Lessons From The Law
The Consumer Protection Act 1986 is one of the most important socio economic legislations for the protection of consumers. The provisions of this Act are compensatory in nature unlike other laws, which are either punitive or preventive. Its objective is to provide simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal to the aggrieved consumers and reliefs of a specific nature and award of compensation wherever appropriate to the consumer. In 1993, the Act was amended to extend its coverage and scope and to enhance the powers of the redressal machinery. This Act applies to all goods and services unless specifically exempted by the Central Government. It intends to cover all the sectors including private, public or cooperative.
The Act recognised the following rights of consumers:
Right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which arehazardous to life and property.
- Right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standardand price of goods or services so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices.
- Rightto be assured of access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices.
- Rightto be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at the appropriate forum. Right to secure compensation for the deficiency in service and defect in goods. The Act envisages a three – tier quasi – judicial machinery at the national, state and district levels like National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissioners, Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum.
- Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices, unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.
- Rightto consumer education.
Section 2 (d) defines consumer in the following words: Consumer of goods- A consumer is 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.
Consumer of Services –One 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 of such service other than the one who actually hires or avails of the service for person consideration and such services are availed with the approval of such person
The definition of consumer under s 2 (1) (d) (ii ) is wide enough to include not only a person who hires or avails services but also the beneficiary of such services other than the person who hires or avails services. A child admitted and treated in a hospital by a doctor, as well as his parents would be considered consumer and the awarding of compensation to both of them for injury to each one of them was held to be proper. Thus is the extension of tortious liability towards all those victims of the defendant’s breach of duty. When a young child is taken to a hospital by his parents and the child is treated by the doctor, the parents are entitled to compensation for the acute mental agony and the lifelong care and attention which the parents would have to bestow on the minor child. The agony of the parents would remain so long as they remain alive.