Consumer protection refers to protecting the consumer against unscrupulous and exploitative trade practices of manufacturers and sellers and educating consumers about their rights and responsibilities. The reasons behind the need of consumer protection are:
• unorganized consumers,
• illiteracy and ignorance,
• deceptive advertising,
• malpractice of businessmen and
• production of duplicate products.
Consumer protection important from consumer’s point of view are consumer ignorance, unorganised consumers and widespread exploitation of consumers like supplying defective and unsafe products, adulteration etc.
From business point of view consumer protection is necessary for reasons::
• long-term interest of business,
• public image, use of social resources,
• moral/ ethical justification,
• social responsibility and
• government intervention.
Some of the important acts providing legal protection to consumers are Consumer Protection Act 1986, Sales of Goods Act 1930, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954, Essential Commodities Act 1955, Contract Act, 1982, Competition Act 2002 and The Bureau of Indian Standards Act 1986 etc.
The consumer protection act has provided certain rights to consumers:
• Right to safety,
• Right to be informed,
• Right to Choose.
• Right to be Heard,
• Right to Seek Redressal and
• Right to Consumer education, etc.
Redressal agencies under the consumer protection act provides setting up of a three tier enforcement machinery at the District level, State and National level called District Forum, State Commission and National Commission respectively. Complaints to be files on these forums depend upon the aggregate value of the goods or services complaints against and the compensation claimed. On being satisfied about the complaints, the appropriate consumer court may pass an order for the removal of defects in goods, replacement of defective product, refunding the price of the product and payment of appropriate compensation. NGOs engaged in consumer protection are Consumer Coordination Council Delhi, Voluntary organisation in interest of consumer education (Voice) Delhi, Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) Mumbai, CPC Ahmadabad, and Consumer Association Kolkata etc.