India: Growing Incidences Of Unfair Trade Practices In India

The term "Unfair Trade Practice" does not have a universal standard definition. However, the term Unfair Trade Practice broadly refers to any fraudulent, deceptive or dishonest trade practice; or business misrepresentation of the products or services that are being sold; which is prohibited by a statute or has been recognised as actionable under law by a judgement of the court. However, the Indian statute dealing with the term is Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

General unfair trade practices may include unfairly refusing a transaction, discriminating against a transacting party, unfairly excluding competitors, unfairly soliciting customers, unfairly coercing customers, trading with a transacting party by unfairly taking advantage of one's bargaining position, trading under terms and conditions which unfairly restrict business activities of a transacting party, disrupting business activities of another enterprise, and unfair provision of capital, assets, manpower, etc (Unfair assistance).

In India, till 2002, the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act (MRTP), which was enacted to prevent monopolies and restrictive trade practices, was the foremost legislation to deal with unfair trade practices in the country. The MRTP Act was repealed giving way to the Competition Act, 2002, thus transferring all the pending cases in the MRTPC to Competition Commission of India (CCI) for adjudication from the stages they were in. However, no provision to deal with unfair trade practice was incorporated in the Competition Act and thus this was, instead, given effect under Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (COPRA) which was already dealing with unfair trade practices. Section 2(1)(r) of COPRA defines unfair trade practice as: "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, including any of the following practices, namely:—

  1. making any statement, whether orally or in writing or by visible representation which:

    1. falsely represents that the goods are of a particular standard, quality, quantity, grade, composition, style or model;
    2. falsely represents that the services are of a particular standard, quality or grade;
    3. falsely represents any re-built, second-hand, renovated, reconditioned or old goods as new goods;
    4. represents that the goods or services have sponsorship, approval, performance, characteristics, accessories, uses or benefits which such goods or services do not have;
    5. represents that the seller or the supplier has a sponsorship or approval or affiliation which such seller or supplier does not have;
    6. makes a false or misleading representation concerning the need for, or the usefulness of, any goods or services;
    7. gives to the public any warranty or guarantee of the performance, efficacy or length of life of a product or of any goods that is not based on an adequate or proper test thereof

In the recent past, the prevalence of Unfair Trade Practice has been on a rise and various instances have come to light bringing the issue at hand in discussion. In a recent case where Big Bazar, a departmental store declared Republic Day as Mega Savings Day, which led to an unmanageable consumer rush. To restrict entry to legitimate purchasers, the store came up with a scheme of issuing an entry coupon of Rs 50. The government of Gujarat filed a complaint before the district forum alleging that Big Bazar had adopted unfair and restrictive trade practices by collecting Rs 1, 95,000 from the sale of the 3,900 coupons. The issue to be decided was whether the imposition of an entry fee amounts to an unfair or restrictive trade practice? Upholding the Government's contention, the Forum held that if the crowd was uncontrollable, the store should have called the police, but had no right to refuse entry or impose an entry fee. The Forum directed Big Bazar to pay the amount collected along with the interest. Big Bazar appealed the order in State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, which rejected the appeal. Big Bazar then approached the National Consumer Redressal Commission in revision. The store contended that it had the right to restrict customer entry to the store. It also argued that the purpose of the coupons was to regulate the crowd of customers, and no unfair trade practice had been adopted. The National Commission concluded that Big Bazar had not indulged in unfair or restrictive trade practice. It held that an entry fee does not bring about a manipulation in the price of a product or service, but merely regulates customer crowd. The practice is prevalent worldwide, and is permissible.

In another case, leading real estate firm Unitech Ltd. has been held guilty of resorting to "unfair trade practice" by a consumer forum and directed to pay a customer Six Hundred Sixty Thousand Indian Rupees for making "illegal demands" from him after he booked a flat with it and paid the booking amount. The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, in its order, observed that the firm and its agent made "unjustified" demands from the customer and also threatened to forefeit his deposited money.

Another case dealt with SpiceJet being directed by a consumer forum to pay One Hundred Thousand Indian Rupees to a passenger for not allowing all members of his family to board the plane despite having confirmed tickets and making them travel on two different flights while returning to Delhi from Goa. The East District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum noted that it was "cruelty" on the part of SpiceJet to split the family into two groups especially when they had children with them and held it guilty of unfair trade practice.

The awareness among consumers in today's modernized world is giving way to consumers ascertaining the rights provided to them under Consumer Protection Act and seeking redressal against the unfair trade practice. The prospect of the consumer justice system in our country appears to be bright in view of the provisions available in the Indian statutes and legislation and various proactive policies, schemes/programmes being adopted by the Government. Involvement of trade and industry, civil society organizations and above all consumer themselves is vital to keep a check on the practice of unfair trade in the years to come.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions