Author: Kumari Smriti
Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur
Consumer Protection and Empowerment
In the modern era the trade and business has become universal phenomenon and trade and commerce has become e-commerce. Many business activities are being conducted through internet . So, it was feel that a strong legislation is necessary to protect the interest of consumers so that he/she could be able to associate with digital products and services throughout the country and universe as well.
In India there is a phrase as “Grahak Devo Bhavah ”. It means that the consumer were treated as God but in the modern era they are exploited by using unfair trade practice by the powerful businessmen. A complete legislation was framed by the Indian government in the year 1986 as “ The Consumer Protection Act 1986” to protect the rights of consumer from exploitation and to speedy resolve their disputes within short span of time in the light of UN charter.
The Act is to provide for better protection of interest of consumers and for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumer disputes and with matters connected therewith. “Consumer ” in Consumer Protection Act 1986 is defined in section- 2(1(d)).
In the old act 1986 the disputes of the consumer were settled by 3 adjudicatory body i.e.
1. District consumer redressal forum.
2. State consumer redressal forum .
3. National consumer dispute redressal forum.
For effective administration and adjudication of consumer disputes it was revealed that a fresh legislation be made for protection of the interest of consumer and to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes. So, the new Consumer protection Act 2019 came into existence on 9th Aug 2019. In CPA 2019 an administrative body namely Central Consumer Protection Authority has came into force to regulate matters relating to violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisement which are pre judicial to the interest of public and consumers and to promote , protect and enforce the rights of consumer as a class . CCPA as authority to impose penality on the manufacturers which extend to 50 lakh rupees and also sentenced for misleading advertisement.
In the new Act the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum has become commission its precuniary jurisdiction upto 1 Cr . The people can get redress their grievances on the district level within a short span of time . The consumers can file the complaint in the nearest district consumer protection commission where they reside . In the matter of Regulator there is no any provision for separate regulator in earlier Act but in the new Act a regulatory body will be there which is going to be known as Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA). There is no any provision with respect to E-commerce in Consumer Protection Act 1986, However on coming of the new Act that is Consumer Protection Act 2019 all rules of direct selling has extended to e-commerce. There is no any provision for mediation cells in the earlier Act but now the court has the power to refer settlement through meditation. In earlier Act the pecuniary jurisdiction of District Court is upto ₹ 20 lakh , states have ₹20 lakh to 1Cr and Nation has jurisdiction above 1Cr while In the present Act the pecuniary jurisdiction of District Court has extended upto ₹1Cr, States have jurisdiction from ₹1Cr to 10Cr and Nation has jurisdiction above ₹10Cr. In the matter of filing of complaints, earlier complaint can be filed only in the Consumer Court where seller or Defendant office is located, but now In the new Act the consumer can file complaint in a consumer court where he/she resides or works. The district consumer dispute redressal commission is empowered to compensate the consumer and also to punish the wrong doers.
Some landmark judgements of Supreme Court :-
1. Indian Medical Association Vs. V.P. Shantha & Others.1
In this case , A three judge bench of the Supreme Court held that services rendered by a medical practitioner fall within the ambit of services under S-2(1)(o) of the Consumer Protection Act,1986.
2. Sehgal School of Competition Vs Dalbir Singh. 2
In this case the State Tribunal following the Judgement of SC held that no educational institution shall collect lump sum fee for the duration of the entire course and if one does such extra fee should be returned in case the student drops due to deficiency.
3. Spring Meadows Hospital & Anr Vs. Harjo Ahluwalia.3
In this case the Supreme Court held the definition of Services in CPA is wide enough to include both the parents who pay for the services and the child who is a minor and is the beneficiary of the services.
 1996 AIR 550, 1995 SCC (6) 651 2 Revision Petition No. 813 of 2009 in 813 of 2009 in Appeal No. 1043 of 08 3 [(1998)4 SCC 39]