Consumer Protection

Consumer Protection
5.1  Introduction    
5.2  Importance of Consumer Protection   
5.3  Rights of Consumers
5.4  Consumer Responsibilities  
5.5  Ways and Means of Consumer Protection
5.6  Consumer Awareness and legal Redressal
5.7  Role of Consumer  organizations & NGOs  
5.8  Summary
5.9  Exercise

Mr. Rohit sent some important documents to Mr. Ramesh by courier service of a reputed company from Pune to Chennai. The documents were supposed to reach in 4 days but Mr. Ramesh did not receive the same even after 10 days of sending the documents. Mr. Rohit enquired in the Pune office of the courier company and was shocked by the reply received. The staff of the courier company could not find the address of Mr. Ramesh. So, as per the policy of that particular company, he destroyed the documents.
Mr. Rohit failed to understand why did the courier company not send the envelope back to him or not contacted him before taking any decision. Because, the envelope in which documents were sent to Chennai contains Mr. Rohit's address and phone number. Similarly, company's policy was not disclosed on the receipt given to Mr. Rohit.
Finally, he contacted a lawyer and filed a suit against courier company for careless handling of the envelope and for damage caused to him as well as to Mr. Ramesh.
         He won the case at consumer court because he was aware of his rights as consumer and power of Protection Act, 1986.
The question raised by Mr. Rohit is answered in this topic.

5.1     INTRODUCTION
         "In an environment of limited choice, inadequate supplies, incomplete information, ignorant consumers and unlimited demand, it is inevitable that the Indian consumer gets cheated", Joyita Gupta.
In world of today no one is self sufficient. So we all depend on manufacturers and sellers to satisfy our needs. We become consumers of many products and services. The Consumer is the one who consumes or uses any commodity or service available to him either from natural resources or through a market. However, growing size and complexity of production and distribution systems, high level of sophistication in selling techniques and different forms of advertising confuse consumers. Powerful manufacturers and sellers can easily exploit consumers. So, it becomes necessary to have some machinery to ensure lower prices, better choice and access to essential goods and services. Various steps are taken by the government as well as by the NGOs to protect consumers.

Meaning of consumer:
The word 'consumer' is a derivative of the Latin word `consumere' which means, `to eat or drink'. The consumer is one who consumes or uses any commodity or service available to him either from natural resources or through market.

5.2     IMPORTANCE OF CONSUMER PROTECTION
Even though, in the modern competitive market consumer is regarded as the king but in reality he gets exploited by manufacturers and sellers. They are in superior position than consumers. So, consumers need to be protected. Consumer protection means safeguard the interest of the consumers and allowing him to exercise his rights. Protection of the interest of consumers with the help of various laws is a recent development. But history shows that even in ancient times kings and emperors have taken note of protection of consumer rights.
The following extract from the book "Consumer Protection Administration, Organisation and Working" by Cheena Gambhir talks about Consumer Protection in ancient times:
"Arthashastra of Kautilya details the precepts and practices of the Mauryan State where it was the duty of the superintendents to put government products in the market under favourable conditions and to supervise their sales at reasonable rates. Merchants who cheated or interfered generally with the normal functioning of the market (prices) were open to heavy punishment."
The following points emphasise the importance of consumer protection:
1.       Seller dominant market : If the market is dominated by sellers then the consumer's choice as well as his welfare gets the last preference. All the transactions are finalised in favour of sellers, middlemen and manufacturers. e.g. if there is shortage of goods then the buyer will have to buy a product at the price quoted by the seller.
2.       Ignorance of consumers : Ignorance of consumers about their rights, market conditions, price levels, product details, etc. result into consumer exploitation. Many times consumers do not even realise that they are being cheated. e.g. a shopkeeper may sell a product which is actually received by him as free sample, free gifts offered by company may not reach upto the consumer.
3.       Tendency of the consumers: Majority of the consumers get attracted towards the products of cheap prices, discounts, various schemes, etc, This weakness of the consumers leads to their exploitation without their knowledge.
4.       Unorganised Consumers : Consumers neither organized nor united. Compared to them the producers and sellers are in a superior position. An individual consumer cannot fight against powerful traders. Thus, it is easy to exploit unorganized and widely spread consumers.
5.       Nature of Products : Modern products are the end results of complicated production processes. It is beyond the capacity of poor and illiterate consumers to judge the quality or safety aspects of a product. Moreover these consumers/customers cannot take legal help even though they realize that they are being cheated because they do not understand production process thoroughly.
6.       Lack of information : Today's consumer lives in a complex world. Distance between producer and consumer is vast. It is impossible to establish direct contact between producer and consumer. After globalization and liberalization policy of the government, the market is full of domestic as well as imported products. But it is difficult for the consumer to get reliable information about the product before it is purchased. He relies on commercials of the product or on trial and error method. In both the cases chances of consumer exploitation are high.
7.       Lack of participation of consumers : It is observed that certain decisions, which directly affect consumer's interest are taken without any consultation with consumers or their organizations. e.g. Charges of daily necessities such as public transport, cooking gas, telephone, electricity, etc. Only a strong consumer movement can pressurize various organizations to allow consumer participation in the decision making process.
8.       Increase in consumption rate : Compared to earlier period, consumption rate is increased due to increase in population as well as tendency of the people to lead a comfortable life. It results into mass production, many varieties, increased prices, unfair trade practices, etc. Such a situation in the market confuses the consumers and they fall prey to exploitation.
9.       To restrict unfair trade practices : When more and more consumers start taking support of Consumer Protection Act (1986) to resolve their grievances then it will automatically pressurise the manufacturers, middlemen and traders for not conducting the trade by unfair means.

