This article is written by Akanksha Chawdhary, a student of Amity University.
This act was enacted in 1986 to protect the interests of consumers in India however it was replaced by the Consumer Protection,2019. Almost daily consumers are duped by sellers, however previously there were no proper laws that helped these consumers only cases could be filed under the law of torts. This act was regarded as the ‘Magna Carta’ in the field of consumer protection for keeping a watch the no unfair trade practices take place. Another important term that was developed within this act was ‘Caveat Emptor’ which means let buyers beware so basically this term says that the buyers should also be cautious before buying any kinds of product therefore whenever a buyer is buying something he should make sure of the product and ask all the relevant questions as if it is, later on, found that the buyer had put very little efforts on knowing about the product then even if the product is defective no compensation can be received by him. However, as we know the seller knows a lot more than the buyer usually does so if he intentionally hides any fact then he will be liable to pay the compensation.
For example – Suppose A goes to a shop to buy a car and he does not bother to ask anything about the car and later finds it to be defective then he cannot get the compensation however if A asks everything that he wanted to know and despite that some problem or deject is found then he will be entitled to damages.
We should also keep in mind about another term known as Caveat Vendor which means ‘Let Sellers Beware’, this means that whenever a seller is selling something he should let the consumers know about it properly and should not conceal any facts as if it is found later on that he had intentionally hidden some fact then he has to pay compensation. Also, there might be a huge chance that he might get deceived by the consumer so he should be careful.
Let us understand who a consumer is under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 –
>Any person who buys good for consideration which is either paid or partly paid or is under any kind of deferred payment and includes the use of such goods other than the person who buys it.
>Any services for a consideration which has been either paid or partly paid or under any system of deferred payment and includes a beneficiary of such services if it is availed with the approval of the hirer.
Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 complainant can be defined under section 2b they are the following people –
1. Any Consumer
2. Voluntary consumer association
3. Central or state government
4. One or more than one consumer if there are a lot of consumers
5. If a consumer dies then his legal heir or representative can also file a complaint.
Various Forums under Consumer Protection Act
Talking about the forums, there are three important Forums which are governed under the consumer protection act. These forums are as follows:
1. District Consumer Redressal Forum:
This forum consists of a president who is qualified as a District Judge appointed by the State Government. It also consists of two other members, one of the members should be a woman who should not be more than 35 years of age and should also possess a reputable bachelors degree from a well- known university. Along with this, the members should have experience of at least 10 years and also should have the ability, capability, and knowledge of solving the disputes and solving all such matters based on economy, law, commerce, accounts, industry, or public affairs. The term of office for such members is 5 years or 65 years of age, whichever comes first. In a district forum, a consumer files complaint regarding the goods, the value of which should not exceed more than 20 lakh rupees.
2. State Consumer Redressal Forum: –
This forum consists of a president who is qualified as a High Court Judge appointed by the State Government. It also consists of two other members, one of the members should be a woman who should not be more than 35 years of age and should also possess a reputable bachelor’s degree from a well- known university. Along with this, the members should have experience of at least 10 years and also should have the ability, capability, and knowledge of solving the disputes and solving all such matters based on economy, law, commerce, accounts, industry, or public affairs. The term of office for such members is 5 years or 67 years of age, whichever comes first. In a State Forum, a consumer files complaint regarding the goods, the value of which can exceed 20 lakhs but cannot exceed 1 crore.
3. National Consumer Redressal Forum: –
This forum consists of a president who is qualified as a Supreme Court Judge appointed by the Central Government. It also consists of four other members, one of the members should be a woman who should not be more than 35 years of age and should also possess a reputable bachelor’s degree from a well- known university. Along with this, the members should have experience of at least 10 years and also should have the ability, capability, and knowledge of solving the disputes and solving all such matters based on economy, law, commerce, accounts, industry, or public affairs. The term of office for such members is 5 years or 70 years of age, whichever comes first. In a National Forum, a consumer files complaint regarding the goods, the value of which can exceed 1 Crore
There are three important procedures which has to be kept in mind while filing a consumer complaint. These procedures are enumerated as follows:
1. District Forum to State Forum
2. State Forum to National Forum
3. National Forum to Supreme Court
Case Laws –
Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation vs Ashoka Iron Works Private Limited –
So basically, in this case, the respondent happened that the complaint was not maintainable as a company or corporate body is not considered as a person under the consumer protection act. Also, it was said that disputes related to sale and supply of electricity was also not included under ‘service’ however the court took into consideration the case of Dilworth vs Commissioner of Stamps and certain other cases such as Southern Petrochemical Industries where it was held that supply also included the sale and thus the supply of electricity will be included in section 2 of this act and they also decided that in this particular case the corporate body was included in the meaning of persons in the consumer protection act. Therefore the complaint was allowed and then the case was
Indian Medical Association vs V.P. Shantha and others
In this case, a writ petition was filed by the Indian Medical Association which said that the Supreme Court should declare that the word medical profession does not apply to the consumer protection act. However, the court held that all the services that are rendered by a medical professional will fall under services, it also rejected the fact that a medical practitioner being a professional and falling under the scope of the Indian Medical Council Act stands excluded from the Consumer Protection Act.
Springs Meadows Hospital and Anr vs Harjol Ahluwalia
This appeal was filed before the Supreme Court by a hospital defending the negligence of its nurse and a doctor which had put a minor in a permanent vegetative state, the question was whether the parents could ask for compensation as they were not the patients, the court held that definition of services in Consumer Protection Act was wide enough to include the child and the parents and thus the child was paid compensation for the cost of equipment’s and expenses that he has to bear for his vegetative state.
Sehgal School of Competition vs Dalbir Singh
In this landmark judgment concerning educational institutions which dates back to 2005, a student was asked to deposit a fee of Rs 18,734 as fees for the coaching of medical entrance for the next two years however after paying the money he found out that the coaching institute was not up to the mark due to which he demanded back however the institute refused him to pay back the money.
The commission held that all educational institutions which charge lump sum fees for the whole duration or should refund the fees services are deficient therefore anyone saying fees once paid is not refundable is not enforceable and this view is maintained by all the forums.
As is clear from the study, consumer protection has social, ethical, and economic dimensions. Each country has had a movement for providing consumer justice peculiar to their historical, social, economic, and legal background. The United Nations has played a very important role in laying down the guidelines which serve as a consensus on minimum standards for all countries, where consumer protection is concerned. The countries all over the world are required to incorporate the same in their local consumer laws taking into consideration their specific needs and requirements. In India, consumer protection can be traced to ancient India where the unscrupulous traders were required to keep restraint and if they failed, the punishment was prescribed. In modem India the sacred documents, the Constitution envisaged social and economic justice, of which consumer justice is a part. To fulfill the pious objectives a large number of laws were enacted by the Parliament for the protection of consumers. However, many of them had become either outdated or needed suitable amendments to make them more effective. These laws provided relief or inadequate relief to aggrieved consumers.
 http://ncdrc.nic.in/bare_acts/Consumer%20Protection%20Act-1986.html. (last viewed 31st July, 21:12)
 http://chdslsa.gov.in/right_menu/act/pdf/consumer.pdf. (last viewed 31st July, 21:30)
 https://www.toppr.com/guides/business-studies/consumer-protection/consumer-protection-act/. (last viewed 31st July, 21:52)
 https://www.mondaq.com/india/consumer-trading-unfair-trading/624830/the-consumer-protection-law-in-india. (last viewed 1st August, 18:28)
 https://blog.finology.in/Legal-news/Overview-of-Consumer-Protection-Act-1986. (last viewed 1st August, 18:58
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