Consumer Protection

Protecting the consumers’ rights should in fact be the prime duties of the Government which, besides introducing various measures, can also go in for legislative means to make laws and regulations to protect the rights of a customer. In the present era of cut throat competition among the manufacturing companies and their retail outlets, shops, malls, departmental stores etc, the consumers are bound to be made vulnerable as regards the quality, purity, contents, price, after sale services and the like. Alluring and tall promising commercial advertisements which have become a part of the unwanted strains, we as consumers are subjected to, also play a greater part in affecting the rights of the consumer citizens. Availability of basic and prime commodities at affordable prices and of good quality, un-adulterated, non spurious, fresh or non stale, is all what a consumer is looking forward to have.
There are several laws in respect of the matter under reference but finding them inadequate in relation to the changing scenario of commerce and industry especially at retail levels, the need to repeal, amend and enact new laws arises from time to time. There are lot many disputes concerning sale and manufacturing issues affecting the consumers which need a lasting resolution especially in the context of the aggrieved consumer generally being placed inadequately in terms of resources as against the seller or the manufacturer, to settle a dispute in favour of the consumer. The Parliament in the recently concluded session approved a new bill which was sought to revamp the process of administration and settlement of disputes. Could adulteration having assumed alarming proportions be linked legally to the consumers’ vital interests affecting health and endangering lives even of the tiny tots? The Consumer Protection Bill 2019 has answers to it which has now been passed in both the houses of the Parliament.
Noteworthy feature of the Bill passed is the provisions for severe penalties including jail term for adulteration and for misleading advertisements especially by celebrities for purchasing a particular brand only. It could be increasingly felt that if the biggest deficiency in service and not getting the stuff exactly in the form , shape, contents etc for which a consumer pays, is the massive adulteration which is an invisible invasion on basic consumer rights. It is pertinent to mention that for a quite long time , the need to have a Central Consumer Protection Authority has been felt to address issues regarding promoting, protecting and strictly enforcing consumer rights including those which were violated due to adulteration and sub- standard goods. Thankfully, the new Bill addresses those vital issues.
The consumers in India, at least, can now hope that once the provisions of the Bill were enforced meticulously, a proper mechanism for redressing of emerging complaints of deficiencies in service, particularly post sales ones and defects in goods itself would be felt around. To dispose of the pending cases at national and state levels in respect of consumer rights complaints in a shortest time bound manner, it was incumbent for the State Governments to fill the vacant posts of the President of Consumer Commissions and appoint new ones where these are still not appointed.
It is, however, beyond comprehension as to why celebrities engaged in promoting goods of defective nature or services of poor quality by way of attractive advertisements, infringing upon the rights of the consumers, should not get a jail term as it was provided for in the said Bill before being sent to a Standing Committee. The premise for not doing so has been cited as worldwide practice where there being no such provision. Why to selectively choose such provision to provide protection to celebrities and why on other parameters, global standards are not made the base where even a slight increase of salt or preservative would render the concerned stuff as unfit for use. Let “Jaago Grahak Jaago” be not confined to papers alone but steps especially by State Governments taken to make it a mission slogan to protect consumer rights.