5.3     RIGHTS OF CONSUMERS
15th March is observed every year "Consumer Rights Day" throughout the world. This is because on this day in the year 1962, the then president of U.S.A. declared certain rights (first four of the following) of consumers. Some more rights were added later on by the International Organisation of Consumers Union.
The Consumer Protection Act, passed by the Indian government in 1986 also incorporates these rights of consumers. Along with that, two more (last two of the following) rights were added by the Amendment Act in 1993 and 2002.
Following are the various rights of consumers:
1.       Right to Safety : It is one of the basic rights of consumers. It protects them against the marketing of those goods and services which are hazardous to their life and property. In other words, traders should assure that the goods to be sold will not cause any damage to life or property of the consumer. If the goods are of hazardous nature then clear instructions must be given on how to use the goods and also the risk involved in the improper use of the goods: Even in case of ordinary goods, care has to be taken. e.g. a chemist should not sell the medicines after its expiry date or a hotel owner should not serve stale food to his customers. Sometimes, it may happen that the product is found to be hazardous after selling it in the market. In such a situation-the Right to Safety expects the trader to recall the product or to modify it or he should compensate, the consumer for the damage.
2.       Right to Information : According to this right, consumers should get correct information about the price, quality, purity, quantity, ingredients, etc. of the goods to be purchased. He should also be properly instructed about the use of the product and risks involved in improper use of the product. e.g. the wrapper should contain the information regarding date of manufacturing, date of expiry, ingredients used, price etc. or pack of electronic item should contain Instruction Manual etc. This information allows consumers to make right choice of goods and services. It also assures safety of consumer as well as the article itself.
Observe any five products of different types and see whether the wrappers or packs provide relevant information in detail.

