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Table of Contents

Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 2 Who is a Consumer? .................................................................................................................. 4 Is Consumer the King? ............................................................................................................... 4 Consumerism ............................................................................................................................. 5 Need and Reasons for a strong consumerism in India .......................................................... 6 Problems Related to Products ................................................................................................... 6 What is Consumer Protection? ................................................................................................ 13 How Can we Provide Consumer Protection? ........................................................................... 14 Various Laws for protecting Consumer Interests .................................................................... 17 Consumer Protection Act, 1986 ............................................................................................... 22 2002 Amendment .................................................................................................................... 23 Consumer Rights .................................................................................................................. 24 How to Protect these Rights? ................................................. Error! Bookmark not defined. Duties of Consumers ................................................................................................................ 26 Consumer Forums: A Three-Tier Approach ............................................................................. 26 Jurisdiction: District Forum ...................................................................................................... 28 Jurisdiction: State Commission ................................................................................................ 30 Jurisdiction: National Commission ........................................................................................... 34 Consumer Protection The Road Ahead ................................................................................. 35 Consumer Organizations.......................................................................................................... 38 Other Aspects of Consumer Protection Need ......................................................................... 44 Consumer and Advertising ................................................................................................... 44

Consumer and customer are two terms which are often coined interchangeably. Not to mention consumer is an important entity which is the main target audience of any company. The better they serve their target audience i.e. these consumers, the better results are achieved by them. One can say that consumer is the king who governs a kingdom in form of the market. But under no circumstances they can be fooled around by its subjects in form of the companies which are independent entities working in the market. So in order to provide proper protection to the consumers there are various laws which tend to protect them from various misdeeds. One such act is the CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted to provide for better protection of the interests of the consumers the consumers of goods and services as defined under the Act. The legislation, no doubt, has the unique distinction of being the only one in the country made exclusively for the consumers to protect their interests against defective goods and deficient services. The Act envisages a better legal framework within which an ordinary consumer can fight for his rights and get his grievances redressed. It provides for speedy and inexpensive settlement of disputes within limited time-frame, as against civil suits which are costly and time-consuming. The provisions of the Act are in addition to and not in derogation of any other law for the time being in force and are compensatory in nature. The Act provides for the establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at the Central, State and District levels to promote and protect the rights of the consumers and a three-tier quasi-judicial machinery at the district, state and national levels for the settlement of consumer disputes. The consumer movement in India is as old as trade and commerce. For example in Kautilya's Arthashastra, there are references to the concept of consumer protection against exploitation by the trade and industry, short weight and measures, adulteration and punishment for these offences. However, there was no organized and systematic movement actually safeguarding the interests of the consumers. Prior to independence, the main laws under which the consumer interests

were considered were the Indian Penal Code, Agricultural Production, Grading and Marketing Act, 1937, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Even though different parts of India exhibited different levels of awareness, in general, the level of awareness was pretty low. But there was an exception to this ideology of protecting consumer. In the good olden days there was a principle of Caveat emptor, which meant buyer beware governed the relationship between seller and the buyer. In the era of open markets buyer and seller came face to face, seller exhibited his goods, and buyer thoroughly examined them and then purchased them. It was assumed that he would use all care and skill while entering into transaction. The maxim relieved the seller of the obligation to make disclosure about the quality of the product. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation, attached great importance to what he described as the poor consumer, who according to him should be the principal beneficiary of the consumer movement. A Consumer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us we are on him. He is not an interruption to our work; he is the purpose of it. We are not doing a favour to a consumer by giving him an opportunity. He is doing us a favour by giving an opportunity to serve him.

Who is a Consumer? Every individual is a consumer of goods and services. For the purpose of the Consumer Protection, the word, "Consumer, has been defined separately for "goods" and "services". A. For the purpose of "goods", a consumer means a person belonging to the following categories: One who buys or agrees to buy any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised or under any system of deferred payment; It includes any user of such goods other than the person who actually buys goods and such use is made with the approval of the purchaser. A person is not a consumer if he purchases goods for commercial or resale purposes. However, the word "commercial" does not include use by consumer of goods bought and used by him exclusively for the purpose of earning his livelihood, by means of self employment. B. For the purpose of "services , a consumer" means a person belonging to the following categories: Who hires or avails of any service or services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised or under any system of deferred payment. It includes any beneficiary 0f such service other than the one who actually hires or avails of the service for consideration and such services are availed with the approval of such person. The issues relating to consumer welfare affects the entire the population on the planet, everyone is a consumer in one way or the other. Ensuring consumer welfare is the responsibility of the governments of the world. Is Consumer the King? In a free market economy, it is said that consumer is the king. He communicates his decision or wish through price, every rupee representing a ballot paper and the price is the prime regulator of our economic life. He rules the economy through pricing. He

brings about the so-called optimum allocation of scarce economic resources through the all-powerful mechanism of pricing governed by the impersonal and therefore, impartial general relation of demand and supply.

In reality, consumer is not the king. At the most, he is a prince without a penny purse and is often indistinguishable from a surf or pauper. He is the main sufferer of inflation sometimes controlled or otherwise naked. He pays more and earns much less in real terms .He is the one to suffer most from acute shortages of essential commodities. He is the one who is often cheated and fleeced even given shoddy and adulterated goods. Short weight and measures, deceptive packaging, misleading advertising hoarding, profiteering and countless frauds commited by trade on the poor and innocent consumers clearly indicate gross exploitation of the consumers by industry, trade and organized labor. By and large, during the last 40 years the consumer in India has been a victim. Consumers are scattered over the whole country. They are highly disorganized. Individually, they have very weak bargaining power. They are not professional or shrewd buyers. Besides in India, majority of consumers are illiterate, ignorant and usually lack information to make intelligent purchases. In many cases, they are incompetent to protect their interest, particularly when they deal fully with fully organized, united and well-informed professional sellers. Above all apathy indifference and inertia of the public are the perpetual enemies and they are simply appalling. These are serious obstacles to the sound and sustained development of consumerism and consumer protective in India

Consumerism Consumerism is the organized movement of citizens and government to strengthen the rights and power of buyers in relation to sellers to create a transition from the predominantly "sellers market" to a "buyers market" where the choice exercised by the consumer will be influenced by the level of consumer awareness achieved. Consumerism is the process of realizing the rights of the consumer and an ideology which will be a mainstay and a driver of business practices.

Need and Reasons for a strong consumerism in India 1. In a vast country like India, it is very difficult to organize the consumers. The people besides being the backward have linguistic, cultural and religious difference which makes the problems quiet intricate and complex. 2. Majority of the population is illiterate, uneducated, ignorant and ill-informed. 3. Poverty, lack of social awareness, accepting life as it is and passive outlook are some of the factors which make consumer movement difficult to increase. 4. There may not be a positive common objective for the consumers except their desire for safe quality products, for reasonable price and a feeling of strong negative reactions against the products. In wake of large scale production and the variety and choice conferred on the consumers, a consumer needs guidance which can only be appropriately provided by a consumer organization. 5. The advertisement bombarded on the consumers make them quite confused and hence again a need for consumer guidance.

Problems Related to Products The consumer faces a number of serious problems with prices, quality and weights or volumes of products available in the market. While profit motive in any business is not a crime and essential as an incentive for survival and growth of the business, profiteering through illegal trading like black marketing, adulteration etc., and objectionable malpractices such as deceptive packaging, short-weighing etc. are considered as unfair business practices. The following are the problems faced by consumers. These practices pose a problem to consumers. Unless these practices are recognized and dealt with, they are likely to continue to exploit the consumers. They may even become a part of the system and it would become difficult to eradicate them late. 1. Lack of Safety and Quality Control Regulations A number of household appliances and equipments, electrical and mechanical devices are sold in the market as defective affecting the safety of the consumer. As such, there is no check on their production and sale in the market. Many people including women and children sustain injuries or die due to shock, fire, and other accidents either

while suing such defective appliances or due to absence of adequate information on safe handling of such equipments. While in western countries, Consumer Product Safety Commissions take stringent measures to ensure the safety of the user-consumer unfortunately in our country, there is no such authority in our country. Only a small number of about 40 electrical items have been included in the Electrical Appliances Quality Control order. A number of items used by consumers, especially frequently used by consumers, especially frequently used minor electrical items have no quality specifications and these are freely available in the market and the unsuspecting consumer buys and makes use of them at his own risk. 2. Adulteration Adulteration implies that some substances are either added or removed from a product as a result of which its composition nature or quality gets altered. When the seller does not inform the consumer that these changes have taken place, with the intention of cheating him, the product is said to be altered. Even if a product is prepared without changing its composition, but packed and kept under unsanitary conditions and later sold in a contaminated state, the product is covered by definition. The adulterant, in this case, after contamination, may affect the product unknowingly or may have been added unintentionally. This is in contrast to intentional adulteration such as adding water to milk for profit, or stones in rice. There are a number of products in the market which are subject to adulteration, such as food, building materials, textiles, stationary etc. The products which injure consumers most are those which injure consumers most are those which are ingested such as food, water and air. Adulteration is a very serious problem because it is not only exploitative but injurious to the health of consumers if such food is taken. Besides food, air and water, other goods like paints, cement and other building materials can also be adulterated. Textiles too are often mixed with synthetic fibres in their weaves and sold as pure silk or wool. The consumers get attracted by the sheen, softness, drape etc., but they pay more for what they get. In India and other developing countries, adulteration is a very common phenomenon which face in their daily lives e.g., milk with water added by the vendor, spices mixed with foreign matter, which add to the packs sold and may even be

