INDUSTRIAL LAWS

3.9. CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986
1. The preamble to the Act states that the Act is legislated to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other Authorities for the settlement of consumer’s disputes and for matters connected therewith.

An Act to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other Authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith. SHORT TITLE, EXTENT, COMMENCEMENT AND APPLICATION (1) This Act may be called the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. (2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. (3) It shall come into force on such date 1 as the Central Government may, by notification appoint and different dates may be appointed for different States and for different provisionsof this Act. (4) Save as otherwise expressly provided by the Central Government, by notification, this Act shall apply to all goods and services. 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF DISPUTES REDRESSAL AGENCIES The Act provides for a three tier system for adjudicating the consumer disputes. a. District Forum. b. State Commission. c. National Commission. Definitions. (1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,[(a) “Appropriate laboratory” means a laboratory or organisation(i) Recognized by the Central Government;

(ii) Recognized by a State Government, subject to such guidelines as may be prescribed by the Central Government in this behalf; or (iii) Any such laboratory or organisation established by or under any law for the time being in force, which is maintained, financed or aided by the Central Government or a State Government for carrying out analysis or test of any goods with a view to determining whether such goods suffer from any defect; A 304
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[(aa)“Branch office” means— (i) Any establishment described as a branch by the opposite party; or

(ii) Any establishment carrying on either the same or substantially the same activity as that carried on by the head office of the establishment; (b) “Complainant” means— (i) A consumer; or

(ii) Any voluntary consumer association registered under the companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956), or under any other law for the time being in force; or (iii) The Central Government or any State Government, who or which makes a complaint; (iv) One or more consumers where there are numerous consumers having the same interest; (v) In case of death of a consumer, his legal heir or representative who or which makes a complaint; (c) “Complaint’’ means any allegation in writing made by a complainant that— (i) An unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice has been adopted by any trader or service provider;

(ii) The goods bought by him or agreed to be bought by him] suffer from one or more defects; (iii) Service hired or availed of or agreed to be hired or availed of by him] suffer from deficiency in any respect; (iv) A trader or the service provider, as the case may be, has charged for the goods or for the service mentioned in the complaint, a price in excess of the price in excess of the price(a) Fixed by or under any law for the time being in force; (b) Displayed on the goods or any package containing such goods; (c) Displayed on the price list exhibited by him by or under any law for the time being in force; (d) Agreed between the parties; (v) Goods which will be hazardous to life and safety when used are being offered for sale to the public;(a) In contravention of any standards relating to safety of such goods as required to be complied with, by or under any law for the time being in force;

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INDUSTRIAL LAWS (b) If the trader could have known with due diligence that the goods so offered are unsafe to the public;] (vi) Service which are hazardous or likely to be hazardous to life and safety of the public when used, are being offered by the service provider which such person could have known with due diligence to be injurious to life and safety. (d) “Consumer” means any person who, (i) 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 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 [Hires or avails of] any services 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 beneficiary of such services other then the person who 8[hires or avails of] the services for 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 wo avails of such services for any com mercial purpose];

(ii)

[Explanation. For the purposes of this sub-clause “commercial purpose” does not include use by a consumer of goods bought and used by him and services availed by him exclusively for the purposes of earning his livelihood, by means of self-employment;] (e) “Consumer dispute’’ means a dispute where the person against whom a com plaint has been made, denies or disputes the allegations contained in the com plaint; (f) “Defect” means any fault, imperfection or short coming in the quality, quantity, potency, purity or standard which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or [under any contract express or implied or] as is claimed by the trader in any manner whatsoever in relation to any goods;

(g) “Deficiency” means any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service; (h) “District Forum” means a Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum established un der Cl. (a) of sec. 9; (i) (j) (i) “Goods” means goods as defined in the sale of Goods Act, 1930 (3 of 1930); “Manufacturer” means a person whoMakes or manufactures any goods or parts thereof; or

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(ii) Does not make or manufacture any goods but assembles parts thereof, made or manufactured by others; or (iii) Puts or causes to be put his own mark on any goods made or manufactured by any other manufacturer. Explanation. Where a manufacturer despatches any goods or part thereof to any branch office maintained by him, such branch office shall not be deemed to be the manufacturer even though the parts so despatched to it are assembled at such branch office and are sold or distributed from such branch office: [(j) “Member” includes the President and a member of the National commission or (k) (l) a State Commission or a District Forum, as the case may be;] “National Commission” means the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission established under CI. (c) of sec. 9: “National” means a notification published in the official Gazette;

(m) “Person” includes, (i) A firm whether registered or not;