3.       Rights to Choose: Today's markets are full of variety of goods. The consumer should be able to make a choice from a wide range of products. He has a right to choose the goods as per his need and budget. Very often traders use pressure tactics for selling poor quality goods. 'The Right to Choose enables a consumer to select a suitable product from among the available variety in the market at a competitive price. This right restricts monopolistic tendencies in the market. No seller can compel consumers to buy a particular product or service.
4.       Right to be heard : This right assures that consumer grievances and complaints will be heard and will receive due consideration at appropriate forums. This right allows a consumer to express his views about the product or service brought by him. Every consumer has the right to file a complaint and be heard about it. e.g. a consumer watches an advertisement on TV that promises free home delivery of an article. He orders the article by making payment on line. But at the time of actual delivery of the article the person denies the delivery without paying delivery charges. In such a situation the consumer has every right to file a suit against the seller for misleading advertisement.
5.       Right to Redressal: Only filing a complaint is not sufficient for a consumer to get justice, so the Right to Redressal is also recognised along with the Right to Represent. This right enables a consumer to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation. This right assures proper legal arrangement to attend to his complaint and to get it redressed. It is done through Consumer Protection Act, 1986 under which District Forum, State Commission and National Commission is established. It entitles the consumer to get due compensation in case of any loss suffered by him.
6.       Right to Education: This right entitles the consumer to know about consumer rights, market practices and remedies available to them. This knowledge creates awareness among consumers and they can protect themselves from unfair trade practices in a better way. The government, media as well as various NGOs can play a significant role to create awareness among consumers and to educate them. e.g. Jago Grahak Jago campaign.
         Consumer awareness and education are very essential to stop malpractices in the market. Consumers should be educated about the ways in which they can be cheated, relevant laws which can help them and the procedure involved in taking legal help.
7.       Right to Healthy Environment : As a human being the consumer has the right to lead his life in a healthy environment. They must have clean and pollution free environment in the present as well as the future. e.g. if production process of a manufacturer is creating air and water pollution then society can take objection. Measures like Public Interest Litigation can be used.
         The picture shows the wrong way to dispose off industrial waste in river. It creates water pollution which must not be done by any business house.
8.       Right to Protect Against Unfair Trade Practices:
         As the name suggests, this right offers protection to consumers against any kind of unfair trade practices. Consumers can raise their voice against wrong measurements, artificial shortages, exorbitant prices, etc. This right was incorporated by the Amendments Act, 1993.
9.       Right to Protect Against Spurious Goods:
         This right has been added to the Consumer Protection Act by the Amendments Act, 2002. According to this right, consumers are protected from marketing of spurious and hazardous goods. It protects public health and life.

5.4     CONSUMER RESPONSIBILITIES
A responsible consumer is the one who takes active part in consumer protection. While exercising the rights described above a consumer is expected to shoulder responsibilities and take an active role in consumer movement. Responsibilities of consumers are as under:
1.       Critical Awareness : It is the responsibility of the consumer to be alert and question about the price and quality of the goods and services he buys and uses. Consumer should look, listen and ask questions. He should assess the value for money, value for people and the value for environment.
2.       Action: It is the Consumer's responsibility to be assertive and act to ensure that he gets a fair deal. As long as he remains as a passive Consumer he will continue to be exploited. When something is wrong, one should act to put it right. One should value relationship with others in the community. The Consumer needs to ensure that he does not compromise his, culture and customs to get a fair deal.
3.       Social Concern: It is the responsibility of a consumer to be aware of the impact of his use of consumer goods and services on the citizens, especially disadvantage and powerless groups whether in the local, regional or international community. He needs to make sure that the products and services he uses are not produced in an environment that harms others.
4.       Environmental Concern: The consumer should understand environmental and other consequences of his consumption. He should recognise his individual and collective responsibility to conserve natural resources and protect the earth for future generations. He needs to make sure that the production, use and disposal of goods and services do not harm the environment.
5.       Sustainable Consumption: The consumer, before buying goods or before availing services should satisfy himself about the need for the same and also should consume only up to his requirement and should not let goods or services go waste.
6.       Working Together: A consumer should shoulder the responsibility to promote and protect the interest of consumers. One should organise consumers and make them work together for the welfare of all consumers at large.
A consumer should take care
1.       Before buying
·         Planning in advance
·         Enquiring past performance of product/service
·         Enquiring about past performance of product/seller/service provider
2.       While Buying
·         Asking for demonstration regarding how to operate/use the product/service.
·         Enquiring about after-sales service and ensuring availability, phone number, address and e-mail of service centre.
·         a Reading and knowing the contents of guarantee/warranty card.
·         Insisting on approved sale bill with serial number, address, phone number, etc.
·         Obtaining guarantee/warranty card and getting it signed/sealed by the dealer.
3.       After Buying
·         Using products as per instructions given in user manual.
·         Keeping bills and guarantee card safely.
·         In case of fault inform dealer and service centre. Do not meddle or try to repair it on your own.
·         Seek immediate redressal of deficiency in product.

