Consumer Protection Act 2019. The importance of the Act and essential elements in it.
Consumer Redressal Forums under the act. There are three levels at which these forums are established. The jurisdiction of these forums.
India has been a land of trade since time immemorial. Tracing back to history, there are numerous evidences of practice of flourishing trade in India and by India. The oldest civilization, Indus Valley Civilization which has its genesis around 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE is the brightest example of trade and commerce in the history of India. The importance of trade for the Indus people is witnessed by the findings of numerous seals, weights, textile impressions, jewellery etc. Thus, one can say that Indian land and its people are no new in the game of trade and commerce. The arrival of British, how can one forget, was with the sole purpose of trade in India. The 200 years of British ruling India made it as clear as a clean water that exploitation is one facet of trade if not regulated. Hence, India after independence was clear to protect the people from exploitation and malpractices of the traders. The protection of interests of consumers holds a prominent place in the economic structure of the country.
CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019
In simple words, the interpretation of Consumer Protection means protecting the interest of the consumers and safeguarding them from corrupt practices of sellers and traders. In India the law which takes care of consumer protection is the Consumer Protection Act 2019. This act replaced the consumer protection act of 1986. The amendment in 2019 made changes in accordance to the changing and developing pattern of trade in the economy. The new act contains provisions to deal with the challenges of growing technology driven market.
Sec 2(7) the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 defines a consumer as any person who buys goods or services in exchange for consideration and utilises such goods and services for personal use and for the purpose of resale or commercial use. In the explanation of the definition of consumer, it has been distinctly stated that the term ‘buys any goods’ and ‘hires or avails any services’ also includes all online transactions conducted through electronic means or direct selling or teleshopping or multi-level marketing.
There exist six rights of a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. The rights of the consumers are mentioned under sec 2(9) of the Act, which are as follows:
- The right of a consumer to be protected from the marketing of goods and services that are hazardous and detrimental to life and property.
- The right of a consumer to be protected against unfair trade practices by being aware of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods, products or services.
- The right of a consumer to have access to a variety of goods, services and products at competitive prices.
- The right to seek redressal at respective forums against unfair and restrictive trade practices.
- The right to receive adequate compensation or consideration from respective consumer forums in case they have been wronged by the seller.
- The right to receive consumer education.
The need of the Act lies in the fact that as society is becoming more technology oriented and advancements are made, there lies threat to the rights and interests of the consumers and hence to curb any sort of malafide practices strict laws with proper execution is needed. The act serves the said purpose.
CONSUMER REDRESSAL FORUMS
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 establishes a three tier network for redressal of consumer grievances. This network is called as consumer redressal forums which are established at district, state and national level providing vast scope to the redressal mechanism. Let us understand them respectively:
- District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum- These are the primary forum at district level. They shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods and services paid as consideration does not exceed 50 lakhs rupees.
- State Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum- These shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods and services paid as consideration exceeds 50 lakhs but does not exceed 2 crore rupees.
- National Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum- This is the highest Forum for redressal of consumer grievances. The pecuniary jurisdiction of the Forum exceeds the consideration of 2 crore rupees.
It may be mentioned that the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 stipulates that every complaint shall be disposed of as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall be made to decide the complaint within a period of 3 months from the date of receipt of notice by opposite party where the complaint does not require analysis or testing of commodities and within 5 months if it requires analysis or testing of commodities.
Let us have a look at two cases of consumer Dispute redressal.
- M/s Pyaridevi Chabiraj Steels Pvt. Ltd. v. National Insurance Corporation Ltd
In this case the court held that only the value of consideration paid should be taken into account not the value of goods or services and compensation. The specific provisions made under Sec 34, 47(1) (a) (i) and 58(1) (a) (i) of the Consumer Protection Act provides the pecuniary jurisdiction of the consumer redressal forums respectively.
- Indian Medical Association Vs. V.P. Shantha and others
The main issue involved in this case was that whether a medical practitioner can be regarded as rendering ‘service’ under consumer protection act 1986?
Secondly, if medical services are rendered free then would it be considered under the act
So, the court in this case held district, state and national consumer forums can summon medical experts, examine evidence and protect the interest of consumers. The doctors and hospitals which render free medical service won’t fall under the act. In a government hospital where free medical services are provided, won’t fall under this act.
No doubt we have a comprehensive network to of redressal of consumer grievances in the country. But still there are incidents where the consumer has to suffer. What is needed is that the execution of the laws should be strict and transparency in the mechanism of consumer dispute redressal should be maintained.
The objective of the Consumer Protection Act and the vast network to solve consumer grievances should be served in true nature.
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