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"Understanding Your Consumer Rights: What Every Consumer Should Know"

Sunny Patel,

JIMS Department of Law, Greater Noida


Humans have mastered the art of availing services that fulfil our daily needs. Our day to day life revolves around exploiting the goods and services around us with an aim to lead a comfortable and a hustle free life. When we avail these amenities, we become consumer.

An interest of the consumer has to be kept in the forefront and the prime consideration that an essential commodity ought to be made available to the common man at a fair price must rank in the priority over every other consideration”.

Y.V. Chandrachud, J. in Prag Ice and Oil Mills v. Union of India, (1978)3 SCC 459

Consumer Rights can be defined as ‘The right to have information about the Quality, Quantity, Purity, Price, Potency and standard of the goods and services’. Before the mid 20th century there were no Rights regarding the interaction with the products and the producers. Consumers only had few grounds to defend themselves. By the 1950’s movement called “Consumerism” increased and the rights and legal protections gained importance against the malicious business practices. In 1986 the consumer protection act was formed to formulate market and free flow of goods and service providers. The act is seen as an attempt to remove the helplessness of consumers against the powerful and dominant merchant and business players, often described as the “network of racketeers” this view was presented by the Honourable Supreme Court of Indian in the matters of  Lucknow Development Authority v. M.K. Gupta.

The consumer protection act establishes a legal frame work for safeguarding the rights and interests and to accord socio economic justice to the people of the Indian Republic With the increasing violation of rights comes the remedies. An individual always perform as a consumer so it becomes even more important to know the consumer rights. Right to safety is the most important consumer right which deals in a specific area like health care, pharmaceuticals and food processing. The developed countries like United States stalwart agencies which oversee the protection of the consumer products but in India we cannot find such effective agencies so that one does not have to suffer. We see rise in the costs of goods and services as compared to other countries for the same product with this comes the right to information which plays the second most important factor according to the consumer protection act of 1986. The consumers, ought to be informed in an exact yet accurate manner regarding any sale and purchase. The right to information gives the power to the consumer to have an easy access to information which is necessary.

The definition of right to choose as per the consumer protection act 1986 is ‘the right to be assured, wherever possible, to have access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices’. This right can be better exercised in a competitive market where a variety of goods are available at competitive prices. Right to be heard includes the right to be represented in various forums firmed to consider the consumer welfare. These consumers should form non political and non commercial consumer organization which can be given representation by the government. Education of Indian citizens also comes under consumer protection act 1986 as per Indian Constitution Article 21(a) states for the right to education. Talking about the right to redressal government of India has been bit more successful with regard to this right. the consumer court likes district consumer disputes redressal, state consumer disputes redressal have been incorporated with the help of Consumer Protection Act

Consumer Protection laws offers an important part of reliable market economy “buyer be ware was once the motto of the free market, these regulations helps each seller honest, with no threat of unpleasant surprises. By knowing the consumer rights one prevents the dangerous or unethical business practices, such as false advertisement or faulty product also, for most consumer goods, Federal Trade Commission regulates warranties and service contracts. In finance, consumer protection laws, seeks to prevent predatory lending, housing discrimination, security, privacy violations and others. To protect the private information one should never give out social security, credit card, bank account details, over the phone as this is still beyond the consumer protection act.

In today’s time consumer protection becomes a very vital point as we can see consumer ignorance which needs to be taken care of and should be exercised in a better way to seek relief. Consumer protection also becomes important as we see unorganised consumers, for this various consumer organisations should be established to help the consumer issues we also see widespread exploitation of consumers through the ways of adulteration, false practices, incomplete information, fake expressions on the packed products. We have come across various misleading advertisements, for instance; an advertisement of fair & handsome claimed to reduce the dark complexion and increases the fairness, and company had to pay the compensation to the plaintiff.

There is a lot of importance of consumer protection from the business point of view. Business has the moral duty towards the society but a view of competitiveness no company leave their stone unturned to hamper the society via defection. Thus, consumer protection becomes very important in establishing the stability and maintenance of the society and once rights on a regular basis. Recently the Supreme Court in a judgement laid emphasis on the role of NCDRC in Union of India v. N.K. Srivastava 2020 SCC  Online SC 636 where the complaint alleged medical negligence against Sarvodaya Hospital and Safdar Jung Hospital and they were liable to pay the compensation of Rs. 2 lakh imposed by the state consumer disputes redressal commission.

The need for empowerment of consumers has to be emphasized so as to let them be equipped to be vigilant with the discerning eye to protect from any wrongful act on the part of the trader. The Indian government has also initiated steps towards the introduction of dispute redressal mechanism by the way of consumer protection act, but a lot more has to be done with the specific rural areas where there is widespread illiteracy. The steps taken to aware people about the consumer rights are:

  • To encourage consumer education and supply information through promoting general awareness.

  • Periodic publications of the Rights should be rolled out through booklets, pamphlets. Also by taking help of documentary films and making full use of mass communication.

  • Business communities should also be enlighted to maintain quality of the products and to be transparent in dealing with consumers.

  • The consumer trader and policy makers should exchange information of mutual interest for better coordination.

  • Coordinate program should be organised by central and state government, state legal aid authorities, academic institutions and national and international consumer organisations.

  • Easy database should be enabled to consumers to retrieve required information in a less expensive and a quick way.

Concluding with the views on consumer rights one should be aware on their individual level so as to protect themselves from the fraudulent activities. This will help the consumers to be aware about their wellbeing’s and will inculcate the sense of safety and security with respect to their day to day living benefits.

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