5.5.    WAYS AND MEANS OF CONSUMER PROTECTION
Even though we have the Consumer Protection Act and many other legislations passed by the government to protect the interests of consumers, consumer exploitation is not restricted. As a matter of fact, the judiciary system alone cann9t,restrict consumer exploitation. So many other ways and means are adopted for consumer protection. They are as follows:
1.       Lok Adalat : It is one of the ways to resolve consumer problems. It can also be referred as Peoples Court. It is established by the government to settle disputes by compromise. It is held by State authority, District authority, Supreme Court Legal Service Committee, High Court Legal Service Committee Taluka Legal Service. It accepts cases pending in regular ­courts and can be settled by compromise. However both the parties should agree to transfer the case to Lok Adalat from the regular court or if on the application of one party the court sees any chance of compromise. No court fees are charged. If a matter cannot be resolved by compromise it is returned to the regular court. Resolution of disputes by Lok Adalat gets statutory recognition. Some organisations hold Lok Adalats regularly e.g. Railways, Electricity Boards, Telephone Exchanges, Insurance Companies in public sector.
2.       Public Interest Litigation (Janahit Yachika): Under this scheme any person can approach court of law in the interest of the public. It does not involve any individual interest. Its aim is to provide legal remedy to unrepresented groups of the society. One such group is the consumers. It lies before high court.
3.       Redressal Forums: Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, Consumer Dispute Redressal Agencies have been established by the State and Central Government. These agencies are District Forum, State Commission and National Commission. Supreme Court of India plays the role of the final court of appeal. The main objective of these forums is to protect the rights of the consumers and to offer speedy and inexpensive redressal for consumer complaints.
Conduct interviews of five consumers to find out whether they are aware of their rights as consumers.
4.       Awareness Programmes: The Government of India has adopted various publicity measures to increase the level of consumer awareness. The government makes use of journals, brochures, posters, etc. to convey the message of consumer protection, consumer courts, etc. The society in general observes World Consumer Rights Day on 15th March and National Consumer Day (of India) on 24th December. Various consumer related programmes are telecasted on various TV channels. Even all India Radio and FM channels are used for this purpose.
5.       Consumer Organisations: Many consumer organisations are active throughout the world as well as in India. It was realised that just by talking about moral conduct or about code of fair business practices or even by making legal provisions, it is not possible to discipline all the members of the business community. Instead, it is necessary to strengthen the consumer movement. Thus, more and more consumer organisations are helping the consumers to fight for their rights through protests, campaigning, lobbying, etc.
6.       Consumer Welfare Fund: It is created by the Department of Revenues for providing financial assistance to voluntary consumer movement, particularly in rural areas. This money is used in consumer education, complaint handling-, counselling, guidance, etc.
7.       Legislative Measures: Indian Government has passed many acts to protect consumers. Some of them are Drug Control Act 1950, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954, Essential Commodities Act 1955, The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, etc. An important act was also the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969. However, these acts could not protect consumers in the real sense. So a more elaborate legislation was passed i.e. the Consumer Protection Act in 1986. Under this act a consumer can file a suit against any manufacturer or seller in case of loss due to the use of any product or services.
Collect information from a complainant who has filed a case consumer court. (It can cover the points like nature of complaint, amount of compensation claimed, which consumer code, procedure of legal suit, etc.)
5.6     CONSUMER AWARENESS AND LEGAL REMBXSSAL
with Special Reference to Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The government as well as consumer organizations take steps to create consumer awareness. They use audio visual media, hoardings, campaigns, etc. to convey the message about rights of consumers and legal support available for consumer protection. Only enacting legislation cannot guarantee consumer protection. For effective implementation of judiciary system, it is very important that consumers are made aware about its existence and importance.
The Indian government has passed many legislations to protect the interest of the ultimate user. These include the Sale of goods Act, Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1866, MRTP Act, 1969, Essential Commodities Act, 1955, etc. Even after introducing amendments in these acts from time to time, the ultimate users were not protected from defective goods, overcharging of prices, unscrupulous exploitation, etc. Thus a very important legislation i.e. The Consumer Protection Act was passed by the parliament. This Act provides quasi judiciary machinery for redressing consumer grievances. The main objective of the Act is to provide simple, speedy and cheaper remedy for the problems of the consumers. However, no complaint can be filed for any deficiency in a product or service which is rendered free of charge. The consumer courts established under CPA have simple procedures to avoid unnecessary delay because CPA is a social welfare legislation. The consumer redressal courts under CPA hear grievances of consumers regarding damages caused by unfair trade practises, unsatisfactory services, defective products, unsafe products, etc. and arrange for the redressal of the same after finding out the truth. The order given by these courts are legally binding on both the parties.
The objective of CPA is expeditious and inexpensive settlement of consumer disputes. To achieve this objective the act provides the following three tier quasi-judicial consumer disputes redressal machinery at district, state and national level.
1.       DISTRICT FORUM
It is the consumer redressal forum at each district to be established by the State Government.

