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CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT 2019

Author: Kratika Khandelwal, Bachelor of Commerce from M.K.H.S. Gujarati Girls College, Indore and institute of company secretaries of India


Consumer protection is the practice of safeguarding buyers of goods and services against unfair practices in the market. It refers to the steps adopted for the protection of consumers from corrupt and unscrupulous malpractices by sellers, manufacturers, service providers, etc. and to provide remedies in case their rights as a consumer have been violated.


In India, the protection of the rights of consumers is administered by the Consumer Protection Act, of 2019. The Consumer Protection Act, of 2019 was introduced to replace the Consumer Protection Act, of 1986. The new Act contains various provisions which incorporate the challenges faced by modern and technology-dependent consumers. The Act also contains various provisions for the protection and promotion of the rights of consumers.


Let us understand who a is consumer in simpler meaning According to the consumer protection act 2019 along with some relevant case laws.


1. A consumer is any person who buys any goods or avails any service for consideration that has been paid/promised/ partly paid, partly promised and includes any user or beneficiary of such goods and services where such use has been made with the prior approval of the owner of the goods/services


2. However any person who obtains goods for resale or for any commercial purpose is not a consumer as per this act


3. What is commercial and what is not is a subject concept and depends upon the facts of each case, if the purpose turns out to be commercial the user would not be a consumer and vice versa


4. The same was held in Laxmi Engineering works v/s P.S.G. Industrial Institute was the supreme court held that if accrues any goods or services for earning his livelihood then he would qualify to be called a consumer However if the same person purchases a machine and appoints another person exclusively to operate the machine, other words, indulging in large business activities and profit-making would render the person outside the scope of the consumer?


5. There have been many other cases in which it has been established as to who is appointed and who is not which are as follows;

a. Where a tractor that was purchased for self-use was let out during the ideal time it was held that it is not a commercial purpose hence the person is still a consumer


b. The consumer also includes any user or beneficiary

The term consumer purpose above means -


When goods or services are availed for resale purposes it amounts to commercial purposes. However, if anyone is using this for earning his livelihood it would not amount to commercial purposes even if he appoints anyone to help


2 . It would be commercial if it is for large business activities and to earn profits and the same was stated in Laxmi Engineering works v/s P.S.G. Industries.


Consumer rights

1 . Right to be protected against the marketing of hazardous goods

2. Right to be informed about the quality, quantity, and price of the product

3. Right to be assured, wherever possible of a variety of goods, products, or services at competitive prices

4. The right to be heard against the appropriate forum

5. The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices

6. The right to consumer awareness

Some terms under the consumer protection act


Complaint:- the word complaint is heard now and then so let's understand the term

This means an Allegation made in writing by the complainant

Against

1. Unfair contract / unfair trade practice/ restrictive trade practice.

2 goods containing any kind of defect

3 services have any kind of deficiency

4. The trader or service provider has charged more than the price disclosed on the product or the price list or fixed under any law

5. the trader or service is providing


Who is the complainant

means:-

1. a consumer; or

2. any voluntary consumer association registered under any law for the time being in force like in Maggie's case many people together filled a complaint against lead found in maggie; or

3. the Central Government or any state government; or

4. the central authority; or

5. one or more consumers where numerous consumers are having the same interest; or

6. in case of death of a consumer, his legal heir, or legal representative; or

7. in the case of a consumer being a minor, his parents or legal guardian


Unfair trade practice

A. As the name suggests are unfair methods adopted by a seller or service provider to promote the sale/supply of any goods or services and include the following practices

1. Making false representation that - a. The goods or services are of a particular standard or quality or grade

b. Any goods which are second hand as new goods

c. That the goods or services have uses or benefits which it does not have.

d. Gives to the public any warranty or guarantee of the life e of the product without any proper test.

e. represents that the supplier has any affiliation without having such.


