PROTECTION OF CONSUMER

admin
By admin February 10, 2015 11:57

PROTECTION OF CONSUMER

Related Articles

Protecting the interests of consumers has been one of the major concerns of the Government. Several policies and legislations have been in place in order to promote the concerns of the consumers and grant them the rights of choice, safety, information and redressal. Accordingly, there is a well placed organisational set up both at the Central and State level in the form of a separate department.

Department of Consumer Affairs under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is the nodal organisation set up for the protection of consumers, redressal of consumer grievances and promotion of standards of goods and services, etc.

There is a three-tier quasi-judicial consumer disputes redressal machinery at the National, State and District levels, for expeditious and inexpensive settlement of consumer disputes. It includes National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC),State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and District Forum.

Also established are Consumer Protection Councils at the Central, State and District levels for the purpose of spreading consumer awareness. It includes Central Consumer Protection Council, State Consumer Protection Council and District Consumer Protection Council.

Besides, the State Governments have set up a separate department which deals with all issues relating to consumer affairs.

 Central Level Department 

At the central level, a separate Department of Consumer Affairs was created in the Central Government in the year 1997 to act as the nodal organisation for exclusive focus on protecting the rights of consumers including redressal of consumer grievances as well as to promote standards of goods and services, etc. Also functioning at the centre is the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) and a Consumer Protection Council.

Department of Consumer Affairs

The Department of Consumer Affairs under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution  is responsible for the formulation of policies for monitoring prices, availability of essential commodities, consumer movement in the country and controlling of statutory bodies like Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Weights and Measures. The department is broadly entrusted with the following work:

  • Internal Trade
  • Control of Futures Trading: the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Act. 1952 (74 of 1952).
  • The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (10 of 1955) (Supply, Prices and Distribution of Essential Commodities not dealt with specifically by any other Ministry/Department).
  • Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supply of Essential Commodities Act, 1980(7 of 1980). Persons subjected to detention thereunder.
  • Regulation of Packaged Commodities.
  • Training in legal Metrology.
  • Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1952 (12 of 1952).
  • Standards of Weights and Measures. The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 (60 of 1976) and Standards of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act 1985.
  • Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 (63 of 1986).
  • Laying down specifications, standards and codes and ensuring quality control of bio-fuels for end uses.
  • Forward Markets Commission.
  • Consumer Cooperatives.
  • Monitoring of Prices and Availability of Essential Commodities.
  • National Test House.

Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (68 of 1986)

The department has initiated a number of steps to promote a responsible and responsive consumer movement in the country. Such measures include: use of multi-media for promoting consumer awareness and encouraging consumers’ involvement through efforts of Government and non-Governmental organisations and others.

Consumer Courts

The Consumer Protection Act has set up a three-tier quasi-judicial consumer disputes redressal machinery at the National, State and District levels, for expeditious and inexpensive settlement of consumer disputes. It is an alternative to the ordinary process of instituting actions before a civil court. These fora are mandated to provide simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal of the consumers’ grievances. The three redressal agencies are as follows:

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC)

The Act empowers the Central Government to establish a National Consumers Disputes Redressal Commission . It is headed by a sitting or retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India. Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the National Commission shall have jurisdiction to:

  • Entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees one crore ; and appeals against the orders of any State Commission; and
  • Call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any State Commission where it appears to the National Commission that such State Commission has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested, or has acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.

The jurisdiction, powers and authority of the National Commission may be exercised by Benches thereof. A Bench may be constituted by the President with one or more members as the President may deem fit.

Accordingly, a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) was constituted in 1988. Presently, it is headed by Hon’ble Mr. Justice M.B. Shah, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India as President and is having eight members, viz. Mrs. Rajyalakshmi Rao, Mr. B.K. Taimni, Hon’ble Mr. Justice K. S. Gupta, Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.N. Kapoor, Dr. P. D. Shenoy, Mr. Anupam Dasgupta, Mr. S. K. Naik and Hon’ble Justice R.C. Jain.

In order to attain the objects of the Consumer Protection Act, the National Commission has also been conferred with the powers of administrative control over all the State Commissions by calling for periodical returns regarding the institution, disposal and pendency of cases. It is empowered to issue instructions regarding: (1) adoption of uniform procedure in the hearing of the matters; (2) prior service of copies of documents produced by one party to the opposite parties; (3) speedy grant of copies of documents; and (4) generally over-seeing the functioning of the State Commissions or the District Forums to ensure that the objects and purposes of the Act are best served without in any way interfering with their quasi-judicial freedom.

State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions

Under the Act, a State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission shall be set up by the State Government for the respective State. At present there are 35 State Commissionsfunctioning in differ States. The State Commissions are headed by a person who is or has been a Judge of High Court. Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission exercises administrative control over the State Commissions. Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the State Commission shall have jurisdiction to:

  • Entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees twenty lakhs but does not exceed rupees one crore ; and appeals against the orders of any District Forum within the State; and
  • Call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any District Forum within the State, where it appears to the State Commission that such District Forum has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested or has acted in exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.

