Indian Economy - Consumer Rights
All of us are consumers, as all of us go to the market and purchase products; this is irrespective of the fact that we buy salt for Rs. 20 or a smart television for Rs. 50,000.
It is legal as well as moral duty of sellers to provide quality products to their consumers and, it is the right of the consumer to buy products of good quality.
Various laws, rules, and regulations have been put into practice to protect consumer rights.
Providing bad, tampered, adulterated, or duplicate product is a violation of consumer rights. This may lead to legal action and the seller/producer may have to pay a huge compensation amount.
The consumer movement in India as a ‘social force’ originated with the necessity to protect and promote the interests of consumers against the unethical and unfair trade practices. This movement aims to fight bad practices such as −
- Rampant food shortages.
- Black marketing.
- Adulteration of food and edible oil.
- Hoarding, etc.
The consumer rights were legally recognized after the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act, (COPRA) of 1986 by the Government of India.
COPRA governs all business conducts and ensures consumer’s rights.
If a producer/seller acts wrongly and causes harm to any consumer, then the consumer can exercise his right to ask for compensation. And, if the seller is not ready to pay the compensation amount, the aggrieved consumer can file a lawsuit in consumer’s court.
As per the law, all producers and sellers are liable to provide all details of respective products. For example, on a medicine bottle, you can find the manufacturing date, the composition, manufacture’s details, expiry date, etc. (as shown in the image given below).
It is consumers’ right to have this information (right to be informed) of the product that they are buying.
If a consumer finds that the medicine, he has been given by a chemist is already beyond the expiry date or is a duplicate one, then he can take legal action against the medicine seller.
Government of India enacted the Right to Information (RTI) Act in 2005 to ensure citizen’s access to public information.
Right to Information Act is a comprehensive set of rules and guidelines that ensure and provide all the (asked/required) information to the (respective) citizens about the functioning of the government departments.
It is the duty of the respective department (where you put query) to provide the required information (that you asked) with a specific timeline; they cannot ignore your query.
The place you can file a case for redressal of consumer dispute are categorized into three levels −
If your case is valued at less than 2 million and you are not satisfied with the DCDRF’s judgment; you can further appeal to the state level court and so on.
As a consumer, you have to be well informed about your rights; for that you need to acquire the knowledge and skill and become a well-informed consumer.
24 December of every year is observed as ‘National Consumers’ Day’ as Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was enacted on this date.
In spite of so many years of COPRA enactment, lakhs of people are not able to exercise their consumer rights; they are being exploited.
Many of the consumers have no idea about their (consumer) right, but there are also many other reasons, such as corruption, faulty practices, negligence by the consumer, etc.
On the other hand, at many places neither sellers give memo (receipt) of purchased goods nor do buyers (consumers) ask for that; receipt supports the lawsuit.
It is indispensable to have the purchase receipt to file a lawsuit; it is a must to ask for the correct purchase receipt whenever you buy something.
To overcome the situation, consumers need to update themselves and participate and fight for their rights.
As a responsible consumer, one should also make others aware; this is the best way to spread the awareness among the masses.