The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is the comprehensive law which provides for the better protection of the interest of the consumers. Under the Act, consumer councils and redressal agencies are established for the promotion and protection of the rights of the consumers and also for settlement of consumer disputes. The consumer has following rights under the Act; right to safety, right to be informed, right to choice, right to be heard, right to seek redressal and right to consumer education.
i) Right to safety: the consumers have the right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property, this right is important for safe and secure life. This right includes concern for consumer’s long term interest as well as for their present requirement. Sometimes the manufacturing defects in pressure cookers, gas cylinders may cause loss to life, health and property of customers. This right also protects the consumer from sale of such hazardous goods or services.
ii) Right to be informed: the consumer has the right to get information about the quality, quantity, purity, standard and price of goods and services so as to protect himself against the abusive and unfair practices. The producer must supply all the relevant information at a suitable place.
iii) Right to choice: Every consumer has the right to choose the goods or services of his or her likings. The right to choose means an assurance of availability, ability and access to and variety of products and services at competitive price and competitive price means just or fair price. The producer or supplier or retailer should not force the customer to buy a particular brand only. Customer should be free to choose the most suitable product from his point of view.
iv) Right to be heard: the consumer has the right to represent him or to be heard or right to advocate his interest. In case a consumer has been exploited or has any complaint against the product or service then he has the right to be heard and be assured that his/her interest would receive due consideration. This right includes the right to representation in the government and in other policy making bodies. Under this right the companies must have complaint cells to attend the complaints of customers.
v) Right to seek redressal: the consumer has the right to get compensation or seek redressal against unfair trade practices or any other exploitation. This right assures justice to consumer against exploitation. The right to redressal includes compensation in the form of money or replacement of goods or repair of defect in the goods as per the satisfaction of consumer. Various redressal forums are set up by the government at national level and state level.
vi) Right to consumer education: the consumers has the right to acquire the knowledge and skills to be informed to customers.
It is easier for literate consumers to know their rights and take actions but this right assures that illiterate consumer can seek information about the existing acts and agencies are set up for their protection. The Government of India has included consumer education in the school curriculum and in various university courses.
Government is also making use of media to make the consumers aware of their rights and make their wise use of their money. Every year the 15th March is observed as ‘World Consumer Rights Day’ aims to enhance solidarity within the international consumer and it is an opportunity for promoting the basic rights of all consumers, demanding that those rights are respected and protected and protesting about the market abuses and social injustices which undermine them.
Adv. Kezhokhoto Savi,
Civil Rights & Duties awareness campaigner