Composition of the District Forum.
a.     President : A person who is or has been or is qualified to be a District Judge.
b.     Members : Two other members, one of whom shall be a woman. These two members shall have the following qualifications:
·        They should not be less than 35 years of age.
·        They should possess a Bachelors Degree from a recognised university.
·        They should be persons of ability, -integrity and standing and have adequate knowledge and experience of at least 10 years in dealing with problems related to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industries, public affairs or administration.
The appointment of the President and the Members is made by the State government at the recommendation of the Selection Committee. Every member of the District Forum shall hold the office for a term of 5 years or up to the age of 65, whichever is earlier. If recommended by the Selection Committee, the members are eligible for reappointment up to the age of 65 years. Establishment of District Forum in each district is a mandatory provision, particularly when the workload exceeds minimum monthly 150 cases for 6 months.
Jurisdiction of the District Forum:
i.      It can entertain those cases in which the value of the goods or services and the compensation if any, does not exceed ? 201akh.
ii.     It can exercise its jurisdiction within the limits of its district.
2.     STATE COMMISSION
It is also called as the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. It has to be established by the State government.
Composition of the State Commission:
a.       President : A person who is or has been a judge of a High Court is appointed by the state government. However this appointment is made only after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.
b.       Member : Minimum two other members, one of whom shall be a woman. They shall have the following qualifications.
·         They should not be less than 35 years of age.
·         They should possess a Bachelors Degree from a recognised university.
·         They should be persons of ability, integrity and standing and have adequate knowledge and experience of at least 10 years in dealing with problems related to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industries, public affairs or administration.
Duration : Every member of the State Commission shall hold office for a term of 5 years or up to the age of 67 years, whichever is earlier. However, members are eligible for reappointment on the recommendation of the Selection Committee.
Jurisdiction : Subject to the other provision of this Act, the State Commission shall have jurisdiction.
a.       Monetary : Original cases to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees twenty lakhs but does not exceed rupees one crore; and
b.       Appellate : To entertain appeals against the orders of a District Forum within the State, and
c.       Supervisory or Revisional : To call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any District Forum within the State.
Transfer of Cases : On the application of complainant or of its own motion, the National Commission can transfer any pending case from one District Forum to another or from one State Commission to another State Commission. Such a decision is taken in the interest of justice.
Appeal against Order of State Commission : Any person who does not agree with the order of the State Commission can appeal to the National Commission. within 30 days.
3.       NATIONAL COMMISSION
         It is established by the Central Government by notification. It is also known as National consumer disputes Redressal Commission.  
Composition of National Commission.
a.       President : A person who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court. He is appointed after consultation with Chief Justice.
b.       Members : At least four members one of whom shall be a woman. The members shall have the following qualifications:
·         They should not be less than 35 years of age.
·         They should possess a Bachelors Degree from a recognised university.
·         They should be persons of ability, integrity and standing and have adequate knowledge and experience of at least 10 years in dealing with problems related to economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industries, public affairs or administration.
Duration: Every member should hold office for a term of five years or up to the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier. However, members are eligible for reappointment for another term of five years or up to the age of 70 years whichever is earlier on the recommendation of the Selection Committee.
Jurisdiction: Subject to the provisions of this Act, the National Commission shall have jurisdiction.
a.       Monetary: To entertain complaints where, the value of goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees one crore.
b.       Appellate: To entertain appeals against the orders of any State Commission.
c.       Supervisory or Revisional : To call for records and pass appropriate orders.
In any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any State Commission where it appears in the National Commission that such State commission has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law or has failed to exercise in its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.

