Rights of the Consumer
STATUTORY RIGHTS OF CONSUMERS
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 guarantees the following statutory rights to the consumers-
1. The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property: To simplify this it can be said that it is the duty of the manufacturers and the distributor not to supply any goods to the consumers which fails to comply with the general safety requirements in all circumstances. It is important to know that safety standards are published from time to time by the relevant authorities in relation to many types of consumer goods.
2. 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; by simplifying this right it can be said that consumers are given the right to information. This is intended to save the consumers from unfair trade practices like false and misleading descriptions about the nature and quality of goods, exaggerated statements about their power or potency, for example, that the hair oil is capable of promoting hair growth or preventing hair loss where there is no such power to an appreciable extent. It may be noted that a victim of unfair trade practices would be able to come before a Consumer Forum only if he is a consumer within the meaning of the Act. Other buyers would have to go to the Monopolies Commission under MRTP Act.
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3. The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices; For the convenience of the consumers the Central Council has been charged with the responsibility of bringing about the organization of markets and market practices in such a way that all dealers are supplied with a variety of goods for the benefit of the consumers and that the goods with a variety are being offered at competitive prices. It is only then the consumers will have access to variety and will be able to enjoy the benefit of competitive prices.
4. The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interest will receive due consideration at appropriate forums; Right to be heard is not only the the foremost right of consumers it is a principle of natural justice also. The Central Council is charged with the responsibility of assuring to consumers that they would be heard as of right by appropriate forums and consumers will receive due attention and consideration from such forums.
5. The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; The consumers have been given the right to seek redress against restrictive/unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation. The right can be explained clearly by following example – where money was deposited in advance for the supply of a car within two months and the car was actually supplied some time after two months, in such situation retention of money beyond the period of two months is an unfair trade practice and the consumers can claim proper interest on the deposit for the period of delay.
6. The right to consumer education. This right is most important right because once the people are rendered conscious of their power, they may perhaps, feel energized to struggle against exploitation by manufacturers and traders. The Central Council has been charged with the responsibility to provide to the people proper education in terms of their remedies under the Act. It can be hoped that people’s awareness is likely to prove a better tool for putting the trade on some level of discipline than tons of Government controls.
However, consumer’s strongest and the most precious right, which he keeps to the last, is the ‘refusal to buy’ and withdraw the patronage from the seller who always craves for it because, without it, he has none to sell.