2. Publication of any advertisement for the sale or supply of the goods or services without the intention to perform them at the bargain ( offered price)


3. Permitting

a. The offering of gifts or prices showing them as free where in reality it is fully or partially covered by the amount charged

b. The conduct of any lottery/ game of chance to promote the sale or supply except such context/ lottery which is exempted

c.Withholding the final results of represented


4. Manufacturing spurious goods


5. Not issuing bills for the goods or services rendered


6. Hoarding of goods to increase the price of the goods


Defect and deficiency

Any kind of fault or imperfection or shortcoming in the quality/ quantity/ nature of the goods


Unfair contract

Any contract between the consumer and manufacturer/ seller/ service provider which violates the rights the of consumer and includes the following

a. Any contact requiring an excessive security deposit

b. A contract that imposes unreasonable pepenalties that are disproportionate to the loss in the breach. refusing to accept early repayment of debt

d. Entitling any party to the contract who unilaterally a contract without any reasonable cause

e. Permitting any party to assign the contract to the detriment of the consumer

f. Imposing any unreasonable charge to the disadvantage of the consumer


Misleading advertisement

1. Any kind of false description

2. False guarantee

3. Any kind of representation which amounts to unfair trade practice

4. Concealing Information from the consumer


Authorities under the act

Various authorities have been formed under the act for the protection and promotion of consumer interest. Under the act, consumer protection councils have been established at different levels that advise in the promotion and protection of consumer rights, which are as follows


A. Central consumer protection council

The central consumer protection council also known as "the Central council " is established by the central government to render advice to the central government in the upliftment of consumer rights under the act


Composition - one chairperson along with such other members as may be prescribed


The council shall meet at least once a year and the day, date, time and venue should be decided by the chairperson.

B. State consumer protection council also known as the ate council is established by the state government with the objective of advice the state government about the consumer protection


Composition - one chairman who should be a minister in charge of consumer affairs under the state


Meeting - two meetings in a year


C. District consumer protection council

Established by the state government also known as the district council it shall also work as an advisory which shall consist of the collector of the district who shall be the chairperson.


Meeting - required to hold at least 2 meetings every year


Objective - to render advice on the promotion and protection of the consumer's rights under the act within the district


Investing wing

There shall be an investigation wing headed by the director general along with such other directors as the central government may appoint, who shall submit its investigation report to the central consumer protection council


Procedure to be followed by the district commission (D.C) on the admission of a complaint-

1. Whenever any complaint is filled under sec 35 in front of the district commission the same should be approved or rejected within 21 days


2. On acceptance of the complaint the procedure under section 38 has to be followed which is as follows

a. Where the complaint relates to any goods D.C. follows a simple procedure wherein

• the copy of the admitted complaint is sent to the opposite party directing him to submit his version within the next 30 days.

• if the party denies or disputes the allegation D.C further proceeds with the case

• if the complaint relates to any defect for which a laboratory test is required then it may order a sample to be collected/ sealed/ authenticated and sent to an appropriate laboratory, that's for the same is collected from the complainant and the laboratory submits its report within the next 45 days


B . Where the complaint relates to any service the same procedure as mentioned above is followed however any lab test is not required/ can't be performed then in such a case D.C . Settles the dispute based on evidence bought.


3. The complaint shall be disposed of by D.C. within 3 months and in the case where a lab test is required the same should be disposed of within the next 5 months.


Jurisdiction of authorities

1- District commission - complaints upto 1 crore


2-State commission

complaints above 1 crore but upto 10 crore

Unfair contracts upto 10 crore

Appeal against District commission

To call upon pending matters of the District Commission


3. National Commission

Complaints above 10 crore

Unfair contract above 10 crore

Appeal against the state commission

To call upon the pending matters of the State Commission.


Composition of authorities

1. District commission - one president and two member

2. State commission - one president and four members

3. National commission - one president and four members


Appeal provision

District commission - from the order of thedistrict commission within 45 days and review within 30 days

State commission - appeal or review both within 30 days

National - appeal can't be made onlyreviewwithin 45 days can be made.


Conclusion

Consumer protection act serves its purpose to protect and promote the consumer from all their complaints which otherwise would have been neglected and can't be addressed consumers otherwise would always have to compromise with their problems and no one would have their back which will show that only the comprise is a solution and seller will always be dominant. Consumer protection act has to be formed because now and then every other person consumes things and it's their right to get up-to-date things.

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