5.7     ROLE OF CONSUMER ORGANISATION AND NGOs
[Non-Government Organisations]
Consumer organisations are voluntary groups of people who work for a cause of protecting consumers from hazardous products, false advertising, pollution, etc. They function through protests, campaigns, lobbying, etc. Their main objective is to establish consumer rights. All these organisations are Non-Governmental Organisations i.e. NGOs. They are non-profit and non-political, independent groups working for a definitive cause. They have a constitution and rules of their own. They depend on donations. NGOs work for various social causes, one such cause being consumer protection. They do not have statutory powers but they form a strong support network for consumers. They give a feel to the consumers that they are not alone in the fight against manufacturers and sellers. Instead, they have a support of strong social organisations. They make the government take note of consumer grievances. They create awareness among people about their rights and also advice consumers on legal action to be taken in case of loss.
There are many NGOs in India working for consumers. The following are a few examples:
•   Consumer Guidance Society of India (www.cgsiindia.org)
•   Association of Consumer's Action on Safety and Health (www.acash.org)
•   Consumer Education and Research Centre (www.cercindia.org)
•   Consumer's Association of India (www.cai-india.org)
•   Mumbai Grahak Panchayat
•   Voice Society (www.consumer-voice.org)
•   Grahak Shakti (www.grahakshakti.org)
In general, the following functions are performed by NGOs:
i.        They undertake various programmes for creating awareness about consumer rights and for educating the general public.
ii.       They guide consumers in taking legal action in case of damage.
iii.      An NGO can represent a consumer in front of the government.
iv.      They arrange for comparative testing of consumer products through their own resources or through reliable laboratories and publish the test results for the information of the general public.
v.       They publish periodicals and journals to keep consumers informed.
vi.      They make suggestions and recommendations to government authorities while policy making.
vii.     Some NGOs have file cases in the court of law in the interest of the general public.

Comparative Analysis of District forum, State Commission and National Commission :

Sr. No.
Points of Distinguish
District Forum
State Commission
National Commission
1
Meaning
A consumer dispute redressal forum working at district level
A consumer dispute redressal forum working at state level
A consumer dispute redressal forum working at national level
2
Monetary Jurisdiction
It can entertain the cases where the value of goods/services and the compensation claimed is less than rupees twenty lakhs
It can entertain the cases where the value of goods/services and the compensation claimed is more than rupees twenty lakhs and less than rupees one crore
It can entertain the cases where the value of goods/services and the compensation claimed is more than rupees one crore
3
Duration
Every member should hold office for a term of five years or up to the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier.
Every member should hold office for a term of five years or up to the age of sixty-seven years, whichever is earlier.
Every members should hold office for a terms of five years or up to the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.
4
Nature of Complaints
Only original cases can be entertained which are within the local limits of a district
It can entertain original cases and also appeals against the order of District Forum within the geographical limits of the state
It can entertain original cases and also appeals against the order of State Commission.
5
Members
Other than presidents it has minimum two members
Other than president it has minimum two members
Other than president it has minimum four members.
6
Area Covered
It convers a particular district
It covers a particular state
It covers the entire country
7
President
District Judge or equivalent
High Court Judge or equivalent
Supreme Court Judge or equivalent.


5.8 SUMMARY
Consumer is a person who consumes or uses any commodity or service available to him either from natural resources or through a market. Consumer is at the centre of all marketing activities, however he is being easily exploited by manufacturers and sellers due to the consumer's ignorance. At the same time consumers are unorganised and are not united.
Importance of consumer protection:
Various steps are taken to protect the interest of the consumers. The consumers need to be protected due to the reasons such as ignorance of the consumers, lack of information, complex nature of products etc.
Following rights of consumers are incorporated in the Consumer Protection Act,
•   Right to safety
•   Right to information
•   Right to choose
•   Right to represent
•   Right to education
•   Right to healthy environment
•   Right to be protected from unfair trade practices
•   Right to be protected from spurious goods.
Responsibilities of Consumers: While exercising his rights, a consumer is expected to shoulder responsibilities and take an active part in the consumer movement. He is expected to be aware of the market conditions, his rights, etc. Similarly he should be concerned about his role in the protection of social and environmental condition. Being a consumer he should support other consumers and help them justice.
Ways and means of Consumer Protection: Along with the various legislations passed by the government there are many other ways to protect the interests of consumers. Some of them are, Lok Adalat, Public Interest Litigation, Redressal Forum, Awareness Programmes, Consumer Organisations, Consumer Welfare Fund and Legislative measures.
Legal Redressal with Special Reference to Consumer Protection Act: Consumer Protection Act assures speedy and inexpensive settlement of consumer disputes with the help of three tier quasi Judicial consumer disputes redressal machinery i.e. District Forum, State Commission and National Commission.
Role of Consumer Organisations and NGOs : Consumer Organisations are voluntary groups of people who work for a cause of protecting consumer interest. There are non-governmental organisations also. They make the government take note of consumer grievances.



