A consumer is somebody who purchases items or administrations for individual use or proprietorship instead of for resale or for use in assembling or creation. Consumer interests can also assist customers in a cost-effective manner. As market demand for an item rises, various manufacturers enter the market and devise diverse tactics for their own enrichment, which might result in customer loss. In such a circumstance, the government has turned to various consumer empowerment measures.
Consumer protection is the movement of securing customers of items and administrations, just as the overall population, against uncalled for strategic approaches. Consumer measures are often ordered through enactment. Consumer protection is associated with the idea of consumer rights and the making of purchaser bunches that help clients in settling on better buying choices. For the resolution of consumer disputes, a three-tier quasi-judicial system has been established at the district, state, and national levels. It also passed the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 to protect customers’ interests, which gives them numerous rights and duties. Besides this, the government has empowered consumers through various legal means.
Some Legal Measures to Protect the Consumer’s Rights:
Sale of Goods Act, 1930:
The Sale of Goods Act of 1930 is a commercial statute that took effect on July 1, 1930. It establishes contracts in which the seller sells or promises to transfer ownership of the products to the buyer in exchange for a payment. It may be used all throughout India. According to the legislation, commodities supplied from a seller to a buyer must be sold at a specific price and for a specific length of time. On September 23, 1963, the legislation was modified and called the Sale of Goods Act, 1930. In India, it is still in effect.
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954:
The Act protects consumers against food adulteration that poses a health concern. The Act also addresses the scams that might be committed by merchants by delivering lower-quality or contaminated goods. The Act governs the use of chemicals, insecticides, flavors, and other food additives in the manufacturing of food. There is a control on the dumping of substandard foods as a result of this Act. The central government has the authority to set quality standards, regulate food production, distribution, and sale, as well as pack, label, license, and regulate food additives.
The Essential Commodities Act, 1955:
The ECA was created in 1955. The government has since used it to control the production, supply, and distribution of a wide range of goods. It deems “important” in order to make the goods available to consumers at reasonable rates. The Essential Commodities Statute, 2020, amended this act as part of India’s agriculture reforms in 2020. Furthermore, in this act, the government has the authority to set the minimum support price (MSP) for any packaged product that it considers to be an “essential commodity.”
Drugs, fertilizers, pulses, and edible oils, as well as petroleum and petroleum derivatives, are among the commodities covered by the Act. When additional commodities are needed, the Center can add them to the list and remove them when the situation improves.
Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices under MRTP Act, 1969:
The Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practice Act of 1969, was passed to guarantee that the economic system’s operation does not result in the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few, to allow for monopoly control, and to ban monopolistic and restrictive trade practices. Except for Jammu and Kashmir, the MRTP Act applies to the whole country of India.
The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976:
This act was enacted to establish weights and measures standards. No weight or measure may be created or manufactured unless it complies with the weight and measure standards set by or under this Act provided. However, the Central Government may authorize the making or manufacturing of any weight or measure that does not comply with the standards set by or under this Act if it is created or manufactured only for the purpose of any scientific research.
COPRA ACT (consumer protection act) 1986:
The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 (COPRA) was adopted by the Indian Parliament to safeguard the interests of Indian consumers. In its stead, the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 was enacted. It was created in order to establish consumer councils and other agencies for the resolution of consumer grievances and related issues. The legislation was enacted by the legislature in October 1986 and became effective on December 24, 1986.
The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 aims to better safeguard the interests of consumers by establishing Consumer Councils and other agencies for the resolution of consumer disputes and related matters. The goal is to safeguard consumers’ right to seek remedy in the event of unfair commercial practices or unethical exploitation.
RTI Act, 2005:
The Right to Information Act of 2005 requires the government to respond to public requests for information in a timely manner. It is a project of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Department of Personnel and Training to provide an RTI Portal Gateway to citizens. It’s utilized to get rapid access to information on first Appellate Authorities, Public Information Officers, and other government officials, as well as RTI-related information/disclosures provided on the web by various government entities.
The primary goal of the Right to Information Act is to give individuals more authority. It promotes openness and accountability in government operations, combats corruption, and makes our democracy truly function for the people. It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to maintain essential vigilance on governance tools and hold the government more accountable to the governed.
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act 2016:
BIS is in charge of ensuring the smooth operation of standardization, marking, and quality certification operations, as well as matters related to or incidental to these activities. BIS has helped the national economy through its primary operations of standardization and conformity assessment, which have resulted in the provision of safe, dependable, and high-quality items while reducing consumer health risks. Protecting the environment, encouraging exports and imports as alternatives, and limiting the spread of variations are some of its other responsibilities.
Apart from benefiting consumers and industry, the BIS standards and certification program also supports many public policies, particularly in the areas of product safety, consumer protection, food safety, environmental protection, building and construction, and so on. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) runs a Product Certification program to ensure that products meet Indian Standards. The presence of the BIS standard mark (also known as the ISI mark) on a product shows that it complies with the applicable Indian Standard. The BIS ensures that a producer has the requisite infrastructure and capacity to produce and test the product in compliance with the applicable Indian Standard on a continuous basis before awarding a license.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India:
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has a variety of duties in the area of food quality and standards. “Laying out process and procedures for notification of accredited laboratories,” among other things, is one of these duties. The Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, which is consolidating legislation pertaining to food safety and regulation in India, formed the FSSAI. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has the authority of regulating and overseeing food safety in order to protect and promote public health.
Consumer awareness programs:
Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on anything, it transforms it. “Jago Grahak Jago” which began in 2005, is a consumer awareness initiative run by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. The government has utilized channels such as printings, media advertising, posters, audio campaigns, and video campaigns to raise consumer awareness of initiatives such as the Insurance Ombudsman channel as part of this program. This program will educate Indian customers on their rights and responsibilities as consumers.
Consumer protection is regarded as the safeguarding of consumers’ interests. These acts and programs take steps to safeguard customers from firms’ unethical activities and to quickly resolve their complaints. Consumer protection is crucial from the standpoint of consumers since they are uninformed, disorganized, and abused by merchants. Consumer protection is also vital for businesses since it is in their long-term interests, they utilize society’s resources, and they have a moral obligation to safeguard consumers. Even with so many precautions in place, still consumers are not entirely secure with the adoption of such measures. A vulnerability in the system involves putting the customer in a disadvantageous position by imposing an unjustifiable requirement, duty, or fee.
The Department of Consumer Affairs should launch more and more public awareness campaigns using print and electronic media to highlight the role of various departments on such issues that are directly relevant to consumers, for example, ISI, Hallmark, Labeling, MRP, Weights and Measures, and newly emerging areas like telecom, real estate, credit cards, financial products, pharmaceuticals, and insurance to protect the larger section of consumer’s interest.