(ii) A Hindu undivided family; (iii) A Co-operative society; (iv) Every other association of persons whether registered under the societies Registration Act, 1860 (21of 1860), or not; (n) “Prescribed” means prescribed by the rules made by the State Government, or as the case may be, the Central Government under this Act; [(nn) “regulation” means the regulations made by the national Commission under this Act; [(nnn) “restrictive trade practice” means a trade practice which tends to being about manipulation of price or its conditions of delivery or to affect flow of supplies in the market relating to goods or service in such a manner as to impose on the consumers unjustified costs or restrictions and shall include— (a) delay beyond the period agreed to be a trader in supply of such goods or in providing the services which has led or is likely to lead to rise in the price; (b) any trade practice which requires a consumer to buy, hire or avail of any goods or, as the case may be services as-condition precedent to buying, hiring or availing of other goods or services.] (o) “Services” means service of any description which is made available to potential [users and includes, but not limited to, the provision of] facilities in connection with banking, Financing insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, board or

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INDUSTRIAL LAWS lodging or both, [housing construction] entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service; [(oo) “spurious goods and services” mean such goods and services which are claimed to be genuine but they are actually not so,] (p) “State Commission” means a Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission established in a State under CI (b) of Sec. 9; (q) “Trader” in relation to any goods means “ a person who sells or distributes any goods for sale and includes the manufacturer thereof, and where such goods are sold or distributed in package form, includes the packer thereof”; (r) “Unfair trade practice” means 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) The practice of making any statement, whether orally or in writing or by visible representation which, (i) Falsely represents that the goods are of a particular standard, quality, quantity; gradecomposition, style or model;

(ii) Falsely represents that the service of a particular standard, quality or grade; (iii) Falsely represents any re-built, second-hand, renovated, reconditioned or old goods as new goods; (iv) Represents that the goods or service have sponsorship, approval, performance, characteristics, accessories, uses or benefits which such goods or service do not have; (v) Represents that the seller or the supplier has a sponsorship or approval or affiliation which such seller or supplier does not have (vi) Makes a false or misleading representation concerning the need for, or the usefulness of, any goods or service; (vii) 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 Provided that where a defence is raised to the effect that such warranty or guarantee is based on adequate or proper test, the burden of proof of such defence shall lie on the person raising such defence; (viii) Makes to the public a representation in a form that purports to be (i) A warranty or guarantee of a product or of any goods or service; or

(ii) A promise to replace, maintain or repair an article or any part thereof or to repeat or continue a service until it has achieved a specified result, if such purported warranty or guarantee or promise is materially misleading or if there is no reasonable prospect that A 308
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such warranty, guarantee or promise will be carried out; (ix) Materially misleads the public concerning the price at which a product or like products or goods or service, have been or are, ordinarily sold or provided, and, for this purpose, a representation as to price shall be deemed to refer to the price at which the product or goods or service has or have been sold by sellers or provided by suppliers generally in the relevant market unless it is clearly specified to be the price at which the product has been sold or services have been provided by the person by whom or on whose behalf the representation is made; (x) Gives false or misleading facts disparaging the goods, services or trade of another person; Explanation. For the purposes of CI. (1), a statement that is— (a) Expressed on an article offered or displayed for sale, or on its wrapper or container; or (b) Expressed on anything attached to, inserted in, or accompanying an article offered or displayed for sale or on anything on which the article is mounted for display or sale; or (c) Contained in or on anything is sold, sent, delivered, transmitted or in any other manner whatsoever made available to a member of the public, Shall be deemed to be a statement made to the public by, and only by, the person who had caused the statement to be so expressed, made or contained; (2) Permits the publication of any advertisement whether in any newspaper or otherwise, for the sale or supply at a bargain price, of goods or the services that are not intended to be offered for sale or supply at the bargain price, or for a period that is, and in quantities that are, reasonable, having regard to the nature of the market in which the business is carried on, the nature and size of business, and the nature of the advertisement. Explanation.— For the purposes of CI. (2), “bargaining price” means (a) A price that is stated in any advertisement to be a bargain price, by reference to an ordinary price or otherwise, or (b) A price that a person who reads, hears or sees the advertisement, would reasonably understand to be a bargain price having regard to the prices at which the product advertised or like products are ordinarily sold. (3) Permits— (a) The offering of gifts, prizes or other items with the intention of not providing them as offered or creating impression that something is being given or offered free of charge when it is fully or partly covered by the amount charged in the transaction as a whole; (b) The conduct of any contest, lottery, game of chance or skill, for the purpose of promoting, directly or indirectly, the sale, use or supply of any product or any business interest; [(3A) withholding from the participants of any scheme offering gifts, prizes or other items free A 309