5.9 EXERCISE
0.1 (A) Select the proper option from the options given below and rewrite the complete
1.       Under the consumer Protection Act, 1986, there is a ...................... quasi judicial consumer dispute redressal machinery for solving the complaints of the consumers.
         a) Two-tier b) Five-tier c) Three-tier
2.       In the modern competitive market, consumer is regarded as the .......................
         a) King b) Agency c) Superintendent
3.       A District Forum can entertain the claims up to Z ......................
         a) 10 lakh b) 20 lakh c) 1 crore
4.       State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission is popularly known as .................
         a) National Commission b) State Commission c) District Forum
5.       The President of State Commission is......................
         a) District Court Judge b) Supreme Court Judge c) High Court Judge
6.       Amendments were introduced to Consumer Protection Act in the year 1993 and ......................
         a) 1998 b) 2000 c) 2002
7.       Any person who does not agree with the decision of State Commission can appeal to the ..........
         a) Supreme Court b) High Court c) National Commission
8.       Right to ...................... restricts monopolistic tendencies in the market.
         a) information b) choose c) safety
9.       The Government has established ............. to settle the consumer disputes by compromise.
         a) Lok Adalat b) District Forum c) Supreme Court
10.     National Commission has ............... members in addition to the president
         a) 2  b) 3  c) 4



(B)     Match the correct pairs
Group 'A'
Group 'B'
a. Right to Redressal
b. District Judge
c. Mumbai Grahak Panchayat
d. Consumer Protection Act
e. Creating consumer awareness
1. An NGO working for consumers
2. 1986
3. use of media
4. seek legal remedy in the court
5. 1985
6. political organisation
7. President of District Forum
8. selecting best quality product
9. Chairman of National Commission
10. Duty of consumers



(C)     Write a word or a phrase or a term which can substitute each one of the following.
1.       The right of a consumer which allows him to express his views.
2.       The right of a consumer which creates an awareness in him about his rights.
3.       A consumer dispute redressal agency that handles the claims above 7 201akhs up to rupees one crore.
4.       Non-profit and non-political independent groups working for a definite cause.
5.       A consumer dispute redressal agency that handles claims up to rupees twenty lakhs.


Q.2    Distinguish between the following.
1.       District Forum and State Commission.
2.       State Commission and National Commission.
3.       National Commission and District Forum.


Q.3    Write short notes on the following.
1.       Rights of Consumers.
2.       Responsibilities of consumers.
3.       National Commission.
4.       State Commission.
5.       Role of NGOs in consumer protection.


Q.4    State with reasons whether the following statements are True or False.
1.       The consumer protection act was passed in the interest of the sellers.
2.       In India consumer protection act is not required.
3.       Lok Adalat can rightly be described as "people's court".
4.       Consumer Protection Act is a blessing for the consumers.
5.       The Government alone is fighting for consumer protection.
6.       Order issued by District Forum on a complaint is final.
7.       Consumer, being the king of the market, does not have any responsibilities.


Q.5    Write short answer of the following.
1.       Explain any five rights of Consumers.
2.       State the importance of Consumer Protection.
3.       Why is the enactment of Consumer Protection Act important for consumers?
4.       What do you mean by Consumer?
5.       What is the jurisdiction of National Commission?
6.       What is the jurisdiction of State Commission?
7.       What functions do NGOs perform for consumers?
8.       State the responsibilities of consumers.


Q.6    Answer the following questions
1.       What do you mean by Consumer protection? Explain its importance.
2.       What do you mean by consumer? Explain various rights of consumer.