World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated every year on March 15. According to Consumers International website, ‘the consumer movement marks March 15 with World Consumer Rights Day every year, as a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights and needs. Celebrating the day is a chance to demand that the rights of all consumers are respected and protected, and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights.’ In India, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, deals with the rights that ensure consumers in the country get goods and services worth their money. The act was passed in the assembly in October 1986 to protect the interests of consumers in India. It makes provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith also. Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the government of India gives us six basic rights that every Indian must know.
Here you go!
Right to Safety
Right to Safety is referred to as ‘right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property’. It is mainly applicable in healthcare, pharmaceuticals and food processing sectors. The right is also applicable in sectors that have an indirect impact on health including automobiles, housing, domestic appliances, and travel.
Right to Information
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, defines Right to Information as ‘the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices’. For instance, the consumers need to make aware of the cost involved for availing a loan, or pharmaceuticals must disclose the potentials side effects of drugs.
Right to Choose
Referred to as ‘the right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods at competitive prices’. Did you know a consumer can even bargain on the MRP, as it is not fixed by the government and the actual selling price could be lower depending on the taxes?
Right to be Heard
The Act defines the ‘Right to Heard’ as, ‘the right to be heard and to be assured that consumers’ interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums’. The right ensures that consumers come forward without any fear, file the complaint and raise their voice against any products and services. There are websites that let consumers upload their grievances which are later verified and forwarded to the consumer courts for redressal.
Right to Redressal
The Right to Redressal means, ‘the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers’. With the help of the Consumer Protection Act, consumer courts are incorporated for consumers to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or exploitation. These courts are set on three levels which includes District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums at the district level, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions at the state level and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions at the national level.
Right to Consumer Education
The right ensures that consumers in the country have easy access to informational programs and materials to help them with a better decision when it comes to availing any services. The information can be provided through formal education via educational institutions or through awareness campaigns organised by government bodies or NGOs.
With inputs from ‘Jago Grahak Jago’, a platform that deals with consumer complaints.