This Article is authored by Kashyap Tripathi, pursuing B.A. LL.B(Hons) from Dr. D. Y. Patil Law College.
In order to protect the consumers from exploitation and to save them from adulterated and substandard goods and deficient services the Consumer Protection Act came into force on 15th April, 1986 to safeguard consumers’ rights and to guard them from the forged services of shopkeepers and service providers, this Act plays a very important role in it.
As said by John C. Maxwell, ” Change is inevitable” , accordingly some necessary amendments have been consistently made in this Act so as to suit the necessary changes of the society and in the year 2019, some major amendments have been introduced which aims to provide timely and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes. From covering E-commerce transactions to E-filing of complaints the changes brought about are very consumer friendly giving them more security and ease to resolve disputes arose due to insufficiency on the part of traders/ shopkeepers.
To understand the Consumer Protection Act, which contains 31 sections divided in 4 chapters, we need to understand some basic and important sections which play major role in day – to – day life, guarding the rights of consumers.
Beforehand, we should understand what is actually meant by consumer?
It has been very well enquoted in Sec. 2 (1) of Consumer Protection Act that any person who buys any goods or hails any services for consideration would be considered as a consumer in which it has also been clearly mentioned that if he uses the goods/ services for commercial purposes then he would not be considered as a consumer.
Important sections of Consumer Protection Act –
The Consumer Protection Act was basically enacted to safeguard the rights of every consumer which majorly included from Right to Safety to Right to be Informed, from Right to Choose to Right to be Heard and Right to Seek redressal, the Act has provided with various sections for protecting these rights and those are:
- Under Chapter 1 of this Act, various definitions have been encoded from defining the Consumer to define Complainant to define unfair trade of practice which means a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or unfair or deceptive practice this Chapter basically provides definition of every aspect needed to be easily understood.
Later, the Sections encoded in Chapter 3 play major role in understanding the Consumer Protection Act.
From Sec. 9 to Sec. 27A, basically treated as backbone of this Act, the provisions regarding safeguarding the rights and issues for Consumers have been made.
Section 9 – Section 14 provides for establishment of consumer disputes redressal agencies which says that –
- A Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum to be known as the “District Forum” has to be established by the State Government in each district of the State by notification ; Provided that the State Government may, if it deems fit, establish more than one District Forum in a district;
- A Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to be known as the “State Commission” to be established by the State Government in the State by notification; and
- A National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to be established by the Central Government by notification.
Section 15 provides provisions for making an appeal by the aggrieved which says that –
- Any person aggrieved by an order made by the District Forum may prefer an appeal against such order to the State Commission within a period of thirty days from the date of the order, in such form and manner as may be prescribed:
- PROVIDED that the State Commission may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period of thirty days if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not finding it within that period.
- Landmark judgement for better understanding of Sec. 15 is: M/S.Buhari Sons Pvt.Ltd vs The State Of Tamil Nadu on 12 June, 2014 where the Hon’ble SC that the aggrieved parties do have rights to appeal in condition that the delay period has not been condoned.
Section 27 provides provisions for penalties for all the wrong doings under the Consumer Protection Act. This section clearly says that:
- Where a trader or a person against whom a complaint is made [or the complainant] fails or omits to comply with any order made by the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, such trader or person [or complainant] shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one month but which may extend to three years, or with fine which shall not be less than two thousand rupees but which may extend to ten thousand rupees, or with both.
- Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), the District Forum or the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, shall have the power of a Judicial Magistrate of the first class for the trial of offences under this Act, and on such conferment of powers, the District Forum or the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, on whom the powers are so conferred, shall be deemed to be a Judicial Magistrate of the first class for the purpose of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
- All offences under this Act may be tried summarily by the District Forum or the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be.
From Sec. 28 – 31 under the Miscellaneous Chapter special provisions have been made which also plays major role –
- Section 28 clearly says that No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the members of the District Forum, the State Commissions or the National Commission or any officer or person acting under the direction of the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission for executing any order made by it or in respect of anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done by such member, officer or person under this Act or under any rule or order made thereunder.
Consumer Protection Act has aimed to simplify and fasten the customer dispute resolution process by growing the commissions’ pecuniary authority, adding mediation cells, raising commission members, imposing higher fines, etc.
Refer – Consumer Protection Act
Also Read – Important Provisions of RERA