harmful to health. Cheaper quality or old stocks of products mixed with fresh flavored items is another common practice, which is fraudulent one. 3. Imitation Manufacture Indian markets are flooded with all kinds of spurious and substandard goods, some of them often carrying popular brand names or similar sounding brand names of popular manufacturers. Imitation of these names is a deliberate malpractice and amounts to cheating of consumers. Such practices are found commonly prevalent with the consumer goods such as shoes, soaps, toothpastes, medicines, cosmetics etc. Sometimes the labels are tampered with, indicating only a part of the brand name of the consumer and the product is passed to him as a genuine product with the explanation that the labels have been lost or tampered with in transit. Such products are generally of cheap quality and unsafe to handle, but are sold as genuine, safe and expensive products. Many consumers suffer it silently partly because they have faith in salesman and believe him or because of ignorance or lack of information about the product. 4. Conspicuous Consumption The Indian consumers are in the habit of spending a lot of money on occasions such as birth anniversaries, weddings, festivals and receptions etc. as part of family or social tradition and conventions. When they do not have enough money to spend, they resort to borrowing even if the interest is charged at higher percentage. At times, even assets like land, house, jewellry etc. are mortgaged as security to obtain credit. In rural areas specifically, the credit facilities are limited to private moneylenders or pawn brokers who charge a very high interest and ultimately intimidate the borrowers to surrender their assets and even force them to become bonded laborers if money is not returned in time. Lack of proper credit facilities and absence of fair lending regulations have driven families belonging to economically weaker sections of the society to fall an easy prey to these moneylenders. This problem can only be solved by creation of organized credit facilities and introducing poverty alleviation schemes and spread of education among the poor in the society. 5. Unfair Warranties

Consumers are neither familiar with nor understand the full implications of terms like guaranty and warranty. Even some of the terms of the warranty are confusing, ambiguous and are favorable to manufactures. There are no regulations to govern these warranties.. Some warranties cover only the first user / buyer and absolve the manufacturer of any liability towards the second or subsequent users / buyers. Some manufacturers use the term guarantee for a fixed period, say, one year, and repair defective goods or/and change the defective parts free of cost, whereas the term warranty is used to provide free spare parts but the services are charged and collected from the customer. As the terms warranty and guarantee appear to be synonymous, the seller exploits the situation by promising the consumer that both the terms imply the same meaning and land them in trouble for no fault of the consumers. 6. Sale Gimmicks Many manufactures spend a lot of money on sales promotion through large scale advertising, free gifts, discount sales etc. though these are projected as extra benefits to the consumers, they generally have a hidden catch in them, the cost being passed on to the consumers without their becoming aware of it. While a manufacture spends money on these gimmicks the cost of advertising or sales promotion is added to the price of product. The product is sold at the usual price since the customer is already convinced that the products are being sold at a discounted price. The unsuspecting consumer assumes that he gets additional benefits in terms of free gifts, discounted price as introductory offer etc, whereas it is not true in terms. Sometimes the consumer is forced to take certain goods as free gifts whether he need them or not. Such aggressive sales promotion is unfair to the customer as he is easily carried away by these sales gimmicks. 7. Evil Practices of Powerful Multinationals Some multinational companies use powerful media such as television advertising, door to door personal selling, magazines, free gifts etc. to attract innocent customer. They spend too much money to market their products. Sometimes the products which have been banned or become obsolete in developed countries are brought to developing countries and sold in attractive packages. Since they carry an international label, or brand name, consumers believe that these products are of high

quality and buy them even if they have to pay extra. In many cases consumers find it difficult to get their products repaired due to non availability of spare parts which are not produced locally. Some products carry catalogues written in a foreign language, and may contain clauses or terms which the consumers are unable to understand and unwittingly fall an easy victim to the sales tactics of these Multinational Companies. It has to be observed that some advertising norms or codes are adhered to by these companies, but unfortunately such codes are not extended to all consumer products. 8. Massive Profiteering At times, artificial shortages are created by manufacture and sellers, thereby forcing the consumers to pay more when in short supply. During inflationary conditions in the economy, huge sums of money are used to corner food stuff and other essential commodities for the sole purpose of making speculative profits. Massive profiteering by hoarding and black marketing in sale of onions was witnesses in the recent past in Delhi and other areas. Similar situations were also created in the availability of rice, wheat, cement etc. in many parts of the country with a view to make quick profits. Consumers are forced to buy them at a higher price or have to forego their buying of the food stocks. It has become common for the Indian Consumers to face such man-made problems off and on. 9. Prices Every consumer expects that products are made available to him at reasonable prices. At times he does not mind paying a little extra for better quality and service. Prices however determined by a number of factors such as government policy, shortages, ignorance, delivery systems, quality, and market locations, overhead expenses of the seller and the quality of services provided. a) Government Policy: sometimes the Government raises the prices of commodities to help the farmers to raise the prices of commodities to help the farmers to raise the production and sale of certain crops such as sugarcane to help increase exports of sugar and other by products. This is understandable, but when price is raised by traders because of hoarding and creation of artificial shortages, it adds to the woes of the consumers.

b) Shortages: sometimes a crop fails due to unprecedented weather conditions, creating a natural shortage, pushing up prices to discourage demand. Changes in environmental conditions such as a transport workers strike, or a landslide blocking roads can also create local shortage of commodities. Other examples are riots, war, and so on. c) Ignorance: the ignorance of the consumer regarding what he should be paying for a certain product, leads to his exploitation. The reasons may be illiteracy, that is, he is unable to read the maximum retail (MRP) printed on a package, or a monopoly situation exists, whereby a seller can charge at will. Even in the same market there are few stores where goods are sold at fixed prices. In others, bargaining is the rule rather than exception, leaving the consumer guessing whether he has paid in excess even after bargaining about the price. It is common experience to buy a product at one price and find that the same product is cheaper three shops away. Consumers would do well to become aware of prices from which carry standard products. d) Quality: more often than not, adulterated substandard products are priced lower than quality items but this may not always be the case. It is for the consumer to know what he wants and look for the qualities he desires in the product purchased. For packaged goods. Labels indicate details by which quality can be judged. e) Delivery Systems: prices of goods vary according to the manner in which foods and other products are vended or sold. If the item is sold through mobile carts on vans, the prices are lower than if the same item is sold in air conditioned store where their overhead costs are greater. In effect one pays for the convenience and comfort while shopping. f) Market locations: if shops or stores are located in a posh locality the prices are likely to be higher than locations where middle income and lower income groups of people reside. Even though there are so many factors affecting prices, consumers tend to relate price to quality of an item, but this need not necessarily be so. Prices of same quality goods may very because of high or low production costs, overhead expenses,

design, transportation, advertising and other retail costs. High price may also be charged to exploit customers who relate high price of good quality, by perfectly duplicating products of famous and reliable brands. The examples of helmets, Wearing of helmet is mandatory under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1989. Hence, one comes across helmets of various designs with different aesthetic features ant protective qualities in the market, leaving the consumers to make their on choices. Tests conducted on helmets at the centre for Bio-medical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) showed that the price was not correlated to quality. Those tested were in the price range of Rs. 50 to Rs. 425. All the full face helmets (priced between Rs. 392 and Rs. 425) passed the stringent tests, with the cheapest one declared the best. This was so also with the half-face helmets. Similar examples can be for other products as well. 10. Availability Sometimes consumers have to pay higher prices for goods which are not easily available, or settle for cheaper substitutes. This may be due to lack of demand for some items, shortages of production or perhaps short supply resulting from transportation problems and late deliveries. In the case of some food items, availability may be seasonal and therefore some items may not be available at a particular time. 11. Substandard Quality A wide range of products of different sizes and qualities flood the markets as countries are getting more and more industrialized. The consumer, therefore, finds it difficult to choose with confidence, in a sellers market where spurious spare parts of equipment, liquor and adulterated foods abound. In addition to defrauding the consumers, the products of substandard quality create a safety problem also for them. Imitations are so cleverly manufactured that there is no way to tell that they are spurious. Such fake copies of original can lead to serious accidents besides being expensive in terms of replacements costs, fuel use, and harassment. A few examples will illustrate this:

a) Pressure Cookers: A pressure cooker is commonly subjected to change in some parts due to continuous use. These are available cheaply and sold in place of originals. The spurious parts have in many cases been cause of serious accidents. Some years ago a court awarded Rs. 1.2 lakhs as compensation for injury to customer who had suffered on account of the bursting of a new pressure cooker. Consumers should make it practice to buy equipment with a manufacturers guarantee only, better still, one with a certification mark of quality. b) Electrical Appliances: the markets are full of variety of such appliances of all sizes and qualities, both in well known shops and on pavements, being sold like vegetables, except that they are not sold but weight but by price. A number of substandard products are found among plugs and sockets, geysers, toasters and irons and other products which have caused shocks and other accidents while they were being used. It is also important to understand commodities which are brought by weight or in measures. This is because the sellers exploit consumers by resorting to incorrect weights and measures while selling food items or measuring fabrics. The rise of consumerism and the need to resolve the issues faced by consumer in relation to products they purchased, created a significant demand amongst the masses for a well formulated framework to protect consumer interest, which was provided in the form of the Consumer Protection Act.

