Rights of Consumers
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 provides a comprehensive list of rights of consumers in India.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 seeks to ensure that these rights are protected and that consumers are provided with adequate remedies in case of any violations of their rights. The act provides for a comprehensive mechanism for the resolution of consumer disputes, and encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation and conciliation.
These rights include the following:
- Right to be protected against marketing of goods and services that are hazardous to life and property.
- Right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price of goods or services.
- Right to be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices.
- Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices.
- Right to be heard and to be assured that their interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums.
- Right to seek compensation for any loss or injury suffered due to the negligence of the service provider or manufacturer.
- Right to consumer education, which includes the right to be informed about the rights and responsibilities of consumers.
- Right to a healthy and sustainable environment, which includes the right to live and work in an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being.
- Right to privacy, which includes the right to protect their personal information and to prevent the misuse of such information.
- Right to choose, which includes the right to choose from a variety of goods or services and to be assured of the quality and safety of such goods or services.
Consumer Disputes Redressal Mechanisms
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 provides for various consumer dispute redressal mechanisms to resolve disputes between consumers and sellers, service providers, or manufacturers. These mechanisms include:
- Consumer Complaints: Consumers can file a complaint before a Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (CDRC) at the district, state, or national level, depending on the value of the goods or services involved in the transaction. The CDRC has the power to adjudicate consumer disputes and can pass appropriate orders to provide redressal to the aggrieved consumer.
- Mediation: The act also encourages the use of mediation as an alternative to court proceedings. The CDRC can refer the dispute to a mediator, who can help the parties reach a settlement.
- Product Liability Action: A product liability action can be filed against the manufacturer, service provider or seller for any harm caused by a defective product or service.
- Class Action: Consumers who have suffered a similar loss or injury due to the same act or omission can file a class action lawsuit against the seller, service provider, or manufacturer.
- Appeal: Consumers who are not satisfied with the decision of the CDRC can appeal to the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission or the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, depending on the value of the dispute.
Offences and Penalties
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 provides for various offences and penalties for the violation of consumer rights. The following are some of the offences and penalties under the act:
- Manufacturing or selling of spurious goods: Imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine of up to Rs. 50 lakhs.
- Manufacturing or selling of adulterated goods: Imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakhs.
- False or misleading advertisements: Imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakhs.
- Selling goods or services that are hazardous to health and safety: Imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh.
- Charging a price higher than the MRP: Fine of up to Rs. 25,000 for the first offence and up to Rs. 1 lakh for subsequent offences.
- Non-compliance with orders of the Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission: Imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakhs.
- Obstructing the investigation or inspection by the CCPA: Imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakhs.
It is important to note that these penalties are not exhaustive and the authorities may impose additional penalties based on the severity of the offence. The act also provides for the establishment of the Consumer Welfare Fund, which is used to provide compensation to consumers who have suffered losses due to unfair trade practices or other violations of their rights.