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27 Feb, 2024
Consumer protection is the exercise of protecting customers of services and goods against unfair market practices. It refers to the actions taken to safeguard customers from unethical and unscrupulous acts by merchants, manufacturers, service providers, and others and to offer remedies if their consumer rights are infringed.
The Consumer Protection Act 2019 governs the protection of consumers' rights in India. The Act of 2019 substituted the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. The new Act includes several provisions addressing modern, technology-dependent consumers' challenges. The Act also contains several clauses to protect and promote consumer rights.
A consumer is a group of people or an individual who buy goods & services for their own use rather than for manufacture or resale. A consumer is defined in Section 2(7) of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 as "any individual who buys products or services in return for consideration and uses such goods or services for personal use, resale, or business use." It is explicitly mentioned in the definition of consumer that the word "buys any products" and "hires or avails any services" also covers any online transactions undertaken by electronic means or direct selling, teleshopping, or multi-level marketing.
The Act's major goal is to safeguard consumers' interests and to build a stable and effective process for resolving consumer complaints. The Act's objectives are as follows:
The Indian legislature created the Consumer Protection Act 2019 to address consumer rights violations, unfair commercial practices, misleading ads, and other conditions that are detrimental to consumer rights. The objective of the Parliament in creating the Act was to contain protections for e-consumers since, as technology has advanced, the buying and selling of services and goods online has expanded significantly in recent years.
The Act aims to offer more excellent protection of customers' rights and interests by creating Consumer Protection Councils to arbitrate disputes and give sufficient compensation to consumers whose rights have been violated. It also expedites and effectively resolves customer concerns through alternative dispute resolution procedures. The Act also encourages consumer education to educate consumers about their rights and obligations and to address any complaints.
According to the Consumer Protection Act of 2019, a consumer has six rights. Consumer rights are referenced in Section 2(9) of the Act, and they are as follows:
The importance of the Consumer Protection Act is stated below:
The government's consumer protection legislation has several good consequences in this regard. Consumers should constantly be aware of their rights and responsibilities and the significance of those rights. In that regard, we shall thoroughly investigate the significance of this legal protection.
Consumers must acquire reliable and impartial information about the goods and services they buy. This allows individuals to make the best decisions based on their preferences & expertise, avoiding being deceived or mislead by corporate personnel. Consumer protection policies, rules, and regulations assist to raise consumer knowledge and welfare by guaranteeing that firms may be held accountable if customers find them to be guilty.
Businesses who are recognised to treat their customers fairly will earn a positive reputation in the market, which is known as goodwill. This boosts their profitability and reputational competitiveness, which will contribute to economic growth in the long run. Consumer protection policies, rules, and regulations ensure that firms are appropriately governed.
Economic Development and Competitiveness
Consumer protection helps create dynamic and effective marketplaces where firms may thrive. Businesses can no longer get an advantage through deception. Consumer awareness causes firms to implement fair policies, which fosters creativity and economic development since businesses must maintain fair prices and high quality of their products & services.
With the rise of cross-border & digital trade, jurisdictional cooperation on consumer protection has become essential. ASEAN has attempted to address these challenges through the development of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for Consumer Protection 2025.
Advantages for the Consumers of the Act
How and When to Complain
According to the Consumer Protection Act, a client may file a written complaint if:
Procedure for Filing a Consumer Case
Any consumer complaint against a product or service must be made in writing with a District Forum, along with the appropriate charge. When the District Forum receives a complaint, it has twenty-seven days from the date of receipt to reject or approve it. On the other hand, a copy of the complaint will be sent to the opposing party for approval within forty-five days.
Every attempt is made to hear all consumer cases as soon as feasible. Furthermore, it is hoped that the complaint will be resolved within three months of the opposing party receiving notice. As a result, if the complainant fails to attend on the day of the hearing before the District Court throughout the proceedings, the District Court may either discard the complaint about default or determine it on its merits.
Consumer protection is one of the awareness program's top priorities.
Customers have grown more conscious of their rights & responsibilities as customers as a result of the advancement of education. Consumers who know what things to buy and what tasks to fulfill can no longer be outwitted by unscrupulous sellers. The awareness initiative must be implemented on a large basis.