Is Consumer Really The King in India?
Consumers are considered to be king in a free market; the sellers are guided by the will of aconsumer. Webster's dictionary defines Consumerism as "the promotion of the consumer'sinterests" or alternately "the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economicallydesirable". "
" is likely to dominate the Indian market in the coming years, thanksto the economic reforms in the present years and increased direct foreign investment in the retailsector. The transition will be from a predominantly "sellers market" to a "buyers market" wherethe choice exercised by the consumer will be influenced by the level of consumer awarenessachieved. By "consumerism" we also mean the process of realising the rights of the consumer asenvisaged in the Consumer Protection Act (1986) viz. right to safety, right to be informed, rightto choose, right to be heard, right to redress, right to consumer education, right to satisfaction of basic needs and ensuring right standards for the goods and services for which one makes apayment. The big multinationals will leave no stone unturned to gain the attraction of theconsumer and will try to gain a respectable market share. However, some of the companies try toengage in unscrupulous, exploitative and unfair trade practices like defective and unsafeproducts, adulteration, false and misleading advertising, hoarding, black-marketing etc. Theearlier approach of
, which means “Let the buyer beware”, has now been changedto
(“Let the seller beware”). There is an active need for having awareness on theconsumer protection rights.
Evolution of Consumer Protection Rights in India
The consumer movement in India is as old as trade and commerce. In Kautilya's
,there are references to the concept of consumer protection against exploitation by the trade andindustry, short weights and measures, adulteration and punishment for these offences. However,there was no organised and systematic movement actually safeguarding the interests of theconsumers. Prior to independence, the main laws under which the consumer interests wereconsidered were the Indian Penal Code, Agricultural Production, Grading and Marketing Act,1937, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Even though different parts of India exhibited differentlevels of awareness, in general, the level of awareness was pretty low. Indian consumermovement began with Passengers and Traffic Relief Association (PATRA) in Mumbai, in 1915.The growth from there has been incredible and the momentum of this growth started during the‘60s.In 1969, Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act was enacted and MRTP commissionwas set up under the provision of the act. The act deals with cases of restrictive trade practicesadversely affecting competition and with unfair trade practices arising largely out of false andmisleading advertisements. After this act, consumer groups emerged. The emergence of the
Amartya Bag, B.A. LL.B. (1
Semester), KIIT Law School, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Orissa. Email :firstname.lastname@example.org