What is Consumer Protection? Consumer protection refers to a number of activities that are designed to protect consumers from a wide range of practices that can infringe on the rights consumers are believed to possess the market place. These activities stem from a broad and aggressive movement called consumerism. Strangely Consumerism is supported and advocated by many business organizations, and by government to see that these rights of consumers are respected. Consumer protection is essential for healthy economy, because:

We need physical protection of the consumer, for instance, protection against products that are unsafe or endanger health and welfare of a consumer. Protection of the consumer against deceptive and unfair trade practices. Consumer must have adequate right and means of redress against business malpractices and fraud.

Ecological and environmental effects of chemical, fertilizer or refinery complexes then will have to be seriously considered because they pollute water, air and food and endanger human life. Consumer wants due protection against all types of pollution, he wants a healthy environment free from pollution.

Adequate protection of consumer public against the abuse of monopoly position and for restrictive trade practices should be done. Protection delayed is protection denied.

Consumers seek protection, advice and information when their rights are adversely affected. The shift from buyer beware to seller beware has increased the role of government in promoting the consumers rights.

How Can we Provide Consumer Protection? There are three agencies for ensuring consumer protection: 1. Self help; i.e. consumer organization itself 2. Business; by self regulation and by giving a fair deal to the retailers. (Consumer aids); 3. Government; by having special Acts and implementing those laws strictly. A. Legislation- Legislations refers to the laws of the country passed by both the houses of parliament which then receive the accent of the president. In India there are a number of laws promulgated for the protection of the consumer. B. Consumers Aids- Consumers aids are the tools which consumers can use not only in the selection and use of goods but also to protect themselves against exploitative and fraudulent practices of the sellers in the market place. The various aids available to every consumer are the quality certification marks on products and labels, government agencies which can guide consumers to make correct choices; the government agencies are involved in enacting legislation and setting up redressal machinery to protect consumer interests.

The aids available to the consumer can thus be grouped into these categories. Information Consumers require information about products, procedures, services and facilities which can help them to make enlightened decisions in their day to day living. This information can be obtained from a number of sources such as labels on the product, manufacturers catalogues and advertisements, press academics (schools and colleges), buying experiences and method of others Product Safety Product safety implies that a product should not be injurious to health of the consumers. A number of aids are available by which a consumers can ensure that the product consumers purchases are safe to use and consume. The government through its authorized agencies has set up certain recognizable marks of quality, which manufacturers can obtain for certifying their products. Certification schemes are voluntary and carried out on request from manufactures. The marks are Agmark , Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (FPA), Fruits Products Order (FPO), Bureau of Indian Standard Institute(ISI), Eco Mark, etc. Protection Product safety can only be assured to the consumer, if there is an infrastructure legally established to enforce on procedures and manufacturers, the standard laid down for sale of the product. Legislation - The Law as Acts are also a Means of consumer Protection. The government has enacted many laws for this purpose, amending from time to time, to protect consumer interest. However, laws are not enough unless consumers are aware of them, and the implementing machinery is effective enough to protect e consumer in practice. The governments efforts are continuing but consumer themselves need to make the effort directly or through consumer organizations, to take the advantages of the facilities now available for their protection. Consumer Education To protect the consumer various methods may have to be adopted to make the program effective and interesting. Similarly consumer education program should also be carried out using a number of methods like lectures, demonstration, field activities and exploration, experience project work, product testing and evaluation, games and role-plays. A good amount of material can be made available from manufacturers and retailers and similar group of people. A wide variety of materials for consumer education are available in newspaper and magazines, leaflet, radio and television even though they may not directly say so. However, good consumer education material resources are made available by government department,

consumer organization, environmental protection groups etc. Formulating meaningful consumer education programmers and carrying them out successfully is the challenges that consumers education. On the direction of consumer education, the following measures can be taken to reate awareness and educate the consumers. 1) Seminars and workshop should be organized. 2) Whenever possible, effort should be made to promote the concept of consumerism and introduction of consumer education. 3) All consumer education and adult education activities should be encouraged and given support by providing resources persons, funds, by sponsoring relevant information national exploring possibility of mass media, radio television etc. C. Redressal - Individual consumers in India do not consider his complaint worth pursuing because of the time, energy and the high cost involved in obtaining redressal. Efforts need to be made by the government and consumers organization to change the situation in favor of consumers. The consumer should find a simple and easy way to file complaint and get redressal for his grievances within a short period. The mass media like television, radio, newspaper and the like are also widely being use to inform consumer regarding filling of their complaints in case they had grievances. For the protection of consumer rights and for giving suggestion to the government, consumer protection boards have been established. Consumer protection has become a global concern. Any effective policy for consumer has to be based on consumer protection, education and discretion. International organization of consumers union (IOCU) has emphasized the realization that as the marketing of consumer product has crossed material boundaries, consumer protection and advocacy must be international as well. It has sought justice for consumers on a world-wide basis. The main objectives of consumers protection to people not only in the developed countries of the world which are well fortified in consumer protection but also to those in the developing and underdeveloped countries because consumers encounter similar continent in the world. To save consumers from cheating, following measures should be taken.

First of all consumers must stop hibernating and join hands with producer, by influencing production of what they want rather than take what is given to them. Consumers, following the rule of buying carefully, before buying the products should take information related to its quality, prices, measurements, purity, whether suitable as per require or not. Consumer must be familiar to be available literature regarding the important aspects of the products and services. Consumer should beware of untrue and confusing advertisements. For safety and quality, consumers should buy products certified with ISI mark etc. Consumer should demand appropriate receipt/cash memo of the purchased goods. Whenever applicable consumer should obtain guarantee/ warrantee card duly stamped and signed by the seller. Consumer should complain before district forum, State commission or national commission against the selling of faulty objects or inappropriate business behaviors Contribution of voluntary consumer organization should be motivated. Consumers should be made aware of consumer rights Defaulter should not be protected at any stage. They should be punished severely. Consideration should be given to organize the unorganized consumers due to financial problems.

Various Laws for protecting Consumer Interests

The Indian Sale of Goods Act, 1930
This act follows the provisions of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. A contract of sales and goods ensures trademarks are guarded for quality and where sale is by sample. There is no deviation. The quality and fitness of the goods are not implied in the contract of sale. The responsibility of examining the product and deciding on its suitability for consumption is the total responsibility of the buyer.

The Sale of goods Act is based on rules of justice, equity and good conscience. The provisions of this act state that customer is entitled to goods in a fit and consumable condition.

The Agricultural Produce Act, 1937

The efforts of the Government to standardize and control the quality of agricultural produce led to the enactment of the Agricultural Produce Act, 1937. It is also referred to as the Agmark Act and later amended and called the APGM Act, 1986. It also takes care of allied commodities such as spices, ghee, edible oil, butter, food grains, basmati rice, potato and tobacco. The products are graded on the parameters of size, amount of foreign matter etc. that have a direct effect on the quality of the final product. Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 This Act was passed to protect the consumer from consuming substandard quality drugs and cosmetics. It also prevents drugs and cosmetics of substandard quality from being manufactured or marketed. It lays down rules and regulations for the sale, manufacture, import and distribution of drugs and cosmetics in the country. It states that a person cannot stock, sell or distribute drugs unless they have a proper license issued by the State Government for the purpose. The drugs have to be of standard quality and any dealer or manufacturer found dealing or stocking drugs of substandard quality is punishable under law. Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1952 This act was passed to safeguard the consumer from being cheated by manufacturers and traders through the improper use of Names and Emblems of substandard product and its packaging. Provisions of this act are now covered under Bureau of Indian Standard Act, 1986. Indian Standards Institution (ISI) Act, 1952 The Acts function was to provide standards of quality control for various raw materials, product, practices and processes. It came under the purview of ISI Certification Marks Act, 1952. The Indian standards were formulated by Semi Government Bodies established in

1947. The organization was later renamed as the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS), to give the organization statutory powers under the BIS Act, 1986. Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA), 1954 It protects consumers against contaminated and adulterated food, by laying down the guidelines for setting up standards for various food item, termed as the PFA standard. Under the act, a food article is considered adulterated if it is different from that which it is declared to be retains any substance which makes it injurious of is prepared of packed of kept in unhygienic conditions or contains impurities. Punishment if found guilty of indulging in adulteration- 3 years imprisonment and/or fine of Rs.5000 The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954 This Act prohibits misleading ads relating to drugs, advertisements of drugs alleged to possess magic qualities and remedies for certain scheduled diseases and disorders. This schedule consists of 54 diseases. Section 7 of this Act provides that whoever contravenes this act shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment of six months to one year and/or fine Essential Commodities Act, 1955 Some products have been declared essential for life by the Central Government and are regulated by the Central Government. Some of these are: Cattle Fodder, Iron, Coal, Steel, Automobiles parts, Paper, Cotton and Woolen textiles, Petroleum and its Products, Drugs and Food, Raw Jute and Cotton Under this law, all traders are required to display the prices of essential goods of mass consumption at their shops. The offender can be imprisoned for 3-5 years. The Act was amended in 1974 and stricter provisions introduced against hoarders, black marketers and profiteers. Trade and Merchandise Act, 1958 This act provides for the registration of trademarks and prevents the use of fraudulent marks on merchandise. It acts as a tool for quality control and prevents the manufacturing and trading of spurious and duplicate goods. It provides for registration in respect of particular goods through the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks. It provides

penalty for applying false trade mark and trade description- 2 years with/without fine. The offender can be liable for civil and criminal proceedings. Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Act, 1969 This Act was setup to prevent any company to indulge in monopolistic, restrictive unfair trade practices. It enables consumers to approach the commission for justice against exploitation by monopolies and indulgence by traders and manufacturers in restrictive trade practices. All public sector undertakings like Railways, banks, nationalized insurance corporations, telecommunication departments, airlines etc, are all kept out from the purview of the act. Through the Amendment Act 1984, sections 36A to E were introduced to curb unfair trade practices. The Hire Purchase Act, 1972 This Act fixes a statutory interest rate on all hire-purchase transactions. It prevents sellers from charging exorbitant interest on hire purchase deals. Once the hirer or the buyer has paid a certain percentage of the total amount of a certain number of installments, as specified in the agreement the seller cannot take away the goods for non-payment. He can only seek a court order for recovery of dues. It also provides for warranties and guarantees on the goods hired or bought. Although the act was passed in 1972, it has been withdrawn twice and it remains in suspended animation. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 It deals with the prevention and control of pollution in order to ensure the purity of water pollution in order to ensure the purity of water for use by consumers. It restricts the discharge of industrial wastes into waters of rivers, streams and wells. Transgression is punishable by fine and imprisonment. Prevention of Black-marketing and maintenance of supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980 It makes black marketing an offense and protects the consumer by maintaining regular supplies of essential commodities. Offenders are strictly punishable under this Act. The AIR (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

