting exploited.
Right to consumer education- Consumers have the right to be educated about the product or service they will consume and protect themselves from being ignorant consumers and fight for their right if they get fooled.
RIght to be heard- Right to be heard refers to the right that every consumer’s complaint and grievances will be heard by the various consumer forums designated to solve their grievances. Consumers also have the right to form non-political and non commercial consumer organisations which will then seek consumer welfare. These will be recognized by the government body and various other bodies belonging to the consumers.
Right to seek redressal of greivances- Consumers have the right to receive compensation against unfair trade practices or against any exploitation made by the sellers to the customers.
Consumer Protection Act has a three tier system of solving consumer grievances, namely, District Forum, State Commission and the National Commission. The District Forum consists of a President and other two members, appointed by the state commission and this agency has consumer complaints which is 20 Lakhs or less in worth of goods and services. This agency sends the goods and services to the laboratory, if required, and then takes decisions based on their reports. If the consumers are not satisfied by the decision, they can file an appeal against the judgment and can move to the State Commission.
The State Commission consists of a President and other two members, appointed by the state government. The complaints of goods worth Rs.20 Lakhs to less than Rs.1 Crore are filed at this level. On receiving such complaints, the state commission contacts the parties against whom the complaint has been registered and sends the goods to the laboratory if required. If the consumer is not satisfied by this decision, they can file an appeal with the National Commission.
The National Commission consists of a President and four other members, one of whom should be a woman. These are appointed by the Central Government. Any complaints can be filed in the National Commission if the value of these goods and services exceeds 1 Crore. Any complaints received, the goods are first sent to the laboratory for testing and those results are adjudged final.