Are you appearing for the UPSC exam soon? Do you know what is meant by Consumer Protection? Have you come across the term before but never explored it enough? Are you aware of your Consumer Rights? What is the Consumer Protection Act? Who is in charge of the protection of these rights? What are Consumer Affairs and who looks after them? Under what circumstances can you reach out to the Consumer Court? What is the Consumer Protection council known as?
These are some of the basic questions that will be answered in this article. The new Consumer Protection has been enforced recently and it would be helpful for the IAS Prelims and Mains exam if you are aware of the information listed in this article. Read on to know about all of the above and more.
What is Consumer Protection?
Consumer Protection laws are enforced by the government to ensure that the consumers do not engage in fraudulent activities and remain fair in the trade. It protects the customers from faulty products through some strict safety standards provided for the procedures. It is meant to solve the customer complaints and establish authorities that keep track of them and solve them effectively in time.
What are Consumer Rights?
The Indian government has listed the following as the rights of the consumers:
Right to Safety
The customers have to be protected from the marketing of hazardous goods and services. These include goods that may harm their life or their property. The goods and services brought by the customers should meet their immediate as well as long term needs.
Right to be Informed
The customer holds the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods to protect themselves against unfair trade practices. They should insist on getting information about the product or service before purchasing it.
Right to Choose
The customers have the right to be assured that they have access to the variety of goods and services available at a competitive price. In case of monopolies, they should be assured of the quality and service at a fair price.
Right to be Heard
The customer’s interests should receive consideration at the appropriate forums. They should be represented in various forums to consider their welfare.
Right to Seek Redressal
The customer has the right to seek redressal if they fall prey to unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation by the companies. They should receive fair settlement for their genuine issues.
Right to Consumer Education
THey have the right to acquire knowledge and skill to be an informed customer. The rural population should be specifically informed of their rights as they are more privy to exploitation.
Ministry of Consumer Affairs
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs is responsible for taking decisions and ensuring a smooth functioning of the Consumer Affairs. The department of Consumer Affairs was established in June 1997. Some of their works include:
Implementation of Consumer Protection Act of 1986
Implementation of Bureau of Indian Standards Act of 2006
Implementation of Standards of Weights and Measures
Regulation of Packaged Communities
Monitoring of prices and availability of essential commodities
Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supply of Essential Commodities Act of 1980
What is the Consumer Protection Act?
The Consumer Protection Bill was introduced in 1986 for the protection of the interests of the consumers. Its objective was to protect the rights of the consumers that have been mentioned above. Three amendment acts were passed post the acceptance of this bill in the years 1991, 1993, and 2002.
The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 came into force on 20th July 2020. Some of the features of the new act are as follow:
- The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA has been introduced in the new Act that protects, promotes, and enforces the rights of the consumer. It has been established to regulate unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements, and violation of customer rights.
- Misleading Advertisements may be fined 50 lakhs and the accused may be imprisoned for 5 years.
- The Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has been established on national, state, and district levels.
- E-commerce companies are supposed to list down the details of the products including the country of origin, refunds, cancellation, and exchange of products.
- Consumer disputes can now be solved through mediation and intervention of neutral intermediaries outside the consumer court.
- The manufacturer or product seller will have to pay for damages caused by a defective product.
- For filing cases up to Rs. 5 lah, no fee would be charged.
- The credit amount due to unidentified customers would be sent to the Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF).
Consumer Protection is thus an effective method to keep track of customer grievances and their protection against unfair practices. This helps the consumers receive the appropriate quality of goods that they paid for and utilise those goods at reasonable prices. It plays a role in keeping a balance in the economic conditions in the country. It also prevents manufacturers and businesspersons from taking advantage of the customers.
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