This Act provides for the prevention, control and removal of pollution from the air we breathe. Contravention of any of the provisions is liable for punishment and fine Standards of Weight and Measures Act, 1985 It was passed for the purpose of uniformity in the enforcement of the Standard Weights and Measures Act, 1976. It provides effective protection and covers all measuring instruments used in buying and selling industrial production and those used for human health and safety. A complaint can be filed on plain paper with either the local Weights and Measures Inspectors or Controller of Weights and Measures of the states/UTs. If this proves trifle, the same may be filed in any District Court, High Court or the Supreme Court as per procedures prescribed by them. The Environment Protection Act, 1986 It provided anti-pollution laws in the country. The special features are: 1. Any complaint made by the public to the government has to be acted upon within 60 days. If not, the complainant can go to court against the body under complainant as well as the Government, State, or Central as case maybe 2. If any solid, liquid, gas is present in the environment which is injurious to health, stringent penalties are imposed. Punishment- 5 year imprisonment and Rs.1 lakh fine or both. Maximum imprisonment of 7 years and additional fine of Rs.5000 if contravention continues. Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 This act was passed in the parliament to replace the ISI act, 1952.It has been for standardization marketing and quality certification of goods. It operates a Certification Marks Scheme under the Act to certify products conforming to the relevant standards set by the bureau. The BIS Certifications Marks Scheme is mandatory for a number of products involving hazards to health and safety to life. Five new products are added- Natural Mineral water, capacitors for electrical fan motors, inhibited mineral insulating oils and Deltamethrin F. The Railways Claims Tribunal Act, 1987

It establishes a railway tribunal which inquires and determines the claims against the loss, damage, deterioration or non delivery of goods or animals entrusted to it for transportation or for refund of fares or compensation for death or injury to passengers in railway accidents. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), 1992 All powers to regulate the stock exchanges under the Securities Contract Act, 1956 have been vested with SEBI. All powers to regulate the capital issues in the primary market under Capital Issue Act, 1947 are also vested with the SEBI. One of the most important objectives of SEBI is to protect the interests of investors. It has been stated in the preamble of the SEBI Act. The Information Technology Act, 2000 The electronic data and its transmission are vulnerable to unauthorized external interference from criminals and persons having vested interests. The IT Act, 2000 helps to regulate communications, trade and commerce and prevents computer crime in the country. It helps protect the peoples rights, data protection and security for banking and financial sectors. Electronic Wires, Cables, Appliances and Accessories Act, 1993 It makes it mandatory for seven household electrical appliances and accessories to be sold only under ISI quality Certification issued by BIS. The order covers electrical such as three pin plugs, socket outlets, switches for domestic and similar purpose, electric iron immersion water heater, radiators and stoves.

Consumer Protection Act, 1986

This law is based on the principle of self help to protect against all kinds of exploitative and unfair dealings such as overpricing, defective goods and cheating. The Act has two important implications for the consumer: 1. The consumer has right to complain to an authority 2. The consumer can complain for any loss of injury suffered on account of the negligence of the manufacturer

The Act applies to all goods and services in both private and public sectors except those rendered free of charge or under a personal service contract. The redressal forums are not guided by any complicated procedures. There is no fee for filing appeal or a need to seek the assistance of a lawyer. DISTRICT FORUM STATE COMMISSION NATIONAL COMMISSION SUPREME COURT

2002 Amendment
1. Creation of Benches of National commission and State Commission as well as holding of these commissions 2. Period within which the complaints are to be admitted, notices are to be issued to opposite party and the complaints are to be decided, prescribed; similar provisions also made in respect of appeals 3. No adjournment to be ordinarily allowed without speaking order giving reasons 4. Pecuniary limits of jurisdictions of the consumer disputes redressal agencies enhanced so that the District Forum are able to deal with complaints involving value of goods or services and claims compensations up to Rs. 20 Lakhs (against Rs 5 lakhs at present), fixing the pecuniary limit of jurisdiction of state commission from Rs 20 lakhs up to Rs 1 crore (as against above Rs 5 lakhs up to Rs 20 lakhs at present) 5. Provision made for depositing, either fifty per cent of the amount of

compensations or fine for the amounts mentioned below whichever are less, before admission of appeal, namely: Rs 25,000 in case of appeal to a State Commission from the District Forum; Rs 35,000 in case of appeal to the National Commission from State Commission

Rs 50,000 in case of appeal to the Supreme Court from the National Commission 6. Services availed for commercial purposes from the purview of the consumer

disputes redressal agencies, excluded 7. Provisions of the Act extended to services providers indulging in unfair or restrictive trade practices or offering services which are hazardous 8. Sale of spurious goods or services brought within the meaning of unfair trade practices 9. Express conferment of the powers of Judicial Magistrate of the first class on the consumer disputes redressal agencies with a view of trying offences under the Act

Consumer Rights
1. Right to Safety Means right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services, which are hazardous to life and property. The purchased goods and services availed of should not only meet their immediate needs, but also fulfill long term interests. Before purchasing, consumers should insist on the quality of the products as well as on the guarantee of the products and services. They should preferably purchase quality marked products such as ISI, AGMARK, etc. 2. Right to be Informed Means right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices.Consumer should insist on getting all the information about the product or service before making a choice or a decision. This will enable him to act wisely and responsibly and also enable him to desist from falling prey to high pressure selling techniques. 3. Right to Choose Means right to be assured, wherever possible of access to variety of goods and services at competitive price. In case of monopolies, it means right to be assured of satisfactory quality and service at a fair price. It also includes right to basic goods and services. This is because unrestricted right of the minority to choose can mean a denial for the

majority of its fair share. This right can be better exercised in a competitive market where a variety of goods are available at competitive prices. 4. Right to be Heard Means that consumer's interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums. It also includes right to be represented in various forums formed to consider the consumer's welfare. The Consumers should form non-political and noncommercial consumer , organizations which can be given representation in various committees formed by the Government and other bodies in matters relating to consumers. 5. Right to Seek Redressal Means right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers. It also includes right to fair settlement of the genuine grievances of the consumer. Consumers must make complaint for their genuine grievances. Many a times their complaint may be of small value but its impact on the society as a whole may be very large. They can also take the help of consumer organisations in seeking redressal of their grievances. 6. Right to Consumer Education This means the right to acquire the knowledge and skill, to be an informed consumer throughout life. Ignorance of consumers, particularly of rural consumers, is mainly responsible for their exploitation. They should know their rights and must exercise them. Only then real consumer protection can be achieved with success. UN initiative for Consumer Protection The U.N guidelines for consumer protection are meant to achieve the following objectives: a) To assist countries in achieving or maintaining adequate protection for their population as consumers; b) To facilitate production and distribution patterns responsive to the needs and desires of consumers; c) To encourage high levels of ethical conduct for those engaged in the production and distribution of goods and services to consumers;

d) To assist countries in curbing abusive business practices by all enterprises at national and international levels which adversely affect consumers; e) To facilitate the development of independent consumer groups; f) To further international cooperation in the field of consumer protection; g) To encourage the development of market conditions which provide consumers with greater choice at lower price.

Duties of Consumers Critical awareness: The responsibility to be more alert, and questioning about the price and quality of goods and services we use. Action: The responsibility to assert ourselves, and act to ensure that we get a fair deal. As long as we remain passive consumers, we will continue to be exploited. E.g.: MRP is negotiable. Social concern: The responsibility to be aware of the impact of our consumption on other citizens, especially disadvantaged or powerless groups whether in the local, national or international community. Environmental awareness: The responsibility to understand the environmental consequences of our consumption. We should recognize our individual and social responsibility to conserve natural resources and protect the earth for future generations. E.g.: car pooling Solidarity: The responsibility to organize, and come together as consumers to develop the strength to influence, promote and protect our own interests.

