India: The Consumer Protection Law In India

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (CPA) is an Act that provides for effective protection of interests of consumers and as such makes provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities that help in settlement of consumer disputes and matters connected therewith.

The CPA seeks to protect the interests of individual consumers by prescribing specific remedies to make good the loss or damage caused to consumers as a result of unfair trade practices.

Background

Unlike the law of torts which is not codified in India, there are certain legislations that have been formulated for the protection of interests of consumers. Some of the significant enactments that are aimed at protection of such interests of the consumers include the Sale of Goods Act, 1930, the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act, 1937, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, the Indian Standards Institution (Certification Marks) Act, 1952, the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, the legal Metrology Act, 2009, etc.

These legislations contain regulatory provisions contravention of which, in most cases, attract civil liability. Earlier, the aggrieved consumer had no remedy but to initiate action by way of a civil suit, a lengthy and expensive process which caused undue harassment to the consumers. As a consequence, the cost and time involved was disproportionate to the compensation claimed and granted to the aggrieved consumer.

The CPA provides for quick and easy remedy to consumers under a three-tier quasi-judicial redressal agency at the District, State and National levels. The CPA has been amended from time to time to extend its coverage and scope and to enhance the powers of the redressal machinery.

Scope

Broadly speaking, the CPA seeks to protect the following basic rights of consumers:

  • Right against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;
  • Right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services;
  • Right to choice, wherever possible through access, to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices;
  • Right to be heard and to be assured that consumers' interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;
  • Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers;
  • Right to consumer education; and
  • Right to clean and healthy environment.

Who is a consumer?

Section 2(d) of the CPA defines "consumer" as a person who:

"(a) 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 a 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;

or

(b) Hires or avails of any services for consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who hires or avails of the services for a consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first mentioned person but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial purpose. It may, however, be noted that "commercial purpose" does not include use by a person of goods bought and services exclusively for the purposes of earning his livelihood by means of self-employment."

From the above definition, it can be observed that:

  • The goods or services must have been purchased or hired or availed of for a consideration which has been paid in full or in part or under a system of deferred payment, i.e., in respect of hire-purchase transactions;
  • The goods purchased should not be meant for resale or for a commercial purpose. Goods purchased by a dealer in the ordinary course of his business and those which are in the course of his business to supply would be deemed to be for re-sale;
  • In addition to the purchaser(s) of goods, or hirer(s) or user(s) of services, any beneficiary of such services, a user of goods/services with the approval of the purchaser or hirer or user would also be deemed to be a "consumer" under the Act.

Consumer Protection Council

The interests of consumers are sought to be protected and promoted under the Act inter alia by establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at the District, State and National levels.

Redressal Machinery under the Act

The Act provides for a three-tier quasi-judicial redressal mechanism at the District, State and National levels for redressal of consumer disputes and grievances, namely:

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (commonly known as National Commission)

It has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods/services complained against and the compensation, if any claimed, exceeds Rs10,000,000 (Indian Rupees 10 Million).

State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (commonly known as State Commission)

It has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods/services complained against and the compensation, if any claimed, exceeds Rs 2,000,000 (Indian Rupees 2 Million) but less than Rs 10,000,000 (Indian Rupees 10 Million).

District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (commonly known as District Forum)

It has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods/services complained against and the compensation, if any claimed, is less than Rs 2,000,000 (Indian Rupees Two Million).

Applicability of the Law of Limitation

The District Forum, the State Commission and/or the National Commission shall not admit a complaint unless it is filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen. However, where the complainant satisfies the Forum/Commission, as the case may be, that he has sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within two years, such a complaint may be entertained by such Forum/ Commission after recording the reasons for condoning the delay.

Remedies under the CPA

Depending on the facts and circumstances, the redressal forums may issue orders for one or more of the following relief(s):

  • Removal of defects from the goods;
  • Replacement of the goods;
  • Refund of the price paid;
  • Award of compensation for the loss or injury suffered;
  • Withdrawal of the hazardous goods from being offered for sale; or
  • Award for adequate costs to parties.
  • Removal of defects or deficiencies in the services;

Discontinuance of unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or direction not to repeat them;

Vinay Vaish, Joint Managing Partner Vaish Associates Advocates
Email vinay@vaishlaw.com Ph.: +911142492512

© 2016, Vaish Associates Advocates,
All rights reserved
Advocates, 1st & 11th Floors, Mohan Dev Building 13, Tolstoy Marg New Delhi-110001 (India).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist professional advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. The views expressed in this article are solely of the authors of this article.

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
Vinay Vaish, Partner, Vaish Associates Advocates
 
In association with
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
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Emails

From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.