Also, a complaint shall be instituted in a State Commission within the limits of whose jurisdiction:

  • The opposite party or each of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain; or
  • Any of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides, or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, provided that in such case either the permission of the State Commission is given or the opposite parties who do not reside or carry on business or have a branch office or personally work for gain, as the case may be, acquiesce in such institution; or

The cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.

On the application of the complainant or of its own motion, the State Commission may, at any stage of the proceeding, transfer any complaint pending before the District Forum to another District Forum within the State if the interest of justice so requires. The State Commission shall ordinarily function in the State Capital but may perform its functions at such other place as the State Government may, in consultation with the State Commission, notify in the Official Gazette, from time to time.

District Forum

Under the Act, the State Government shall establish a District Forum in each district of the State, though, more than one District Forum may be established in a district if it is deemed fit. Presently, there are 604 District Forums functioning in different States. The District Forums are headed by the person who is or has been or is eligible to be appointed as a District Judge. The Forum shall have jurisdiction (subject to the other provisions of this Act) to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed does not exceed rupees twenty lakhs. A complaint shall be instituted in a District Forum within the local limits of whose jurisdiction:

  • The opposite party or each of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, or
  • Any of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides, or carries on business or has a branch office, or personally works for gain, provided that in such case either the permission of the District Forum is given, or the opposite parties who do not reside, or carry on business or have a branch office, or personally work for gain, as the case may be, acquiesce in such institution; or The cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.

Where two or more forums have jurisdiction, a complaint can be instituted in either of them. However, jurisdiction cannot be vested by agreement if otherwise the court has no jurisdiction. If the dispute between the parties is pending before the civil court, the Consumer Forum has no jurisdiction to entertain the same.

A complaint in relation to any goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or any service provided or agreed to be provided may be filed with a District Forum by the following:

  • The consumer to whom such goods are sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or such service provided or agreed to be provided;
  • Any recognised consumer association whether the consumer to whom the goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or service provided or agreed to be provided is a member of such association or not;
  • One or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest, with the permission of the District Forum, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, all consumers so interested; or
  • The Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, either in its individual capacity or as a representative of interests of the consumers in general.

Every complaint filed shall be accompanied with such amount of fee and payable in such manner as may be prescribed. The District Forum may, on receipt of the complaint, allow it to be proceeded with or rejected. However, the complaint shall not be rejected unless an opportunity of being heard has been given to the complainant. The admissibility of the complaint shall ordinarily be decided within 21days from the date on which the complaint was received. On its admission, the complaint shall not be transferred to any other court or tribunal or any authority set up by or under any other law for the time being in force.

If a consumer is not satisfied by the decision of the District Forum, he/she can challenge the same before the State Commission and against the order of the State Commission a consumer can come to the National Commission.

Consumer Protection Councils       

The Consumer Protection Act postulates establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at the Central and State levels for the purpose of spreading consumer awareness. The objects of the Councils, as per the Act, shall be to promote and protect the rights of the consumers such as:

  • The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property
  • The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;
  • The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices;
  • The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums
  • The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers and
  • The right to consumer education.

Central Consumer Protection Council

The Consumer Protection Act empowers the Central Government to establish a Central Consumer Protection Council consisting of the Minister in charge of consumer affairs in the Central Government as its Chairman and such number of other official and non-official members representing such interests as may be prescribed. Under the Consumer Protection Council Rules 1987, the membership of the Council is restricted to 150 members including the Central Minister in charge of Consumer Affairs as the Chairman. The term of the Council is three years. To monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the Council, the Central Government may constitute a standing working group from amongst the members of the council under the Chairmanship of the Member Secretary of the Council. The Council shall meet as and when necessary, but at least one meeting of the Council shall be held at such time and place as the Chairman may think fit.

State Consumer Protection Council

The Consumer Protection Act provides for the establishment of State Consumer Protection Councils by the State Governments. The State Council shall consist of a Minister in charge of consumer affairs in the State Government as its Chairman and such number of other official or non-official members representing such interests as may be prescribed by the State Government and ten nominees of the Central Government. The State Council shall meet as and when necessary but not less than two meetings shall be held every year at such time and place as the Chairman may think fit.

District Consumer Protection Council

In order to promote and protect the rights of consumers, within the district, the Consumer Protection Act, provides for the establishment of a District Consumer Protection Council in every district. It shall consist of the Collector of the district as its Chairman and such number of other official and non-official members representing such interests as may be prescribed by the State Government. It shall meet as and when necessary but not less then two meetings shall be held every year. The Chairman shall decide the time and place of the meeting.

admin
By admin February 10, 2015 11:57
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

Let me tell You a sad story ! There are no comments yet, but You can be first one to comment this article.

Write a comment
View comments

Write a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*

Close
*
*

Like us on Facebook

Find us on Google Plus

search coaching