Need for Consumer Awareness Consumer Awareness Initiative Government & NGOs

Consumer Forums: A Three-Tier Approach The Consumer Protection Act provides for a three-tier approach in resolving consumer disputes. The three levels of consumer forums or courts created by the Act are as follows:

1. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (District Forum) in each district level. 2. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (State Commission) at the state level. 3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (National Commission) at the National level. The District Forum and State Commissions are formed by states with the permission of the Central Government while the National Commission is established by the Central Government. These forums have not taken away the jurisdiction of the civil courts but instead have provided an alternative remedy. 1. DISTRICT FORUM Composition: Section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act provides that each District Forum shall consist of the following: 1 President and 2 other Members (one of whom must be a woman) [Section 10] President: A person who is, or has qualified to be a district judge Members: Persons of ability, integrity and standing, and having adequate knowledge or experience of, or having shown capacity in dealing with problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration. The objective behind inclusion of the non-judicial members is to impart a balance to the functioning of the District Forum by ensuring that members are able to understand the economic and social impact of the matters. The inclusion of 1 lady member ensures that the matters are viewed from a womans angle too. Appointing Authority: Every appointment of the President and members of the District Forum is made by the State Government on the recommendations of a selection committee consisting of the following: 1. President of the State Commission (Chairman) 2. Secretary, Law Department of the State (Member)

3. Secretary in charge of the department dealing with consumer affairs in the state (Member) Terms of Office: Section 10(2) of the Consumer Protection Act provides that every member of the District Forum is to hold office for a term of 5 years or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. However, he/she shall not be eligible for re-appointment. Vacancy: A vacancy in the office of president or member may occur after the expiry of his term, or by his death, resignation or removal. The Consumer Protection Act does not make any specific provision for removal of president and members of District Forum. But, the consumer protection rules made by various states provide for such removal in case he/she has: Been Adjudged an insolvent or Been convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude or Become physically or mentally incapable of performing his duties or Has acquired such financial interest in the matter as would prejudicially affect his functions as president or member or Has abused his position so as to tender his continuance to office prejudicial to public interest. Terms of Conditions of Service: Section 10(3) of the Consumer Protection Act states that the salary or honorarium, and other allowances payable to, and the other terms and conditions of services of the members shall be as prescribed by the State Government. Different states have different rules for the same.

Jurisdiction: District Forum

Pecuniary Jurisdiction:

District Forum entertains cases where the value of the claim is upto Rs 20,00,000. Any claim exceeding this limit is beyond the jurisdiction of the forum. The limit of Rs 20,00,000 is with regard to the value of the claim filed by the party. The value of goods or services in question or value of the relief granted is not relevant for this purpose. Territorial Jurisdiction: Every District Forum has definite geographical limits within which it can exercise its jurisdiction. A case is supposed to fall within such territory when at the time of the complaint: The party against whom the claim is made actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain in that area, or Where there are more than one opposite party, each such party actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain in that area, or Where there are more than one opposite party, and any such party actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain in that area, provided the other parties not so residing or working agrees, or the District Forums gives permission in this regard, or The cause of action, wholly or in part, arises in that area. Appellate Jurisdiction: District Forum is the lowest rung of the ladder of the consumer courts. Hence, this is not an appellate court i.e no appeal lies in this court. 2. STATE COMMISSION The State Commission, after the District Forum, is next in the hierarchy of consumer redressal forums under the Consumer Protection Act. Composition: 1 President and 2 Members (one of whom must be a woman) [Section 16] President: A person who is , or has been a judge of a high court.

Members: Persons of ability, integrity and standing and having adequate knowledge or experience of, or having shown capacity in dealing with problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration. Appointing Authority: The President of a State Commission is appointed by the State Government after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court. Other members of the Commission are appointed by the State Government on the recommendation of a selection committee consisting of following: 1. President of the State Commission (Chairman) 2. Secretary of the Law Department of the State (Member) 3. Secretary in charge of department dealing with consumer affairs in the State (Member) Terms of Office: Section 16(3) of the Act provides that every member of the State Commission shall hold office for 5 years or upto the age of 67 years whichever is earlier and he/she is not eligible for re-appointment. Vacancy: Rules as to the vacancy arising in the office of the President or any other member are similar to those as in District Forum. Terms and Conditions of Service: The salary or honorarium, and other allowances payable to, and the other terms and conditions of services of the members shall be as prescribed by the State Government.

Jurisdiction: State Commission

Pecuniary Jurisdiction:

The State Commission can entertain cases where the value of the claim exceeds Rs 20,00,000 but falls within the upper limit of Rs 1,00,00,000. Any claim exceeding Rs 1,00,00,000 is beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission. Territorial Jurisdiction: A suit can be instituted in the State Commission within whole local limits: The party against whom the claim is made actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, or Where there are more than one opposite party, each such party actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, or Where there are more than one opposite party, and any such party actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, provided the other parties not so residing or working agrees, or the State Commission gives permission in this regard, or The cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.

Appellate Jurisdiction: Section 17(a)(ii) of the Consumer Protection Act empowers the State Commission to adjudicate upon the appeals made against the order of the District Forums. Any person aggrieved by the order made by the District Forum may prefer an appeal against such order within 30 days from the date of the order. However, the State Commission may entertain an appeal after the expiry of 30 days if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for delay. Importantly, the period of 30 days is counted from the date of order but from the date when the order is communicated to the appellant. Revisional Jurisdiction: Section 7(b) states that the State Commission may 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, where State Commission is of the view that the District Forum: Has exercised jurisdiction which it was not entitled to, or Has failed to exercise such jurisdiction which it was entitled to, or Has exercised its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity. Such revisional jurisdiction may also be exercised by the Commission on its own or on an application of a party. 3. NATIONAL COMMISSION The National Commission is the highest in the three level hierarchy of the consumer forums. Composition: 1 President and 4 other Members (one of whom must be a woman) President: A person who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court. Members: Persons of ability, integrity and standing and having adequate knowledge or experience of, or having shown capacity in dealing with problems relating to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration. Appointing Authority: The President of the Commission is appointed by the Central Government on the recommendations of the selection committee which consists of following: A person who is a judge of the Supreme Court, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India as the Chairman. Secretary in the Department of Legal Affairs in the Government of India as Member. Secretary of the department dealing with consumer affairs in the Government of India as Member.

Prior to the appointment, the President and members of the National Commission have to undertake that he does not and will not have any such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as such member. Terms of Office: Section 20(3) of the Act provides that every member of the National Commission is to hold office for a term of 5 years or upto the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier and he/she is not eligible for re-appointment. Vacancy: A vacancy in the office of President or a member may occur after the expiry of his term, or by his death, resignation, or removal. The President or a member may resign his office in writing under his hand addressed to the Central Government, or he can be removed from his office in accordance with the provisions of r 13 under the Consumer Protection Rules 1987. These provisions state that the Central Government may remove President or any other member from his office, who: Has been adjudged an insolvent. Has been convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the Central Government, involve moral turpitude, or Has become physically or mentally incapable of acting as the President of the member, or Has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the President or a member, or Has so abused his position as to render his continuance in office prejudicial to the public interest, or Remains absent in 3 consecutive sitting except for reasons beyond his control.

Importantly the President or any member shall not be removed from his office on grounds specified in the last 3 clauses except on an inquiry held by Central Government

in accordance with such procedure as it may specify in this behalf and finds the President or a member to be guilty of such ground. Terms and Conditions of Service: Section 20(2) states the terms and conditions of service of the President and the members of the Commission as follows: 1. The President of the National Commission is entitled to salary, allowances and other perquisites as are available to a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court. 2. The members, if sitting on full-time basis are entitled to a consolidated honorarium of Rs 10,000 per month or if sitting on part time basis, a consolidated honorarium of Rs 500 per day of sitting. 3. The President and the members are entitled to traveling and daily allowances on official tours at the same rates as are admissible to group A Officers of the Central Government. 4. The President and the members of the National Commission are entitled to conveyance allowance of Rs 150 per day of its sitting or a sum of Rs 1.500 per month, as may be opted by them.

Jurisdiction: National Commission Pecuniary Jurisdiction: The National Commission can entertain matters only where the value of the claim exceeds Rs 1,00,00,000. Territorial Jurisdiction: The territorial jurisdiction of the National Commission extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the Consumer protection Act 1986 is applicable only if the cause of action arises in India. If the cause of action arises out of India, the National Commission has no jurisdiction over the matter as it can not be tried in India under the Act. Appellate Jurisdiction:

The National Commission has the jurisdiction to entertain appeals against the order of any State Commission. The appeal may be made within 30 days from the date of the order of the State Commission. However, the National Commission may entertain an appeal filed after the expiry of 30 days if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing the appeal within the given time. Revisional Jurisdiction: Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act states that the National Commission can call for records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any State Commission if it is of the view that the State Commission: Has exercised jurisdiction which it is not entitled to, or Has failed to exercise such jurisdiction which it was entitled to, or Has exercised its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.

The revisional jurisdiction is available to the National Commission only in cases where there has been wrongful, illegal and improper exercise of jurisdiction or failure to exercise jurisdiction on the part of the State Commission. However, the National Commission has declared the limitation for filing a revision petition of 90 days, which is also declared under the other statutory provisions.

Consumer Protection The Road Ahead

The following is the list of proposed consumer Charter of Rights that would resuscitate, in a way, the old time consumer sovereignty. The principles behind this charter are consumer welfare and care for the citizenry. It has a passionate plea to recognize the status of the consumer and acknowledge that he has certain basic rights vis--vis government and business.
1. The right to know the price

This means the manufacturing industry should adopt a unit pricing system. It the brand name and the name of the producer can be printed, there should be no difficulty in printing the retail price also.

