Consumers play an important part in the economy of India by producing an effective demand for the manufacturers and boosting the production of goods and services. As the number of goods and services on the market grows, so does demand, putting the people who consume them at risk.
The major act protecting the interests of the consumers and administering the effective settlement of disputes and matters is The Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
The Act defines Consumer as
“any person who—
(i) buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such use is made with the approval of such person but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or any commercial purpose; or
(ii) hires or avails of any service for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such service other than the person who hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first-mentioned person, but does not include a person who avails of such service for any commercial purpose.”
To become a consumer certain conditions needs to be fulfilled by a person:
- He should buy goods for consideration i.e. there should be a sale transaction between the buyer and the seller for any good.
- Any person who takes the prior approval of the buyer for using the good is said to be a consumer (Dinesh Bhagat v. Bajaj Auto Ltd. (1992)).
- If a buyer buys goods for commercial purpose but himself is using it to earn a livelihood is also called a consumer.
- Any person who hires or avails services for consideration.
- A person hiring or availing of the services should pay for it. The payment can be made in the future or installments.
- Any person who gets benefit from using the service is said to be a consumer.
Complaint and its process
A consumer aggrieved with the unfair trade practice, defective goods, deficiency in service, overpriced service or good, or, services which are hazardous in nature and likely to cause injury to life and safety- can make a written allegation against the product manufacturer, product seller or product service provider for the claim of the liability according to Section 2(6) of the Act.
- A complaint is to be filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen.
- If the forum is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within the specified time frame, it may hear the complaint after recording the condolence of delay even after the limitation period has expired. In Agnes D’Mello v. Canara Bank  (NCDRC), A filed a case after the limitation period because the bank kept giving her false hope that she would be able to retrieve the jewelry, putting A in a state of inaction. Hence, the commission admitted the case.
- An aggrieved party can send a notice to the opposite party seeking time to settle the matter. It is not compulsory to do so.
- A complaint needs to be prepared with the required details and get it notarized through a notary. |
- Then, Submit the complaint and court fee to the receiving clerk in the consumer court who will give the date for admission hearing and complaint reference number.
- On the day of the admission hearing, the complainant will be informed whether or not his matter is admitted. If admitted, he will be given the date for the next hearing.
- The court will also send a notice with the complaint copy to the opposite party seeking a reply within 30 days, and asking him to attend the hearing.
- The hearings will continue till the matter is decided.
- A copy of the court order will be communicated to all the parties by registered post.
- Section 34. Jurisdiction of District Commission- If the value of goods or services and compensation claimed, does not exceed one crore rupees, then it is filed before the District Forum.
- Section 47. Jurisdiction of State Commission- If the value of goods or services and compensation claimed exceeds rupees one crore, but does not exceed rupees ten crores, it can be filed before the State Commission.
- Section 58. Jurisdiction of National Commission- Where the value of goods or services and compensation claimed exceeds rupees ten crores, it can be filed before the National Commission.
RIGHTS OF CONSUMER
A consumer should be responsible and aware of his rights. He should be ethical, independent, and mindful about any exploitation by the manufacturer, seller, or service providers. To safeguard the interest of a consumer and create consumer awareness among people. There are certain rights provided to them by the Government of India.
These areas follow:
- Right to Safety- A consumer can insist upon the quality and guarantee of the product. Before buying a consumer can look for ISI mark or AGMARK.
- Right to Choose- A consumer can select a product from a competitive market that offers a wide range of goods and services at varying prices.
- Right to be informed- A consumer should be informed of all the necessary details about the product.
- Right to Consumer Education- A Consumer should be aware of his/her rights and avoid exploitation.
- Right to be heard- A consumer can file a complaint to express his/her grievances at a suitable forum.
- Right to seek compensation- A consumer has the right to seek redressal against any exploitation.