What are the consumer rights in India?
The concept of consumer protection is a notion as old as human civilization. As protecting the consumer’s interest is amongst the main considerations of a business. Further, according to Mahatma Gandhi, consumers are providing a chance for the businessmen to serve them as he is the ultimate objective of the business. Moreover, he said as per the Indian traditions and customs, a customer or consumer must be treated equivalent to God.
Further, a customer is an individual who buys goods and avail service either by visiting the store or by shopping the same online. Whatsoever be the way, it is the right of a customer to get to know about the different facets of a good or service. Such facets or aspects include its quality, quantity, purity, potency, standard, and price.
In India, the concept of consumer right is always ignored considering it as least important thing. The reason behind this is that many people in India are still unaware of them. Nowadays, Companies via advertisements pretends that consumers are the king for them. But in reality, profit takes the priority over the customers.
That was the reason why government had introduced the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. This act seeks to encourage and protect the consumer rights against the defects in the goods or deficiency in the services. This act also aimed to secure the Rights of a Consumer against the unfair or restrictive trade practices.
The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 has been passed by the lower house (Lok Sabha) on 30 July 2019, and upper house (Rajya Sabha) on 06 August, 2019. This protection bill was presented in the parliament by Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
Further, the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, was enforced on 7 August 2019. This act provides for the protection of the consumer rights and interests and also aims at establishing authorities in order to address the consumer grievances and to settle consumer-related disputes. Furthermore, the authorities concerned will also provide timely and effectual redressals of the consumer disputes. Moreover, in the case of grievances, consumers are eligible to file or lodge a complaint in the prescribed manner laid down under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
Definition of the term CONSUMER Rights
As per the said act, an individual is called a consumer who buys goods for self-consumption and avail services. Further, it is significant to note that if in case an individual buys any good or avail any service for commercial or resale purposes, then he or she is not considered a consumer. Lastly, the definition of the term consumer includes all types of transactions, i.e., both online and offline.
Rights available to a Consumer
The following listed are the set of rights provided to a consumer under the consumer protection act, 1986 –
- Right to Safety – As per this right, consumers are protected and safeguarded against the marketing of goods and services that are hazardous and unsafe to their life and property. This right emphasis on the quality of goods and services.
- Right to be Informed – Consumers have the right to be well-informed about the quality, quantity, purity, regulatory standards, content, and prices of goods, and no such information should be purposely hidden from them.
- Right to seek Choose – Whenever probable, consumers must be given access to a diversity of goods and services available at different prices.
- Right to be Heard – Consumer’s interests must be heard and taken into account. Further, the consumers have the right to form organizations that will act for them in all related matters.
- Right to seek Redressal – Consumers also have the right to seek redressal against unfair practices and exploitation.
- Right to Consumer Protection – Consumers have the right to gain knowledge in order to become an informed consumer.
- Right to file or lodge a complaint from anywhere – As per the new consumer protection act, consumers are allowed to file a consumer complaint in the consumer court of any District or State consumer court. Further, the pecuniary jurisdiction of the said court will matter whenever filing a consumer complaint in India.
- Right to seek compensation under the product liability – A consumer complaint can also be filed by a consumer against a manufacturer, seller, service provider for claiming compensation regarding any loss or damage caused because of any deficiency or defect in the product or service. Further, consumers also have the right to file a complaint in the consumer court if in case there is a manufacturing defect, or the said goods do not conform to the warranty provided by the manufacturer, seller, service provider.
- Right to seek a hearing by using video conferencing – Now, as per the new consumer protection act, consumers have the right to represent their cases by way of video conferencing before the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. However, it is significant to note that this particular option is available only when the said complaint is filed with the consumer court by way of video conference as well.
- Right to file a consumer complaint against unfair contract – Consumers are also eligible to file a complaint against the sellers or service providers concerning any unfair or one-sided contract that benefits sellers or service providers and effects the rights of consumers.
- Right to know as to why a complaint was rejected – As per the provisions of the new Consumer Protection Act, the consumers now have the right to know the actual reason for which their complaint got rejected by the commission. Further, the commission also has to either admit or reject a consumer complaint within a period of 21 days starting from the date it was filed by the consumer, and the same cannot reject the complaint without hearing the complainant once.
Definition of the term Complaint
Sec 2 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 describes the term complaint as any written accusation made by a consumer in order to obtain relief under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019in the case of any unfair contract, restrictive trade practice, unfair trade practice, defective goods, deficiency of services or the hazardous goods or service. Moreover, a complaint filed under this act may also comprise of a written allegation to claim liability against the seller, service provider, or product manufacturer.
Who all can file a Consumer Complaint in the court?
The following listed are the individuals who are eligible to file a consumer complaint –
- one or more consumers,
- any registered voluntary consumer association,
- heirs, of the consumer
- legal representatives of the consumer,
- the Central or State Government.
Furthermore, if in case the consumer is a minor, then the said complaint can be filed either by his parent or legal guardian.
Can a Consumer Complaint against Builder be filed in the Consumer Court?
Yes, as per the judgment passed by the NCDRC (National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission) in the case David v. Goliath, all the promoters or the property builders of any project are recognized as providing services to the consumers (Home Buyers).
The NCDRC has also prescribed the acts or omissions related to housing projects, in which a consumer can file a complaint. The following listed are the occasions on which a complaint against a builder can be filed in the consumer court –
- Delay in the delivery of possession,
- Defective and faulty construction
- The project has not started even after a considerable time.
- Layout plans have been altered substantially.
- The Quality of the project is not delivered as promised.
- Money for the said project has been draw off or diverted to other projects.
Further, the NCDRC has also prescribed reliefs that are to be offered by the builder to the said in case of any such above-mentioned default –
- Compensation – 10% to 12% of the total flat value
- Refund – 40% to 80% for each payment made
The consumers are required to stand up against all the malpractices, deceitful acts done by traders, sellers, and they have every right and autonomy in the world to settle the dispute by way of a viable judiciary process. Hence, Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is the best way by which consumer rights can be protected and safeguarded from such malpractices with ease.