Consumer Rights

Concepts

  1. When one pays money as the price of a commodity or services and uses it, he or she becomes a consumer. In this sense we all are consumers.
  2. Consumer buys goods and services because they have some utility and satisfy human wants directly.
  3. Markets do not work in a fair manner. Often producers are few and powerful whereas consumers purchase in small amounts and are scattered. Hence there is a need for rules and regulations to ensure protection for consumers.
  4. Consumer  movement  is  basically  a  social  force  which  originated  with  the  necessity  of protecting and promoting the interest of consumers against unethical and unfair trade practices.
  5. Consumer movement can be more effective only with the consumers’ active involvement. It requires voluntary effort and struggle, involving the participation of one and all.
  6. UN guidelines are a tool for nations to adopt measures to protect consumers. In 1985 United
  7. Nations adopted some guidelines for consumer protection.

 

  1. Consumer Protection Act was introduced by the Indian Government in 1986. Popularly known as COPRA, it has led to the setting up of a separate department of consumer affairs in Central and State governments.
  2. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, ensures the following rights which every consumer in
  3. India should possess :
  • Right to choice
  • Right to information
  • Right to redressal
  •  Right to representation
  •  Right   to safety
  • Right to consumer education.

11. ISI and Agmark logos represent quality standard for many products. However, for some products that affect the health and safety of consumers such as LPG cylinders, food colours and additives, cement or packed drinking water, it is mandatory on the part of the producers to get certified by these organisations.

Q.1. What do you mean by right to be informed? How it protects consumer interests?

Ans. Right to be informed about the quality, quantity, purity, potency, standard and price of goods so as to protect the consumers against unfair trade practices.

How it protects consumer’s interests : Consumer can get all 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.

Q.2. Explain how ‘right to seek redressal’ help consumers to protect them against unfair practices and exploitation.

Ans. Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers also includes right  to fair settlement of the genuine grievances of the consumer. Consumer can make complaint for their genuine grievances. Many a time their complaint may be of small value but its impact on society as a whole may be very large. They can also take the help of a consumer organisation in seeking redressal of their grievances.

Q.3. How does logo with letters ISI, Agmark or Hallmark help consumers?

Ans. These logos help consumers to get assured of quality while purchasing the goods and services.

These logos are the symbols of trust, confidence and goodwill of the product.

Q.4. How government protects the interests of consumers?

Ans. Government has taken 3 measures to protect the interest of consumers.

(i)  Legislative measures: The government enacted a law called Consumer Protection Act in

1986. The act provides for the establishment of consumer dispute redressal mechanisms at district, state and national levels.

 

 

 

(ii)  Administrative measures : Public Distribution System (PDS) started by Government to prevent hoarding and black marketing.

(iii)  Technical measures : Setting up institutions for fixing up the standards for products like

Indian Standards Institutes, are technical measures taken by Government.

Q.5. What is the role of RTI Act in India? Explain.

Ans. In October 2005, the Government of India enacted a law, popularly known as RTI (Right to Information) Act, which ensures its citizens all the information about the functioning of government departments. Right to information has been expanded to cover various services provided by the government. For example, if we buy a product and find it defective well before the expiry period, we can ask for a replacement.

Important Questions and Answers:

Q.1. Explain any three ways by which people may be exploited in the market. 

 Ans. Consumer may be exploited in the market in the following ways :

(a)  Substandard quality : Selling of medicines beyond their expiry date, supply of defective home appliances etc. are the activities by traders in which they sell substandard quality of goods.

(b)  Higher prices : Traders sometimes charge a price higher than the retail price (MRP).

 (c)  Duplicate Articles : Many false and duplicate products are being sold to the consumers.

Q.2. What are the rights given under COPRA for the redressal of grievances? Explain.

Ans. The rights given under COPRA for the redressal of grievances are as follows:

(i)  Right to safety: This is the right to be protected against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to health and life.

(ii)  Right to be informed: Consumers have the right to get all information about the product or service before making a choice or a decision. This will enable the consumers not to fall prey to the sellers tactics.

(iii) Right to choose: Consumers the right to choose from amongst a variety of goods and services available in the market at competitive prices.

(iv)  Right to be heard: Every consumer’s complaints or grievances regarding any product or services will be considered.

(v)  Right to seek redressal: When consumers are cheated or exploited, they have a right to get claims settled against the manufacturer.

(vi) Right to consumer education: A consumer can protect himself against various malpractices when he knows his rights and the remedies available to him.

