Who Is A Consumer?

    Consumer means any person who buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such use is made with the approval of such person, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose. [1]

    SCOPE

    In the case of Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation v. Ashok Iron Works Private Limited [2] the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that a corporate body is included in the meaning of ‘person’ in Section 2(1)(m) of the CPA. While dealing with this case, the court took into note the points held in Dilworth v. Commissioner of Stamps. It was further observed by the Court that the Section never intended to exclude juristic persons from its purview and the definition is inclusive in nature.

    In the case of Indian Medical Association v. V.P. Shantha and others [3] the Supreme Court held that the term services under section 2(1)(o) includes the services rendered by a medical professional. The contention that since a medical professional is governed under the scope of Indian Medical Council Act, he will be excluded from CPA was rejected by the Court.

    CONSUMER RIGHTS

    The World Consumer Rights Day is observed every year on March 15 across the globe. On this day, in March, 1962, John F. Kennedy, the former President of the United States, declared the four basic consumer rights. In India, consumer rights are protected under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. Some of the rights enshrined in the Act are as follows:

    RIGHT TO SAFETY

    The basic purpose of this right is to protect the consumers against the marketing of goods and services which are harmful to health and life by the manufacturers. Certain standards for the goods are also fixed by the Government to ensure safety. Only if a product meets the required standards it will be sold in the market. This right is mostly applied to the food processing and pharmaceutical industry.

    RIGHT TO BE INFORMED

    The consumers have every right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods. This right is mainly to avoid unfair trade practices. This relates to the common law principle of ‘Caveat Emptor’, meaning ‘let the buyers beware’. According to this principle, it is the duty of the buyer to inspect the goods before buying it and the sellers will not be made liable for the sale of any defective goods. However the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 has put an end to the caveat emptor era and instead it stresses on ‘Caveat Venditor’. Caveat Venditor simply means “let the seller beware”. This principle says that the sellers give an implied guarantee for the goods sold and hence, they should make sure that the buyers make a reasonable choice. 

    RIGHT TO CHOOSE

    The consumers have the right to choose between a variety of goods and services at competitive prices. The seller cannot force the anyone to buy  products of a particular brand. It is the choice of the consumers.

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    RIGHT TO BE HEARD

    Through Consumer Forums, the consumers who have been exploited because of unfair trade practices can lodge complaints. It is a right given to them. The main idea behind the formation of consumer forums is to render justice to the consumers. This right also requires the companies to have a separate section where the complaints of the consumers may be recorded.

    RIGHT TO SEEK REDRESSAL

    The term redressal means compensation or remedy. Thus the right to seek redressal, in this regard, refers to the right to ask for compensation against unfair trade practices. Such compensation may not always be in the form of money. It can be done according to the satisfaction of the consumers.Consumer forums are also established at district, state, and national levels to deal with consumer protection cases. Consumers can also seek the help of Consumer organizations to get remedy.

    In the case of M/S Emaar MGF Land Limited & Anr. v. Aftab Singh the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that an arbitration clause in buyer’s agreement cannot circumscribe the jurisdiction of a Consumer Forum, notwithstanding the amendments made to Section 8 of the Arbitration Act.

    RIGHT TO SEEK CONSUMER EDUCATION

    The last right states that every consumer has a right to seek education related to consumer law. This right is basically to make aware the different rights to the consumers. The Government has taken various measures to educate the consumers about their rights. Media and school education also plays a major role in educating the consumers.

    REMEDIES 

    The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, by virtue of Section 10, has established a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to protect and enforce the rights of consumers. The CCPA is a regulatory authority and it has very vast powers and imposing penalties in one such power. It has to ensure that unfair trade practices do not take place and it must also strive hard to protect the rights of the consumers. The Act also established an investigation wing and the head of that wing will be the director general and he/she shall be appointed by the Central Government. This wing conducts investigations as per the order of the CCPA. A new method for filing complaints was also introduced by this Act. Now consumers can file complaints from their homes with the help of  online portals. The Consumer Commissions and State Commission functioning are supervised by the Monitoring Cell which works under the National Consumer Disputes Redressal. Under the Act the Central Consumer Protection Authority has been empowered to file complaints on behalf of consumers for violation of their rights. This is done in order to ensure that the rights of consumers to file complaints are not subverted. Thus when a person’s right is violated, he/she can indeed ask for justice by following the means provided under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

    CONCLUSION

    In a market place the consumers are supposed to be the kings and business is expected to provide maximum satisfaction. However that does not happen in real life. They are often exploited by the producers or manufacturers. They are often exploited through misleading advertisements, poor quality goods and services, overcharging, etc. A large majority of Indian consumers are ignorant and illiterate and do not know their rights. In order to increase consumer welfare, the Government of India has brought in various measures in the name of Consumer Protection Act, which were discussed above. The main aim of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is to educate the consumers of their rights and also to stop their exploitation. Only when a consumer is fully aware of his rights will he not be violated. Only then he can be the King in the market.

    REFERENCES

    [1] Consumer Protection Act, 2019, sec 2(7).

    [2] (2009) 3 SCC 240.

    [3] 1996 AIR 550, 1995 SCC (6) 651.

    [4]  https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/consumer.

    [5] http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2019/210422.pdf.

    [6]https://www.businesstoday.in/latest/trends/world-consumer-rights-day-2020-what-are-consumer-rights-in-india-their-importance/story/398266.html.

    [7]https://nickledanddimed.com/2020/08/10/from-caveat-emptor-to-caveat-venditor-what-does-the-new-consumer-protection-act-mean-for-consumers-today/.

    [8] https://bnblegal.com/article/rights-of-consumer-in-india/.

    [9] https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/consumer-corner/state-consumer-help-line.

    BY – RIFA NASEER | TNDALU SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE IN LAW

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