Consumer Rights :
On March 15, 1962, US President John F Kennedy made a historical speech about consumer rights as he introduced ‘The Consumer Bill of Rights’ in the US Congress. Ever since, countries all over the world have celebrated March 15 as the Consumers’ Day.
In India, Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted on December 24 by the Indian Parliament. So Dec 24th is celebrated as the National Consumer Day.
Even though strong and clear laws exist in India to protect consumer rights, The real condition of Indian consumers could be declared as completely dismal. Very few consumers know their rights or understand their basic consumer rights. And many of them are scared of approaching the judiciary. It is important, as consumers, we know our basic rights and about the courts and procedures that deals with the infringement of our rights.
Who is a Consumer (definition):
A person who purchases goods and services for personal use.
☛ Any person who buys or hires any goods or services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised for personal use not for manufacture or resale. A consumer is someone who can make the decision whether or not to purchase an item at the store, and someone who can be influenced by marketing and advertisements.
Explanation— “commercial purpose” does not include use by a person of goods bought and used by him and services availed by him exclusively for the purposes of earning his livelihood by means of self-employment.
Example: If A person X buys a printer and at home X use the printer for printing for livelihood then he comes under consumer category. But if person X buys more printers and opens a printing press then it’ll be commercial and cannot avail the benefits of Consumer Protection Act of 1986 and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
☛Consumer Rights In India:
Under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, the rights of consumers in India can be listed as under:
- Right to safety
The right to be protected from all types of hazardous goods and services
- Right to Information
The right to be fully informed about the performance and quality of all goods and services
- Right to Choose
The right to free choice of goods and services
- Right to be Heard
The right to be heard in all decision-making processes related to consumer interests
- Right to Redressal
The right to seek redressal, whenever consumer rights have been infringed
- Right to Consumer Education
The right to complete consumer education
If a consumer feels he/she is violated from any of the above consumers right then he/she can file a complaint in consumer court of India.
In India, Consumer Court is the special purpose court that deals with cases regarding consumer disputes and grievances. These are judiciary set ups by the government to protect the consumer rights. Its main function is to maintain the fair practices by the sellers towards consumers. Consumers can file a case against a seller if they are harassed or exploited by sellers. A consumer DO NOT need a lawyer to file a complaint or to fight his case. He/she can do it himself/herself. Consumer is not required to pay any court fee but just a nominal fee depending on the type of court and the claim amount.
☛The procedure/documents to file the complaint:
The most important document is the bill/cash memo/invoice number. To make your case stronger, before filing the complaint, consumer should give an ultimatum to the company/shop in written (via. email or post) that if the issue is not resolved by so-and-so date then you will approach the consumer court, you should keep a copy of that. You need the reference no./complaint no. of your correspondence with the company, If you have all the reference numbers then it is much better so it is very important to always pen down the complaint/reference numbers you are given.
☛NOTE: Your sole purpose as a consumer should be to resolve the issue rather than earning a quick buck. But you can claim more on the basis of the physical/mental and other problems and tension caused to you and your family.
To file a complaint:
Buy a copy of the Consumer Protection Act. The format for filing a Complaint is given at the back. It is quite simple.
Draft your Complaint in simple, succinct terms stating the facts along with essential documentation in support.
☛Where to approach:
Types of Consumer Courts:
- District Forum (DCDRF), established by the State Government in each district of the State, It Deals with cases valuing up to ₹20 lakh (US$36,400).
- State Commission (SCDRC), established by the State Government in the State. It is a state level court that takes up cases valuing less than ₹1 Crore (US$182,000).
- National commission (NCDRC), A national level court works for the whole country and deals with amount more than ₹1 Crore (US$182,000).
Depending upon the amount of claim, You can approach respective courts.
1) – The District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission shall not admit a complaint unless it is filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen.
2) – Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), a complaint may be entertained after the period specified in sub-section (1), if the complainant satisfies the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, that he had sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within such period: Provided that no such complaint shall be entertained unless the National Commission, the State Commission or the District Forum, as the case may be, records its reasons for condoning such delay.
☛In metro cities it may take at least 2 years for a decision so be prepared for usual delays.
☛online portals such as consumerdaddy.com and online consumer forum helps you to resolve your issue. You can also consult the websites like mouthshut.com and others to check the reviews first before buying goods to be on the safe side. It is very important to be an aware consumer, if you ask for your rights it may help other consumers like you in future.
UPDATE– As Ritvik Gautam pointed out, Mouthshut.com is not so much reliable these days, Because business people write reviews about their selling brands to promote their sales, Flipkart is more reliable.
Visit ncdrc.nic.in for more info.
A small change can make a big difference. You are the only one who can make our world a better place to inhabit. So, don’t be afraid to take a stand.