A Basic Introduction to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986

 

Who is a Complainant?

Complainant means

 

- A Consumer;

- Any Voluntary Consumer Association;

- The Central Government;

- The State Governments or Union Territory Administration;

- One or more consumers , where there are numerous consumers having the same interest and

- In case of the death of a consumer, his or her legal heir or representative.

 

 

What Constitute a Complaint?

An allegation in writing made by the complainant that

 

- Any unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practice has been adopted by any trader.

- The goods bought or agreed to be bought suffer from one or more defects.

- Services hired /availed or agreed to be hired /availed suffer from deficiencies in any respect.

- That a trader has charged for the goods or services mentioned in the complaint, a price in excess of the stipulated price.

 

(i) Fixed by or under any law for the time being in force; or

(ii) Displayed on goods; or

(iii) Displayed on any package containing such goods

 

- That goods or services which are hazardous to life and safety of the public are being offered to the public

 

The definitions of ‘goods’, ‘services’ and ‘deficiencies’ are given in the Act.

 

Who can file a Complaint?

A complaint can be filed by

 

- A consumer to whom goods are sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or such services provided or agreed to be provided.

- Voluntary Consumer Organisation

- The Central Government;

- The State Governments or Union Territory Administration;

- One or more consumers , where there are numerous consumers having the same interest

 

The definition of consumer is wide but only a consumer to whom goods are sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or such services provided or agreed to be provided can file complaint. The definition as provided under Sec. 2(1) (b) is different from list of persons who can file complaint. The legal heirs or representatives of the deceased have been included in definition of ‘complainant’ by 2002 amendment but have not been specified in Sec. 12(1) as person who can file complaint, which, creates a doubt that he cannot file and can only continue as a complainant after the death of the complainant.

 

A Complaint should contain the following information

(a) The name, description and address of the complainant;

(b) The name, description and address of the opposite party or parties;

(c) The facts relating the complaint and when and where it arose;

(d) Documents ‘if any’ in support of allegations and

(e) The relief which the complainant is seeking.

 

The complaint should be signed by the Complainant or his/ her authorised agent.

 

 

Reliefs Available to Consumers:

Following reliefs are available to the Consumers under the Act:

 

- Removal of defects from the goods;

- Replacement of the goods;

- Refund of the price paid;

- Award of compensation for the loss or injury suffered;

- Discontinue and not to repeat unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practice;

- Not to offer hazardous goods for sale;

- To withdraw hazardous goods from sale;

- To cease manufacture of hazardous goods and desist from offering services which are hazardous in nature;

- If the loss or injury has been suffered by a large number of consumers who are not identifiable conveniently, to pay such sum (not less than 5% of the value of such defective goods or services provided) which shall be determined by Forum;

- To issue corrective advertisement to neutralise the effect of misleading advertisement;

- To provide adequate costs to parties.

 

Concluding Remarks

The efficient and effective programme of Consumer Protection is of special significance to all of us because we all are consumers. Even a manufacturer or provider of a service is a consumer of some other goods or services. If both the producers/ providers and consumers realize the need for co-existence, adulterated products, spurious goods and other deficiencies in services would become a thing of the past. The active involvement and participation from all quarters i.e. the central and state governments, the educational Institutions, the NGO’s, the print and electronic media and the adoption and observance of a voluntary code of conduct by the trade and industry and the citizen’s charter by the service providers is necessary to see that the consumers get their due. The need of the hour is for total commitment to the consumer cause and social responsiveness to consumer needs. This should, however, proceed in a harmonious manner so that our society becomes a better place for all of us to live in.

 

 

 

Sources:

1)      CPA Sec 2(1)(b)

2)      Ibid Sec 2(1)(c)

3)      Ibid Sec 12(1)

4)      Ibid sec 14(1)

5)      Consumer Protection in India – Some Reflections By S.S. Singh & Sapna Chadah

 

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