Mandatory unit pricing will enable the customer to do a little comparison and make informed purchase decisions. Other benefits of painting the retail price on every commodity are: Customer will not be overcharged The unpleasant necessity of haggling over prices will be eliminated Healthy competition among manufacturers will be created. This will tend to bring the prices down Shoppers will be able to choose articles according to their budgets as they will know prices of different commodities before actually buying.
2. The right to be informed about the retail price of selected essential commodities daily

This means that both television and radio should, at a fixed time daily, announce the prevailing retail prices of a number of essential commodities in the city concerned. This preknowledge will fortify the customer from being overcharged. Retailers also will be cautious in demanding excessive prices and thus a sobering effect on the market place. This may also mean greater popularity of the electronic media.
3. The right to be told the date of expiry of canned foods

This means that processor of foodstuffs should give the date on each can after which the ingredients become unfit for consumption. At present, only the date of manufacture is given. Often stocks of tinned foods pile upon the shelves of grocers to rot as the customers want the ones on which the most recent date of manufacture is given. The contents maybe good for another year or so but are wrongly supposed to be a cause of health hazards. Thus, not giving the date of expiry is working against the interest of companies engaged in canning foods. If the system of giving the date of manufacturer has worked in the case of medicines to the satisfaction of all concern why should it not work in the cases of tinned food incomprehensible. The customer infact would be more willing to buy the item if the date of expiry given on it has not elapsed.
4. The right to get goods at a fair price

To protect the consumer interest some via media between statutory control of prices and doing nothing should be found. It is suggested that government identify a selected number of commodities of daily us. Every industry has its all India has its all-India association and government officials should meet representatives of these associations and

discuss the question of the industry concerned voluntarily fixing retail prices which are fair to all concerned. If strong public opinion is created by the press and consumers over the country, governments hands would be strengthened to persuade the industrial sector producing consumer goods of common use to volunteer a formula for determining a fair price.
5. The right to have goods of satisfactory quality

This means the quality of products offered for sale must be assured. For consumer welfare, government experts and leaders of industry should get together and find a workable solution. But for the product which directly affect public health, minimum standards of quality should be laid down. Nobody has the right to endanger the health of other citizens.
6. The right to fair trading

This means that customers should not be vulnerable to the trick of the trade. A section of unscrupulous merchants indulge in malpractices. These practices are common in the market place. In such circumstances, a customer has little chance to getting a fair deal. Steps should be taken both by top business leaders and administrative agencies to ensure fair trading. What measures to take maybe discussed by representatives of these groups.
7. The right to choose

This means that a variety of quality goods be available at competitive prices. What customers desire is honest alternatives and that too being offered in an honest manner.
8. The right to be informed

This means that customers want to know all about the product because the basic rule of elementary economics is that the better informed the customer, the greater will be the competition based on price and quality in the marketplace. Competition generates competitive energies in manufacturing process which result in many inventions and innovations. They will further advance the technological growth in many ways.

Competition is the life of trade. All efforts are made by rival industrial concerns to improve the quality of their products. All the same time the cost of production has to be reduced. This is made more possible if productivity is increased.

Consumer Organizations
Consumer Organizations
Consumer organizations are advocacy groups that seek to protect people from corporate abuse. Unsafe products, predatory lending, false advertising are all examples of corporate abuse. Consumer organizations also help consumers to be well-informed about important aspects that we tend to ignore such as verifying the accuracy of the information given on product labels. Consumer organizations may operate via protests, campaigning or lobbying. Consumer organizations inform consumers about policies, rights and duties through which they can promote healthy consumption of goods and services without violating consumer laws. The aim of consumer organizations may be to establish and to attempt to enforce consumer rights. Effective work has also been done, however, simply by using the threat of bad publicity to keep companies' focus on the consumers' point of view.

List of Customer Organization

CERC (Consumer Education and Research Centre) FEDCOT (Federation of Consumer Organisations in Tamil Nadu) Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group Consumer Voice SMN Consumer Protection Council Consumer Guidance Society of India CUTS (Consumer Unity of Trust Society) Ministry of Consumer Affairs Mumbai Grahak Panchayat CONCERT (Centre for Consumer Education Research, Teaching, Training and Testing) Bureau of Indian Standards

Consumer Education and Research Centre is the leading consumer rights organisation in India. CERC is a non profit, non government body, dedicated to the protection and promotion of consumer interests through active use of research, media, law, advocacy and information dissemination. CERC does not belong to any political party, nor does it subscribe to any political ideology.

CERC is recognised as a research institute by the Government of India and as a consumer organisation by the Government of Gujarat. The United Nations has recognised CERC as one of the approved non government organisations. Goals

Ensure total consumer safety against unsafe products and services through education, research, awareness campaign and dissemination of the findings of the comparative testing of consumer products and product information. Establish transparency and accountability of business and industry, including utility services and the public sector; Resolve individual complaints; Protect the environment

FEDCOT (Federation of Consumer Organisations in Tamil Nadu)

The Federation of Consumer Organisations of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, well known by its acronym, FEDCOT, is a nation-wide non-governmental organisation that is voluntary nonprofitable, non-political, civic-minded, secular and registered under Societies Act (Registration Number 227/90) to work for the promotion and development of consumers interest and their welfare. Freedom fighter R.R.Thalavai was responsible for the founding of the organisation in 1990.It is an umbrella body of more than 350 registered consumer associations in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. It is one of the largest consumer organisations in the country and in Asia working at grass-roots level. It embraces people from different walks of life. It is significant that sixty percentage of the member councils are in rural areas. FEDCOT is a consumer movement of the people, by the people and for the people. It is concerned with human values. Vision of FEDCOT Quality of life. Its main concern is not only value for money but also quality of life. Achieving this quality of life is FEDCOTs long-term vision. Objectives

To promote a network of organisations working for consumer awareness and for the promotion of consumers interest.

To strengthen the growth of the organised consumer movement in India. To resolve consumer issues and educate on the rights and responsibilities of consumers.

To promote through the purchasing power of consumers a needoriented development that will ensure socio- economic justice and environmental quality of life for all.

To identify issues and to pool resources for campaign, lobbying and policy advocacy. To provide relevant and updated information. To maintain liaison with the governments at the Centre and the State.

Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group

Established in 1985, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) has grown out to be one of the country's leading consumer advocacy groups. Instrumental in running campaigns for greater access to information, improved functioning of public utilities, greater transparency and accountability in governmental and private sector functioning, and protection of our open spaces and natural environment, CAG plays a vital role in the growth of consumerism in our country. CAG specializes in attending issues that affect the common man's life such as lack of hygiene, pollution of our natural resources, inaccessible healthcare facilities, corruption and lack of accountability for the government revenue from tax sources. Consumer Guidance Society of India The Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) is a consumer rights organisation based in Mumbai, India. It was the earliest consumers organisation in India, founded by nine women in 1966 , and became the first to conduct formal product testing in 1977. CGSI publishes a magazine, Keemat. Consumers have often been made to endure sub-standard products, very high prices, hazardous drugs, never ending shortage of goods and many more injustices. To fight against these odds 9 ladies in Delhi came together to form Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI).

Association for Consumers Action on Safety and Health Association for Consumers Action on Safety and Health (ACASH) is a consumer organization that focuses on health-related consumer issues. It has programs aimed at the

general public promoting consumer rights and overall dispersion of information regarding consumer safety. Founded by a group of doctors, lawyers and other eminent personalities, ACASH today helps consumers in India through education & awareness, training, developing IEC (Information, Education and Communication) material, networking, advocacy and lobbying and follow-up action. A member of Consumers International since 1990, ACASH is also a member of Globalink, International Network of Women Against Tobacco (INWAT), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), Health Action International (HAI), Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI). Consumer Unity of Trust Society

CUTS International (Consumer Unity & Trust Society) began its journey in 1983 in Rajasthan, from a rural development communication initiative, a wall newspaper Gram Gadar (Village Revolution). This monthly is published regularly and has been instrumental in providing a forum for the oppressed classes to get justice. On seeing Gram Gadar, Rubens Ricupero, the immediate past Secretary-General of UNCTAD observed: It confirmed my view that often the simple lack of awareness lies at the root of so much misery.

In 1983, CUTS was a small voluntary group of concerned citizens operating out of a garage on a zero budget at Jaipur. Today, its annual budget exceeds US$2.5mn or Rs13crores. The organisation consists of five programme centres and one resource centre in India (at Jaipur with headquarters, Chittorgarh, Calcutta and New Delhi), two resource centres in Africa (at Lusaka, Zambia and Nairobi, Kenya) and one resource centre in London, UK. CUTS is probably the only Indian NGO with such overseas operations. The current staff strength is over 130 persons, of which one third are females at managerial levels too.

CUTS is registered since 1984, under the Rajasthan Societies Registration Act, 1958, the FCRA and under Sec: 80G of the Income Tax Act. It is governed by a 12-member Executive Committee, which is elected every three years from a general body of 350 life members and 150 institutional members.

With the Vision of Consumer sovereignty in the framework of social justice and equality, within and across borders the activities of CUTS, as a research, advocacy and networking organisation working on several areas of public interest, are divided into:

Consumer protection, International trade and development, Competition, investment and economic regulation, Human development, and Consumer safety.

Ministry of Consumer Affairs The Department of Consumer Affairs under Ministry of Consumer Affairs,Food & PD is responsible for the formulation of policies for Monitoring Prices, availability of essential commodities, Consumer Movement in the country and Controlling of statutory bodies like Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Weights and Measures. The Department is entrusted with the following works:

Internal Trade Inter-State Trade: The Spirituous Preparations (Inter-State Trade and Commerce) Control Act, 1955 (39 of 1955).

Control of Futures Trading: the Forward Contracts (Regulations) Act, 1952 (74 of 1952).

The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (10 of 1955) (Supply Prices, and Distribution of Essential Commodities not dealt with specifically by any other


Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supply of Essential Commodities Act, 1980 (7 of 1980). Persons subjected to detention thereunder.

