Consumers : Any person who buys a commodity or
service for use, is known as consumer.
Consumer’s Rights : Consumer has six rights. These
a) Right to safety
b) Right to be informed
c) Right to choose
d) Right to be heard
e) Right to seek redressal
f) Right to consumer education
Consumer Exploitation : Consumer exploitation is a
situation in which a producer or a trader, delivers
much less than what they had initially promised to
Consumer Movement : Consumer movement is a
growing realization that the interests of consumers
need to be protected against unscrupulous sellers.
Consumer Protection : Consumer protection are all
those measures that protect the rights of the
Consumer Protection Act : This Act was passed in
1986. This Act provides for the establishment of
Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies at District,
State and National Level.
AGMARK : AGMARK is a seal of government
that guarantees the quality of few selected
agricultural products. It is implemented under
Agriculture Product Act, 1937, which was
amended in 1986. Its products like honey,
masalas, spices, etc.
BIS : BIS stands for Bureau of Indian Standard. This
protects the consumers from lack of quality and
varying standard of industrial and consumer goods.
On the other hand, AGMARK is meant only for
Codex Alimentarius Commission : It develops food
standards, guidelines and codes of practices for
production and international trade in food products.
THE CONSUMER IN THE MARKETPLACE
• Consumers participate in the marketplace by using a
particular product. Had there been no consumer no
company would exist. The status of consumer is more or
less pathetic as far as consumer rights are concerned. You
can take examples of shopkeepers weighing less than he
should, company’ making false claims on packs. Then
there are local sweetmeat sellers adulterating raw
materials to produce the laddoos or barfis. You can recall
the case of dropsy because of adulterated mustard oil. No
matter how bad quality you get, chances are you will get
a rude response from the shopkeeper if you dare to
• If you have traveled by railways then you can recall the
horrible taste of almost all foodstuffs being sold in trains
and on platforms. Even the food supplied by the rail
pantry is of horrible quality.
• India has long tradition of food adulteration, black
marketing, hoarding, underweighing, etc. It was from
the 1960s that the consumer movement began in India.
Till the 1970s, consumer movement was mainly
restricted to writing articles and holding exhibitions.
But there has been an upsurge in the number of
consumer groups in recent times.
• The level of dissatisfaction with the sellers and service
providers was such an extent that the consumers had
no choice but to raise their voice. After many years of
organized struggle, the government was forced to take
notice and finally the Consumer Protection Act (COPRA)
was enacted in 1986.
SAFETY IS EVERYONE’S
Reji’s suffering shows
how a hospital, due to
negligence by the
doctors and staff in
crippled a student for
• Right to Be Informed : A consumer has the right to have
correct information about a product. There are rules which
make it mandatory to mention ingredients and safety features
on the pack of a product. Proper information helps a
consumer to make informed buying decision. A pack of a
product also needs to mention the MRP (Maximum Retail
Price) and a consumer can complain if the seller asks for more
than the MRP.
• In recent times, the right to information has been expanded
to cover various services provided by the Government. 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 functions of
government departments. The effect of the RTI Act can be
understood from the following case.
Right to Choose: A consumer has the
right to choose from different options. A
seller cannot just offer to sell only one
brand to the consumer. The seller has to
offer various options to the consumer.
This right is usually enforced through
laws against monopoly trade.
Where should consumers go
to get justice?
Right to Seek Redressal: If a consumer gets affected by
false promises made by the producer or suffers
because of manufacturing defect; he has the right to
seek redressal. Suppose you took a mobile connection
and the bill shows many hidden charges which were
not explained to you earlier. Or the mobile company
activated a ringtone without your permission. Then you
can go to the consumer court to put your case.
Let us take the case of Prakash. He had sent a money-
order to his village for his daughter’s marriage. The
money did not reach his daughter at the time when she
needed it nor did it reach months later. Prakash filed a
case in a district level consumer court in New Delhi. All
the steps he undertook are illustrated below.
• The consumer movement in India has led to the
formation of various organisations locally known as
consumer forums or consumer protection councils.
They guide consumers on how to file cases in the
consumer court. On many occasions, they also
represent individual consumers in the consumer courts.
These voluntary organisations also receive financial
support from the government for creating awareness
among the people.
• If you are living in a residential colony, you might have
noticed name boards of Resident Welfare Associations.
If there is any unfair trade practice meted out to their
members they take up the case on their behalf.
• Consumer Courts: This is a three-tier quasi-judicial system.
The district level court deals with cases involving claims
upto Rs. 20 lakh. The state level court deals with cases
between Rs. 20 lakh and Rs. 1 crore. The national level
court dealt with cases which involve claims exceeding Rs. 1
• If a case is dismissed in district level court, the consumer
can also appeal in state and then in National level courts.
• District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF)
• State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC)
• National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
• The choice of court will depend on the amount of
transaction and relief you seek and the location where the
cause of action arises.
National Consumers’ Day
24th December is celebrated as the National
Consumers’ Day. It was on this day that the Indian
Parliament enacted the Consumer Protection Act in
1986. India is one of the few countries that have
exclusive courts for consumer redressal. The
consumer movement in India has made significant
progress in recent times. At present, there are more
than 700 consumer groups. Out of them, about 20
25 are well organized and are recognized for their
CONSUMER DUTIES :
-Make sure that your consumer rights are respected.
- Complain if you are not satisfied with products and
services even if you are not personally affected.
- Demand a refund or replacement for inferior
products and services even if the money involved is
- Read all documents carefully before signing and
make sure that you understand the contents.
- Be informed in the language you understand.