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2 yrs ago

Brief overview of 6 rights of consumers enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986

Author: Advocate Shakti Priyan Nair
Category : Consumer Protection law

It has long been understood and observed that the enactment and enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 has led to the betterment of both consumers as well as manufacturers and traders. However, other than the slogan popularized by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, i.e., "Jaago Grahak Jaago", most people continue to remain in the dark as to what rights have been afforded to them under the Act. For the benefit of the people who were unaware of the same, and for refreshing the memories of those who already possessed this information, here is a brief overview of the 6 rights afforded to all consumers under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986:

  1. RIGHT TO SAFETY: As the name itself would suggest, every consumer is given the right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services, which are hazardous to life and property. The goods or services purchased by the said consumer should not only fulfill the immediate needs of the consumers, but should also fulfill the long term interests of the consumers purchasing the said product/service. Therefore, before purchasing any product, a consumer should be aware of the certifications and hallmarks bestowed on the products/services being purchased/availed by them, and should duly check for the same on such goods/services. For instance, the Ministry advises consumers to purchase goods/services with the certifying marks of IGI, AGMARK, and so on.
  2. RIGHT TO BE INFORMED: Every consumer has the right to know about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods so as to protect himself/herself against unfair trade practices. Consumers are encouraged to research on the product/services they are willing to purchase in order to ensure that they conduct due diligence in such research and only purchase/avail goods/services which have been certified by the appropriate authorities. This will enable the consumer to act in a wise and responsible manner, and desist from falling prey to scams, high pressure selling techniques, and generally being sold counterfeit/spurious goods. 
  3. RIGHT TO CHOOSE: Every consumer is given the right to be assured, wherever possible, of access to variety of goods and services at competitive price. In case of monopolies, it means right to be assured of satisfactory quality and service at a fair price. It also includes right to basic goods and services. This right can be better exercised in a competitive market where a variety of goods are available at competitive prices.
  4. RIGHT TO BE HEARD: As the right itself would suggest, every consumer has the inherent right to be heard at all appropriate fora. This includes the right to be represented before the said fora across the country formed to consider and safeguard the consumers' rights and interests.  
  5. RIGHT TO SEEK REDRESSAL: Every consumer has the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation, including but not limited to, the right to a fair settlement of the genuine grievances of the consumer. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs encourages all consumers to seek redressal against any such unfair trade practices, as regardless of how small the amount involved may be, the impact on the Society as a result of such redressal shall be huge. The best example of this can be observed of the Consumer proceedings initiated a few years ago against charging of Rs. 30/40 for a bottle of mineral water bottle whose MRP was Rs. 20. In the said proceedings, not only was the consumer granted compensation for the same, but the Ministry was directed to take action against all such parties who were charging above the MRP.
  6. RIGHT TO CONSUMER EDUCATION: Every consumer is granted the right to acquire the knowledge and skill to be an informed consumer. Ignorance of rights is not excused by law, and in order to ensure the same does not take place, the Ministry promotes and increases awareness of the aforesaid rights. 
Please note that the content of this article are not owned by the Author, but have instead been taken from the website of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, and have merely been reiterated herein with slight changes for the benefit of the consumers at large, in line with the legislative intent of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. For more information, kindly contact the author of this article.

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