Regulation of Packaged Commodities. Training in Legal Metrology. Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1952 (12 of 1952). Standards of Weights and Measures. The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 (60 of 1976).

The Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 (63 of 1986).

Consumer Cooperatives. All attached or subordinate offices or other organizations concerned with any of the subject specified in this list including Forward Markets Commission, Mumbai.

Monitoring of Prices and Availability of essential commodities. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (68 of 1986). Consumer Welfare Fund. (CWF)

Mumbai Grahak Panchayat Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) is a registered voluntary consumer organization established in 1975. It has more than 20,000 members in and around Mumbai (Bombay) to whom it supplies about 75 essential commodities at their door-step, every month.MGP's joint purchase and distribution system has been acclaimed by Consumers International which supports, links and represents consumer organizations all over the world.To enable consumers to exercise their choice, especially before festivals, MGP also has Consumer Plazas at different locations in the city, for 10 days every year. Items like readymade clothes, bed sheets, bags, sarees, utensils, crockery are sold at reasonable rates. MGPs Consumer Protection Wing has filed a number of public interest petitions to protect consumers' interests.MGPs Consumer Education Wing organizes consumer awareness camps, workshops, seminars for students and teachers.MGPs Study and Research Wing undertakes consumer research and provides the base for launching various consumer interest campaigns.An in-house newsletter Grahak is sent to all members, free of cost. A number of priced publications are also available.MGP has a number of Complaint Guidance Centres all over Mumbai which give free guidance to consumers having complaints.MGP also has a new Environment Wing which looks after matters of environmental interest. Bureau of Indian Standards The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body of India is involved in the development of technical standards (popularly known as Indian Standards), product quality and management system certifications and consumer affairs. It resolves to be the leader in all matters concerning Standardization, Certification and Quality.

In order to attain this, the Bureau strives:

To provide efficient timely service. To satisfy the customers' needs for quality of goods and services. To work and act in such a way that each task, performed as individuals or as corporate entity, leads to excellence and enhances the credibility and image of the Organization.

BIS would achieve these objectives by working in close cooperation with all concerned organizations and by adopting appropriate management systems, motivating and ensuring active participation of all the employees.


Harmonious development of standardization, marking and quality certification To provide new thrust to standardization and quality control To evolve a national strategy for according recognition to standards and integrating them with growth and development of production and exports.

VOICE Society Voluntary Organization in Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE) strives to be the voice of and for the consumer that the governments and other statutory / regulatory bodies of the country seldom hear. The primary focus of this NGO is to establish informed consumers in India. Information dispersed to consumers through VOICE includes corporate negligence / misconduct on issues such as consumer safety or customer satisfaction, your rights as a consumer to get value for your money, and the recourse that can be taken if your consumer rights are defied. Founded by students and teachers of the University of Delhi in 1983, it was registered as charitable public trust in 1986, the same year the consumer protection act came into being.

Other Aspects of Consumer Protection Need

Consumer and Advertising
In a free enterprise economy, there are thousands of entrepreneurs or businessmen to producegoods for the society. The aim of entrepreneur is to earn as much money profits as possible. The desire for profits causes businessmen to compete with one another to produce those goods which consumers wish to buy. When the consumers raise their demand for

particular good, price of that good will rise and it will lead to more profits. Thus, in a free enterprise economy, goods and their amount are decided by the preferences of the consumers. Thus, in a free enterprise economy consumer is the king. Sufficient varieties of an item are available in a free enterprise economy and consumers are free to purchase the variety of their choice. Indeed, in a free market economy, wishes and preferences of the consumers direct production. Producers produce goods in accordance with the wishes of consumers. Consumers are sovereign in the sense that they direct the productive activity in the economy. Competition ushered in by economic reforms is the best friend of the consumers, as it would provide goods of quality at competitive prices. The old protective regime and the licence raj had done immense harm to both the industry and the consumers. The economic liberalization would now force the domestic industry to manufacture goods of international standards if it has to survive in the midst of competition from abroad. But various strategies are being employed by manufacturers and traders to exploit the consumers. The process has started demonstrating that amidst the present level of morality the interest of consumers are not safe in the race for showing more profits, making more money. Many manufacturers have resorted to reducing the quantity of product in the packages, sometimes playing with quality, showing slight reduction, in the prices printed in the packages but the fact is that the price reduction is totally out of line with the I reduction of the quantity and quality. Instances of certain inter-company mergers, and mergers with multinationals, have started blatantly hurting the interests of consumers. The process of liberalization is inevitable, but it is of primary importance to ensure that these are not allowed to operate to any disadvantage of the customers. Along with the development of a very complex distribution system, the requirement of a market economy, faced with the need for ensuring a regular flow of mass production, has given rise to the development of new techniques of sales promotion. Advertising has proved itself to be of inestimable value for producers and distributors as well as for consumers. It enables the former to maintain contact with consumers who are wildly scattered and often unknown. It helps customers to choose best and useful goods and services. Advertising has become an important social and economic force in the world today. It is therefore, essential that any unfair advertising practice would be checked and eliminated. Advertising has a powerful impact on children. There are more than 70 television channels in India, reaching 24 million cable and satellite homes and with I over 150 million viewers. Advertising budgets climb up every year. McDonald's spends 2 billion dollars on

advertising alone annually. Consumer goods companies spend anything between 5 to 15% of their turnover on brand building and advertising. The largest consumer goods company in India, HLL spent Rs 7.24 billion on advertising in 1999 and Colgate spends almost 18% of its 11 billion turnover on advertising. Young consumers are the most sought-after consumer segment in the market. They have impressionable minds, they like to keep up with the latest fad and have got money to spend! Although it might seem that children or teenagers do not have much purchasing power but they do have powers of persuasion and hence are aggressively wooed by the market. In India, there are no specific advertising laws that relate to children and food-related advertisements in particular. A host of laws and Acts like the 'Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995' and the 'Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Food Act' deal with children-related advertising in a vague way. Not only are there advertisements that are targeted at children but a host of them feature young children, even babies. Therefore, following considerations should be taken:1)

Advertising for goods meant for children should be simple, understandable and


No advertisement should be accepted which leads children to believe that if they do not

buy the product advertised, they will be inferior in some way to other children or that they are liable to be condemned or ridiculed for not using it.

Advertisings of talisman, charms and charter reading fromphotographs or such other

matter should not be permitted.


Advertising should be truthful, avoid distorting facts and misleading the public by

means of implications by false statements.


Vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes or treatment should be avoided in

all advertisement.

Nowadays advertisements are misleading consumers, especially children. A

responsible and vigilant customer can protect his right. He buys everything after enquiring about ISI or AGMARK or guarantee card. However, in India, most of the customers are ignorant and not vigilant. Advertising should educate customers to these facts.

Case Study & Analysis

Case Study 1
COMPLAINT No. 722/8.10.2008 DATE OF ORDER: 2.12.2009 Sanjiv Kumar son of Sh. Ram Sarup, resident of 8394, St. No.2, Gurpal Nagar, ATI Road, Ludhiana. (Complainant) Vs. 1.Reliance Fresh Ltd. 41/1, Dugri Road, Ludhiana through authorised signatory. 2. Pepsi Co-India Holding Pvt. Ltd. (Frito-Lay Division) NC- Village Chano, Patiala-Sangrur Road, PO Bhawnigarh, Distt. Sangrur (Punjab) through authorised signatory. (Opposite parties) COMPLAINT UNDER SECTION 12 OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT,1986. Quorum; Sh. Rajesh Kumar, Member. Smt. PritiMalhotra, Member. Present: Sh. M.S. Sethi Advocate for the complainant. Sh. DalipGarg Adv. for OP No.1. OP No.2 is ex-parte. ORDER

PRITI MALHOTRA, MEMBER: 1. Sh. Sanjiv Kumar has filed the present complaint against Reliance Fresh Ltd. 41/1, Dugri Road, Ludhiana through authorized signatory and Pepsi Co-India Holding Pvt. Ltd. (Frito-Lay Division) NC- Village Chano, Patiala-Sangrur Road, PO Bhawnigarh, Distt. Sangrur (Punjab) through authorized signatory under section 2, 12 and 14 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. 2. The complainant has alleged that he had purchased two packets of 22gm. of Kurkure and 32 gm. Spanish Tomato Chip (lay quality) manufactured by opposite party no. 2 and paid consideration as per cash memo dated 26.9.2008. Complainant felt that there was less weight of the packets, hence, he made complaint to opposite party no.1, who refused to care the genuine complaint of the complainant on the ground that after sale, if the customer leave the premises, the responsibility ceases. The complainant also approached the area manager of opposite party