Q.3. How is a consumer benefitted by the right to be informed?              

Ans. Consumer  can  ask  about  the  facts,  information  about  quality,  date  of  manufacture,  price, precautions etc. about a product he is willing to buy. After getting the complete information,

a consumer has a complete freedom to deny or accept the product.

Q.4. Briefly  explain  the  three-tier  quasi-judicial  machinery  set  up  under  the  Consumer

Protection Act of 1986. 

Ans. The  government  enacted  a  specific  law  called  the  Consumer  Protection Act,  1986.  Most important feature of the Act is the provision for setting up a three-tier system as follows :

(i)  National Consumer Commission         (ii) State Consumer Commission

(iii)  District Forum

These courts look into the grievances and complaints of the consumers against the traders and manufacturers and provide the necessary relief and compensation to the consumers.

Q.5. Highlight any three problems which a consumer may face in the process of redressal?

Ans. The problems which a consumer may face in the process of redressal are : (a)  It may be time-consuming.

(b)  It may be expensive as a consumer has to engage the lawyers.

(c)  If cash memos are not issued then it make the collection of evidences difficult.

Q.6. Describe any three features of Consumer Forum? 

Ans. Features of Consumer Forum are as follows :

(i)  They guide the consumers on filing the cases in consumer courts.

(ii)  In many cases, they represent the individual consumer at the consumer courts. (iii)  They create awareness among the people.

Q.7. Explain any three factors that led to the growth of consumer movements in India? Give any three factors.

Ans. Factors that led to the growth of consumer movements in India are : (i)  Exploitation of consumers by the traders or shopkeepers.

(ii)  To avoid black marketing, adulteration of food etc. by traders.

(iii)  To check the malpractices at ration shops and even at road passenger transport.

Q.8. Highlight any three duties of the consumers.             [2011 (T-2)] Ans. Duties of the consumers are as follows :

(i)  Consumer should purchase quality marked products such as ISI, Agmark etc. and take the warranty card, if possible.

(ii)  Consumer should ask for cash memo for items purchased.

(iii)  Consumer should make complaints for the genuine grievances.

Q.9. Explain consumer’s right to seek redressal.               

Ans. This is the right to get relief against unfair trade practices and unscrupulous exploitation. When consumers  are  cheated  or  exploited,  they  have  a  right  to  get  claims  settled  against  the manufacturer. A number of consumer courts and agencies have been set up for this purpose.

Q.10. What legal measures have been taken by the government to empower the consumers in

India?

 Ans. The  government  enacted  a  specific  law  called  the  Consumer  Protection Act,  1985.  Most

important feature of the Act is the provision for setting up a three-tier system as follows :

(i)  National Consumer Commission         (ii) State Consumer Commission

(iii)  District Forum

 

 

 

These courts look into the grievances and complaints of the consumers against the traders and manufacturers and provide the necessary relief and compensation to the consumers.

Q.11. Why are rules and regulations required for the ‘protection of consumers’ interest’ in the marketplace? Explain any two reasons.     

Ans. Rules and regulations required for the ‘protection of consumers’ interest’ in the marketplace because :

(a)  Individual consumers when exploited at the market, find themselves in a weak position.

Sellers take no responsibility of the products they have sold.

(b)  Unfair trade practices like black marketing, adulteration etc. need to be checked.

Q.12. How do duplicate articles and adulteration cause heavy loss to the consumers? Give two example.             

Ans. Duplicate articles and adulteration cause heavy loss to the consumers in the following ways :

(i)  Duplicate articles such as duplicate medicines may cause life risks for the consumers. (ii)  Duplicate articles and adulterated goods cause financial loss to the consumers and leave

them unsatisfied.

Q.13. Explain the consumer’s ‘Right to Choose’ with suitable example.  

Ans. Right to choose : The consumer has a right to choose from amongst a variety of goods and

services available in the market at competitive prices.

For example : A gas supply dealer cannot force or insist any consumer to buy a gas stove if they do not require it at the time of taking a new connection.

Q.14. What is the rationale behind the enactment of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 ?

Ans. Consumer exploitation has given rise to consumer organisations which started writing articles, publicity through media and holding exhibitions at various areas to make the consumer aware. Consumer  groups  were  formed  to  look  into  the  malpractices  at  the  ration  shops  and overcrowding in the road passenger transport. Government started taking initiatives to correct

faulty  business  practices  which  are  against  the  consumers. A major step  taken  by  the

government in 1986 was the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Q.15. What are Consumer Forums ? What is their importance?