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INDUSTRIAL LAWS of charge, on its closure the information about final results of the scheme. Explanation: for the purposes of this sub-clause, the participants of a scheme shall be deemed to have been informed of the final results of the scheme where such results are within a reasonable time published, prominently in the same newspapers in which the scheme was originally advertised. (4) Permits the sale or supply of goods intended to be used, or are of kind likely to be used, by consumers, knowing or having reason to believe that the goods do not comply with the standards prescribed by competent authority relating to performance, composition, contents. Design, constructions, finishing or packaging as are necessary to prevent or reduce the risk of injury to the person using the goods; (5) Permits the hoarding or destruction of goods, or refuses to sell the goods or to make them available for sale or to provide any service, if such hoarding or destruction or refusal raises or tends to raises or is intended to raise, the cost of those or other similar goods or services.” (6) Manufacture of spurious goods or offering such good for sale or adopting deceptive practices in the provision of Services. (2) Any reference in this Act to any other Act or provision thereof which is not in force in any area to which this Act applies shall be construed to have reference to the corresponding Act or provision thereof in force in such areas. 3. JURISDICTION District Forums : have the Jurisdiction to entertain complaints If the cost of goods or services and compensation asked for is up to rupees twenty lakh. State Commission : has the Jurisdiction to entertain complaints, If the cost of goods or services and compensation asked for is more than rupees twenty lakh , but less than rupees one Crore. The State Commission also has the jurisdiction to entertain appeal against the orders of any District Forum within the State. The State Commission also has the power to call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any District Forum within the State if :(a) it appears that such District Forum has exercised any power not vested in it by law or (b) has failed to exercise a power rightfully vested in it by law, or (c) has acted illegally or with material irregularity.

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National Commission : has jurisdiction to entertain complaints— If the cost of goods or services and compensation asked for exceed rupees one crore then the complaint can be filed before the National Commission at New Delhi. The National Commission besides entertaining the original complaints also has jurisdiction to entertain appeals against the orders of any State Commission; and to call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before, or has been decided by any State Commission: (a) where it appears to it that such Commission has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or (b) has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested, or (c) has acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity. 4. PLACE OF INSTITUTING A CONSUMER COMPLIANT Acomplaint shall be instituted in the District Forum/State Commission/National Commission within the local limits of whose jurisdiction— (a) The opposite party at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, or (b) Any of the opposite party(s), at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides, or carries on business or has a branch office, or personally works for gain, provided that in such case either the permission of the District forum/State Commission/National Commission is given, or the opposite party(s) who do not reside, or carry on business or have a branch office, or personally work for gain, as the case may be, acquiesce in such institution, or (c) The cause of action, wholly or in part, arises. 5. WHO MAY/CAN FILE COMPLAINTS Complaints may be filed with the District Forum/State Commission/National Commission by :1. The consumer to whom such goods are sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or such service provided or agreed to be provided.

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INDUSTRIAL LAWS 2. Any recognised consumer association, whether the consumer to whom goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or service provided or agreed to be provided, is a member of such association or not. one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest with the permission of the District Forum, on behalf of or for the benefit of, all consumers so interested. The Central or the State Government.

3.

4.

Every compliant filed shall be filed along with such amount of fee as may be prescribed.

6. LIMITATION PERIOD FOR FILING OF COMPLAINT The Period of Limitation prescribed for the filing of complaints before District Forum, the State Commission, or the National Commission is two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen. However, if the complainant satisfies the District Forum / State Commission, that he had sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within two years, such complaint may be entertained by it after recording the reasons for condoning the delay. 7. PROCEDURE ON ADMISSION OF COMPLAINT On admission of a complaint, a copy of the complaint is to be referred to the opposite party within 21 days, directing him to give his version of the case within 30 days. This period may be extended by another 15 days. Where the opposite party denies or disputes the allegations or omits or fails to take any action to represent his case within the time provided, the dispute will be settled in the following manner :I. If the Dispute Relates to Goods : Where the complaint alleges a defect in the goods which cannot be determined without proper analysis or test of the goods, a sample of the goods shall be obtained from the complainant, sealed and authenticated in the manner prescribed for referring to the appropriate laboratory for the purpose of any analysis or test whichever may be necessary, so as to find out whether such goods suffer from any other defect. The appropriate laboratory’ would be required to report its finding to the referring authority, i.e. the District Forum or the State Commission within a period of forty- five days from the receipt of the reference or within such extended period as may be granted by these agencies.