no.2, but without any fruitful results. Complainant has further alleged that it is unfair trade practice. Packet of 32 gms. was found as 10gms and packet of 22 gms was found to be of 6 gms. Whereas he paid price as per contents of the material shown on the cover of the packets. The complainant alleged that the opposite parties by unfair method have illegally sold the less material and charged high price. Complainant has prayed for penalizing the opposite parties for their mal practice and earning bargaining price against hard earned income of poor customers who purchase such goods by believing the name of the opposite parties being reputed. He has also prayed for litigation expenses of Rs.5100/-. 3. Notice of the complaint was given to the opposite parties. Opposite party no.1 appeared and filed written statement alleging that he is not manufacturer and is only the retailer and as such he is not responsible for any shortage in the packets as alleged by the complainant. On merits, opposite party no.1 has alleged that it is not unfair trade practice committed by him and that weight was not less as alleged by the complainant. He has denied the allegations of the complainant. 4. Opposite party no.2 was preceded against ex-parte. 5. Complainant has filed an affidavit in support of his contentions and also tendered packets and receipt issued by the opposite party no.1 for the purchase of impugned packets. 6. Opposite party no.1 had contested that weight is not less in the packets. Accordingly, on the application dated 27.10.2009 moved by the complainant, it was desired that the packets may be got weighed by appointing a local commissioner. The Worthy President allowed the application vide order dated 27.10.2009 and appointed Sh. J.S. Chhabra as Local Commissioner, who in the presence of the parties was to weigh the packets on electronic weighing machine. Fee of the Local Commissioner was assessed at Rs.500/-. Local Commissioner submitted his report dated 27.10.2009 and found that 32gms. packet to be of 20 gms. andkurkure packet of 22gms was weighing only 10gms. Notice of this report was given to the opposite party for filing any objections. But no objections were filed. Hence, it is established that weight of the packets was less. 7. In conclusion, we find that manufacturer-OP No.2 must have known about the weight of each packet supplied by him to the opposite party no.1 for sale, as weight mentioned on the outer cover is greater than the actual weight of the commodity inside the cover. That conduct on the part of opposite party no.2 amounts to cheating its customers and is most unfair trade practice. We therefore allow the complaint and impose punitive damages of Rs.20,000/-(Rs. Twenty Thousands only) on opposite party no.2 to be paid to the complainant. As the act of opposite party caused loss not only to the complainant but also to general public who happens to buy

such products of opposite party. General public suffered bigger loss due to such fraudulent means adopted by the opposite party. Therefore, we order that 2/3 amount of the compensation be paid to the legal aid fund of the Consumer Fora, Ludhiana, so that the amount be spent for the benefit of the consumers. Opposite party no.1 being an agent of opposite party no.2 also be presumed to have knowledge of the fraudulent inscription on the outside of the packets. On that account, liability of the payment of the above punitive damages is also equally of opposite party no.1. Therefore, they are both held jointly responsible to pay the same along with litigation cost of proceedings, which we assess at Rs.2000/-(Rs. Two Thousands only), to the complainant. Compliance of the order be made within 30 days of the receipt of copy of the order, which be made available to the parties free of costs. File be completed and consigned to record.

Case Study 2
Donoghue v. Stevenson Donoghue v. Stevenson [1932] All ER Rep 1; [1932] AC 562; House of Lords Negligence, Whether duty owed to person injured. Duty of manufacturer of article to ultimate consumer. Bottle of ginger beer bought from retailer. Bottle containing dead snail. Purchaser poisoned by drinking contents. Liability of manufacturer to consumer. The common law duty of care; the neighbour principle Facts On 9th April 1929 Mrs Mary M'Alister or Donoghue brought an action against David Stevenson aerated water manufacturer Paisley, in which she claimed 500 as damages for injuries sustained by her through drinking ginger beer which had been manufactured by the defender. Mrs. Donoghue and her friend went to a shop occupied by Francis Minchella, and known as Wellmeadow Caf, at Wellmeadow Place, Paisley where the friend purchased ice cream, and ginger beer suitable to be used with the ice cream as an iced drink. for Mrs. Donoghue to drink. Mrs. Donoghue had no direct or indirect claim against the manufacturer based on contractual obligations because she did not purchase the product. The ginger beer was contained in an opaque bottle that prevented the contents from being viewed clearly. Mrs. Donoghue consumed some of the product after which the decomposed remains of a snail emerged from the bottle when the remaining ginger beer was poured into her glass. She sought damages against the manufacturer, Stevenson, from the resulting nervous shock and gastro-enteritis, which she claimed was caused through the incident. The trial judge found that the plaintiff could bring an action. The Court of Appeal overturned this decision. The plaintiff appealed to the House of Lords. The Decision The issue of law before the House of Lords was whether the defendant (Stevenson) owed Mrs. Donoghue a duty of care. The case was never tried on the facts.

Dicta of Lord Atkin: ". The complainant has to show that he has been injured by the breach of duty owed to him in the circumstances by the defendant to take reasonable care to avoid such injury". The rule in Heaven v. Pender was "demonstrably too wide." The concept of negligence is based upon "a sentiment of moral wrongdoing (for) which the offender must pay." Not every moral wrong can have a practical effect in law so it must be limited to taking "...reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour." A neighbour is a person so closely connected with and directly affected by (proximate to) my act (or omission) that I should have had them in mind when I committed the act (or omission). It would be a grave defect in the law if a consumer could not claim in circumstances such as a manufacturer negligently mixing poison into a drink. Lord Buckmaster referring to the dicta of Brett MR in Heaven v. Pender and the decision in George v. Skivington (1867) LR5 Ex 1 (which were applied by Lord Atkin): ". It is in my opinion better that they should be buried so securely that their perturbed spirits shall no longer vex the law." You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour/another. Lord Atkin's statement Lord Atkin's statement about the foreseeability of the effects of one's acts on one's neighbours is central to the existence of a duty of care in the law of tort/delict, especially on the then developing nascent tort/delict of negligence. In this judgement he formulates what is commonly known as the "neighbour principle". There must be, and is, some general conception of relations giving rise to a duty of care, of which the particular cases found in the books are but instances. ... The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer's question: Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law, is my neighbour? The answer seems to be persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as long as so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions that are called in question.

It is rather paradoxical that the customer is advertised as the "king" by the seller and service provider; but in actual practice treated as a slave or servant. He is often not properly informed about the product. Sometimes a label is attached with the goods "Items once sold by us will never be received back under any circumstances whatsoever." This unethical, illegal and unilateral declaration has to be viewed in the light of the practice in developed countries where the seller declares, "In case you are not fully satisfied with our product, you can bring the same to us within a month for either replacement or return of your money." This will clearly indicate the level of consumer consciousness. However, things are changing - slowly but steadily - and the momentum has increased considerably since the establishment of consumer courts and due to the efforts of a number of consumer organizations and the media.

The next millennium will witness a high degree of consumer awareness and "consumer choice" will become vital aspects of the economy. At present, a number of regulatory authorities have been constituted and the country is entering a new regime of regulatory economies in the service sector. It is heartening to note that regulatory bodies like telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI) have given importance to the interests of consumers and this has been publically declared as one of the main objectives. In the field of telecom, power, transport and problems not knowing how to get their grievances redressed. The number of cases relating to these sectors is increasing in the supreme court. It must be possible for the government to take steps to see that the areas of grievances are identified and remedial steps taken through proper systematization of procedure and working style. There are consumer goods where the procedure has to be made simple and consumer- friendly. Take bottled water, for example, when it was felt that some universal standards have to be fixed to ensure the quality of bottled water, and the existing law does not provide for the formation of such standards because water is not food as per the provisions in the food adulteration act. In such a situation the answer may be to prevail upon the manufacturers to go for voluntary ISI certification. This

method is working in the case of bottled water, thanks to the cooperation of producers and the clear preference expressed by the active consumer groups. Similarly, investor protection is also an area where in spite of steps taken by the authorities such as the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the case of exploitation of consumers is increasing. In many cases investors have lost their savings of life time at the hand of unscrupulous fund managers, share brokers, bank managers etc. even cooperative banks which were supposed to be a safe haven to the small investor have duped him badly. This is an area of grave concern and requires concerted action by the regulators, government and the consumer organizations. We must find a way out to save the consumers from the unscrupulous functioning of nonbanking finance companies. The other category is the protection of consumers from the private sector dealing with goods and services. It is not to be constructed that the entire business sector is keen on exploiting the consumers. There are established business firms which really care for consumer satisfaction, their own reputation and goodwill. Voluntary bodies like the Fair Business Practices Forum are functioning effectively and are quick in removing the grievances of the consumers. These can go a long way in reducing the number of cases in the consumer courts. The special feature of CPA act is to provide speedy and inexpensive redressal to the grievance of the consumer and provide him relief of a specific nature and award compensation wherever appropriate. The aim of the Act is also to ensure the rights of the consumer, viz. the right of choice, safety, information, redressal, public hearing and consumer education. The growing interdependence of the world economy and the inter linkages between the companys world wide have contributed to the development of universal emphasis on consumer rights protection and promotion. Consumers, clients and customers world over, are demanding value for money in the form of quality goods and better services. Modern technological developments have no doubt made a great impact on the quality, availability and safety of goods and services and specially in the developing countries like India the activities like outsourcing and technology appropriation has helped to raise the standard of goods being served to the customers.

But the fact of life is that the consumers are still victims of immoral and exploitative practices. Exploitation of consumers assumes numerous forms such as adulteration of food, fake drugs, dubious hire purchase plans, high prices, poor quality, deficient services, deceptive advertisements, hazardous products, black marketing and many more. In addition, with revolution in information technology newer kinds of challenges are thrown on the consumer like cyber crimes, plastic money etc. which affect the consumer in even bigger way. Consumer is sovereign and Customer is the king are nothing more than myths in the present scenario particularly in the developing societies. However, it has been realized and rightly so that the consumer protection is a socio-economic programme to be pursued by the government as well as the business as the satisfaction of the consumers is in the interest of both. In this context, the government, however, has a primary responsibility to protect the consumers interests and rights through appropriate policy measures, legal structure and administrative framework. The Consumer Act implications suffer a major setback in Indian legal setup and have a number of problems and limitations attached to it. The research group has therefore proposed a model that caters to these problems and would provide a reliable solution for efficient delivery of legal services at one hand and encourage the cause of consumer empowerment on the other.