 Ans. Consumer Forums are the organisations formed to guide consumer rights. They are also called

as Consumer Protection Councils.

Importance of these organisations are as follows :

(i)  They guide a consumer in filing the cases at the consumer courts.

(ii)  They can also represent individual consumer at the consumer courts, if required.

(iii)  They create awareness among people regarding consumer rights. For this, they also receive financial support from the government.

Q.16. Explain any three strategies adopted by the government to protect the interest of the consumers.            

Ans. The strategies or measures adopted by the government to protect the interest of the consumers are as follows:

(i)  Legislative measures: Formation of national, state and district level courts to look into the grievances and complains of the consumers.

(ii)  Administrative measures: Formation of Public Distribution Systems (PDS). They ensure food security to the poor and prevent hoarding, black marketing and overcharging by traders.

(iii)  Technical measures: Various quality standards have been settled to ensure the quality of products. BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) are for industrial and consumer goods, Agmark for agricultural products and ISO (International Standard Organisation) checks the goods at international level.

Q.17. “There is a need for rules and regulations to ensure protection of consumers.” Give two arguments in support of the statement.         [2008]

Ans. (i)  There  is  a  need  for  rules  and  regulations  to  protect  the  consumers  from  unfair  trade practices. For example –

A shopkeeper weighs less than the actual quantity and charges more.

(ii) In order to make high profit, some manufacturers of oil, ghee, butter, khoya etc. stoop to adulteration. Such things prove very injurious to the health of the customers. Hence, rules and regulations protect the consumers from such unethical trade practices.

Q.18. Analyse the functions of Consumer Protection Councils.

 Ans. Consumer Protection Councils help the consumers against any harassments or cheating from any business or economic agency. If any businessman resorting to unfair means he shall be

taken to task by councils set up at the district, state and national level. Consumers’ complaints

are heard by them and with their cooperation, the councils try to get the culprits duly punished and the grievances of the consumers redressed. The councils educate the consumers to be aware of their rights and how to protect them. (The rights, for example, of information, right to choose, right to be heard, right to be protected against goods hazardous to life and property etc.) The councils see to it that the customers are compensated for the loss they incurred in buying defective goods or getting poor services. For example, a bank was fined for sloppy services, a hospital had to pay compensation to a patient for medical negligence etc.

Q.19. Why is very it difficult to make changes to the power sharing arrangement between the

Union  government and State governments? Explain with example.       

Ans. In this arrangement, Constitution clearly lays down the division of powers between Union and States. So for any changes, it has to go through the amendment procedures which is difficult.

Here, the Centre has a general authority, but the regional or state governments are given autonomy. So interference in each other’s jurisdiction for any change is difficult.

For example, in India where there is federal division of powers, if it is required to bring any changes in the state boundary, the concerned state has to be consulted and 2/3 special majority amendment procedure is to be followed.

Q.19. Explain the factors which gave birth to the consumer movement in India.

Ans.  (i)  Unfair trade practices : Some traders and shopkeepers indulge in unethical or unfair trade practices.  They  cheat  the  customers  by  giving  them  articles  of  substandard  quality.

Duplicate items are also available in the market but they look so genuine that even wise and clever customers fail to differentiate them.

Similarly, underweighing tactics are very common among shopkeepers. They give less quantity but charge more than the actual.

(ii)  Adulteration and impurity : It is also a common practice where manufacturers of ghee, oil, butter etc. resort to adulteration. These activities increase their profit margin causing loss to the customers. Sometimes it proves very injurious to the health of the customers.

(iii)  Artificial scarcity : Shortage of essential items in the market is the result of hoarding. In order to get more profit certain unscrupulous traders resort to hoarding of these goods thereby creating artificial scarcity. After sometime they sell these products at higher prices.

(iv)  False or incomplete information : At times false information is passed on through the media and through other methods to attract consumers. This activity causes monetary loss as well as inconvenience to the consumers.

Q.20. Who is a consumer? Explain five duties of a consumer.      

Ans. Any person who buys anything in the market and uses it, is called consumer.

Duties of consumer : (i) It is the responsibility of the consumer to be more alert and questioning about the price and quality of goods and services that he/she uses. (ii) To assert and act to ensure that he/she gets a fair deal. (iii) To organise together as consumers to develop the strength and influence to promote and protect their interests. (iv) To purchase quality marked products such as ISI, AGMARK etc. (v) To ask for cash memo for the items purchased whenever possible.