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The District Forum / State Commission may require the complainant to deposit with it such amount as may be specified towards payment of fees to the appropriate laboratory for carrying out the tests. On receipt of the report, a copy thereof is to be sent by District Forum/State Commission to the opposite party along with its own remarks. In case any of the parties disputes the correctness of the methods of analysis/test adopted by the appropriate laboratory, the concerned party will be required to submit his objections in writing in regard to the report. After giving both the parties a reasonable opportunity of being heard and to present their objections, if any, the District Forum/Slate Commission shall pass appropriate orders. II. If Dispute relates to Goods not requiring testing or analysis or relates to services: Where the opposite party denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint within the time given by the District Forum / State Commission, it shall dispose of the complaint on the basis of evidence tendered by the parties. In case of failure by the opposite party to represent his case within the prescribed time, the complaint shall be disposed of exparte on the basis of evidence tendered by the complainant. Where during the pendency of any proceeding before the District Forum, it appears to it necessary, it may pass such interim order as is just and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case 8. POWERS OF THE DISPUTE REDRESSAL AGENCIES The District Forum, State Commission and the National Commission are vested with the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure while trying a suit in respect of the following matters:1. The summoning and enforcing attendance of any defendant or witness examining the witness on oath; The discovery and production of any document or other material producible as evidence; The reception of evidence on affidavits: The requisitioning of the report of the concerned analysis or test from the appropriate laboratory or from any other relevant source; Issuing of any commission for the examination of any witness; and Any other matter which may be prescribed.

2. 3. 4

5. 6.

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INDUSTRIAL LAWS They also have the power to :(i) to issue remedial orders against the opposite party.

(ii) to dismiss frivolous and vexatious complaints and to order the complainant to make payment of costs, not exceeding Rs. 10,000 to the opposite party. 9. RELIEF(S) THAT MAY BE GRANTED UNDER THE ACT The District Forum / State Commission / National Commission may pass one or more of the following orders to grant relief to the aggrieved consumer :(a) to remove the defect pointed out by the appropriate laboratory from the goods in question ; (b) to replace the goods with new goods of similar description which shall be free from any defect ; (c) to return to the complainant the price, or as the case may be, the charges paid by the complainant ; (d) to pay such amount as may be awarded by it as compensation to the consumer for any loss or injury suffered by the consumer due to the negligence of the opposite party; Provided that the District Forum shall have the power to grant punitive damages in such circumstances as it deems fit. (e) to remove the defects in goods or deficiencies in the services in question; (f) to discontinue the unfair trade practice or the restrictive trade practice or not to repeat them ;

(g) not to offer the hazardous goods for sale ; (h) to withdraw the hazardous goods from being offered for sale; (i) to cease manufacture of hazardous goods and to desist from offering services which are hazardous in nature; to pay such sum as may be determined by it if it is of the opinion that loss or injury has been suffered by a large number of consumers who are not identifiable conveniently;

(j)

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(k) to issue corrective advertisement to neutralize the effect of misleading advertisement at the cost of the opposite party responsible for issuing such misleading advertisement; (l) to provide for adequate costs to parties.

10. APPEALS (i) Against the orders of District Forums : Any person aggrieved by an order made by the Forum may prefer an appeal to the State Commission within thirty days from the date of the impugned order (ii) Against the orders of State Commission : Similarly, any person aggrieved by any original order of the State Commission may prefer an appeal to the National Commission within thirty days from the date of the impugned order. (iii) Against the orders of National Commission : Any person aggrieved by any original order of the National Commission may prefer an appeal to the Supreme Court. The Appellate authority may entertain an appeal after the said period of thirty days if sufficient cause for not filling the appeal within the stipulated period is shown to its satisfaction. The period of 30 days is to be computed from the date of receipt of the order by the parties concerned. 11. REVISION AGAINST THE ORDER OF STATE COMMISSION Any person aggrieved by any order of the State Commission passed in an appeal against the order of District Forum may file a revision against such an order before the National Commission. The Act does not provide for second appeal and therefore the only remedy is a Revision. If no appeal is preferred against the order, the said order becomes final. 12. ENFORCEMENT OF ORDERS 1. If an interim order made is not complied with, the District Forum/State Commission/ National Commission may order the property of the person, not complying with such order to be attached.

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INDUSTRIAL LAWS 2. Attachment so made remains operative only for more than three months at the end of which, if the non-compliance continues, the property attached can be sold and out of the proceeds thereof, the Forum, State or National Commission may award such damages as it thinks fit to the complainant and shall pay the balance, if any, to the party entitled thereto. If any amount is due from any person under an order made by a District Forum, State or the National Commission, the person entitled to the amount may make an application to the District Forum, State or the National Commission, who may issue a certificate for the said amount to the Collector of the district and the Collector shall proceed to recover the amount in the same manner as arrears of land revenue.

3.

13. PENALTIES Failure or omission to comply with any order of the Forum, State Commission or the National Commission by the party against whom such an order is passed is punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one month, which may extend to 3 years, or with fine of not less than Rs. 2,000 & it may to upto Rs. 10000 or with both.

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