The Act tried to protect consumers not only of goods but also of services. Consumers in the Act (Section 2) means 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 buyes 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 for any commercial purpose; or
(ii) hires or avails of any services 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 services 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.
The definition has clarified following:
- The Act applies both to goods and services.
- The provisions of the Act are applicable even when part payment has been made and rest is promised to be paid later.
- The Act protects not only buyer but user in the case of goods and any beneficiary in case of services.
As Act has covered both goods and services the defect and deficiencies have elaborately been defined. Defect which is in relation to goods “means any defaults, imperfection or short coming in the quality, quantity, potency, purity or standards which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or under any contract, express or implied or as is claimed by trader in any manner what so ever in relation to any goods; Deficiency related to service “means any faults, imperfection, short coming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been undertaking to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any services”.
Under the deficiency clause many medical practitioners, insurance companies have been penalized for deficient services and forced them to provide better service in future.
The coverage of services is very wide and it includes “services of any description which is made available to potential users and includes the provision of facilities in connection with banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, “board or lodging or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the surveyance of news or other information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service”.
Though the term service includes a large number of services it has not mentioned educational service (which has become very much commercialized and large number of students are virtually cheated by misrepresentation, but consultancy is included in the definition of services).
The dispute can arise for unfair and restrictive trade practices also, hence they have also been defined in the Act. The restrictive trade practices “means any trade practice which requires a consumer to buy, hire or avail of any goods or, as the case may be services as a condition precedent for buying, hiring or availing of other goods or services”.
It in simple words means that if one buys goods or service and asked to buy some other good or service also as a precondition of a deal it is restrictive trade practice and is not permitted.
Objectives of the Consumer Protection Act of 1986
Discussed below are some of the major objectives and aims for the establishment of the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
- Better protection of the interests or all consumers of any goods or services unless the governments specifically exempt.
- Establishment of consumer councils like the Central and State Consumer Protection Councils and the District Forum.
- Provision of better quality dispute redressal agencies that can help solve any dispute that arises between consumers and companies.
- Protection of the consumer rights.
- Protect consumers from exploitations or mistreatments.
- Ensure qualitative and effective consumer education. Consumers should be aware of their rights, their options and the solutions available at their disposal.
- An efficient platform for filing complaints of the consumers and solving the same.
- Attempting to provide a quality life for consumers.
- Teaching consumers and brands to live by ethical obligations and also gain genuine public support.
In order for ensuring consumer protection, it is essential that every consumer know the basics of consumer protection. Discussed below are the fundamental consumer rights.
- The right to be heard
Every consumer has the right to be heard after being exploited. An upset consumer should be aware that he/she possesses the right to take the matter to the authorities if the company does not hear them out. The right to be heard is a powerful right at the disposal of the consumer.
- The right to seek redressal
Every consumer has the right to seek out for justice. Upset consumers who have been a victim of corporate exploitations can take the matter to the redressal agencies and file a suit against the insensitive company. This right is often put to ill use by many consumers and is hence a very delicate right.
- The right to information
Every consumer has the right to information. Consumers should be amidst truthful and genuine information. Information should not have an ill purpose and should not be incorrect. In other words, consumers have the right to truthful information.
- The right to protection
Every consumer has the right to protection. Central Consumer Protection Council, State Consumer Protection Council, District Forum and Consumer Protection Redressal Agencies are at the disposal of the consumers. These institutions aim at protecting Indian consumers from exploitative companies.
- The right to assurance
Every consumer has the right to assurance. Assurance of qualitative goods and qualitative services. They also have the right to the assurance of the variety of commodities and services at their disposal.
- The right to consumer education
Every consumer also has the right to receive consumer education. This education is often a part of every consumer protection act and amendment. The government should make immense effort to share and spread the consumer rights to every remote area of India. Consumers should also receive the right to get the education on the consumer do’s and consumer don’ts. This is a very informative and knowledgeable right at the disposal of the consumers.
- The right to a healthy environment
Every consumer has the right to be amidst a clean and healthy environment. Consumers have the right to purchase goods and services in a clean environment free from hassles and pressure. The consumer should not permit intense influence of any vendor because he/she is entitled to decide independently.