Consumer protection Act Consumer protection consists of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade competition and the free flow of truthful information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors and may provide additional protection for the weak and those unable to take care of themselves. Consumer protection laws are a form of government regulation which aim to protect the rights of consumers. For example, a government may require businesses to disclose detailed information about products—particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food. Consumer protection is linked to the idea of "consumer rights" (that consumers have various rights as consumers), and to the formation of consumer organizations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and get help with consumer complaints. Other organizations that promote consumer protection include government organizations and self-regulating business organizations such as consumer protection agencies and organizations, the Federal Trade Commission, ombudsmen, Better Business Bureaus, etc. A consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing. Consumer interests can also be protected by promoting competition in the markets which directly and indirectly serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency, but this topic is treated in competition law. Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government organizations and individuals as consumer activism The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (in short, ‘the Act’), is aiso benevolent social legislation that lays down the rights of the consumers and provides their for promotion and protection of the rights of the consumers. The first and the only Act of its kind in India, it has enabled ordinary consumers to secure less expensive and often speedy redressal of their grievances. By spelling out the rights and remedies of the consumers in a market so far dominated by organized manufacturers and traders of goods and providers of various types of services, the Act makes the dictum, caveat emptor (‘buyer beware’) a thing of the past. The Act mandates establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at the Centre as well as in each State and District, with a view to promoting consumer awareness.The Central Council is headed by Minster, In-charge of the Department of Consumer Affairs in the Central Government and the State Councils by the Minister In-charge of the Consumer Affairs in the State Governments. It also provides for a 3-tier structure of the National and State Commissions and District Forums for speedy resolution of consumer disputes. To provide inexpensive, speedy and summary redressal of consumer disputes, quasi-judicial bodies have been set up in each District and State and at the National level, called the District Forums, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission respectively. At present, there are 629 District Forums and 35 State Commissions with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) at the apex. NCDRC has its office at Upbhokta Naya Bhawan, 'F' Block, GPO Complex, INA, New Delhi-110 023.Each District Forum is headed by a person who is or has been or is eligible to be appointed as a District Judge and each State Commission is headed by a person who is or has been a Judge of High Court.The National Commission was constituted in the year 1988. It is headed by a sitting or retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India. The National Commission is presently headed by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ashok Bhan, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India as President and has seven Members, viz. Hon’ble Mr. Anupam Dasgupta, Hon’ble Mr. S. K. Naik, Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.C. Jain, Hon'ble Mrs. Vineeta Rai, Hon'ble Mr. Vinay Kumar, Hon'ble Mr. Suresh Chandra & Hon'ble Mr. Justice V.B Gupta,. The provisions of this Act cover ‘goods’ as well as ‘services’. The goods are those which are manufactured or produced and sold to consumers through wholesalers and retailers. The services are in the nature of transport, telephone, electricity, housing, banking, insurance, medical treatment, etc. A written complaint, can be filed before the District Consumer Forum for pecuniary value of upto Rupees twenty lakh, State Commission for value upto Rupees one crore and the National Commission for value above Rupees one crore, in respect of defects in goods and or deficiency in service. The service can be of any description and the illustrations given above are only indicative. However, no complaint can be filed for alleged deficiency in any service that is rendered free of charge or under a contract of personal service. The remedy under the Consumer Protection Act is an alternative in addition to that already available to the aggrieved persons/consumers by way of civil suit. In the complaint/appeal/petition submitted under the Act, a consumer is not required to pay any court fees but only a nominal fee. Consumer Fora proceedings are summary in nature. The endeavor is made to grant relief to the aggrieved consumer as quickly as in the quickest possible, keeping in mind the provisions of the Act which lay down time schedule for disposal of cases.If a consumer is not satisfied by the decision of a District Forum, he can appeal to the State Commission. Against the order of the State Commission a consumer can come to the National Commission. In order to help achieve the objects of the Consumer Protection Act, the National Commission has also been conferred with the powers of administrative control over all the State Commissions by calling for periodical returns regarding the institution, disposal and pendency of cases. The National Commission is empowered to issue instructions regarding (1) adoption of uniform procedure in the hearing of the matters, (2) prior service of copies of documents produced by one party to the opposite parties, (3) speedy grant of copies of documents, and (4) generally over-seeing the functioning of the State Commissions and the District Forums to ensure that the objects and purposes of the Act are best served, without interfering with their quasi-judicial freedom. Consumer law Consumer protection law or consumer law is considered an area of law that regulates private law relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell those goods and services. Consumer protection covers a wide range of topics, including but not necessarily limited to product liability, privacy rights, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation, and other consumer/business interactions.Consumer protection laws deal with a wide range of issues including credit repair, debt repair, product safety, service and sales contracts. Consumer Bill Of Rights Before the mid-twentieth century, consumers were without rights with regard to their interaction with products and commercial producers. Consumers had little ground on which to defend themselves against faulty or defective products, or against misleading or deceptive advertising method By the 1950s, a movement called consumerism began to gather a following, pushing for increased rights and legal protection against malicious business practices. By the end of the decade, legal product liability had been established in which an aggrieved party need only prove injury by use of a product, rather than bearing the burden of proof of corporate negligence. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy presented a speech to the United States Congress in which he extolled four basic consumer rights, later called The Consumer Bill of Rights. The Four Basic Rights Of Consumer The Right to Safety The assertion of this right is aimed at the defense of consumers against injuries caused by products other than automobile vehicles, and implies that products should cause no harm to their users if such use is executed as prescribed. The Right was established in 1972 by the US federal government, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has jurisdiction over thousands of commercial products, and powers that allow it to establish performance standards, require product testing and warning labels, demand immediate notification of defective products, and, when necessary, to force product recall. The Right to Be Informed This right states that businesses should always provide consumers with enough appropriate information to make intelligent and informed product choices. Product information provided by a business should always be complete and truthful. Aiming to achieve protection against misleading information in the areas of financing, advertising, labeling, and packaging, the right to be informed is protected by several pieces of legislation passed between 1960 and 1980. The Right to Choose The right to free choice among product offerings states that consumers should have a variety of options provided by different companies from which to choose. The federal government has taken many steps to ensure the availability of a healthy environment open to competition through legislation including limits on concept ownership through Patent Law, prevention of monopolistic business practices through Anti-Trust Legislation, and the outlaw of price cutting and gouging. The Right to Be Heard This right asserts the ability of consumers to voice complaints and concerns about a product in order to have the issue handled efficiently and responsively. While no federal agency is tasked with the specific duty of providing a forum for this interaction between consumer and producer, certain outlets exist to aid consumers if difficulty occurs in communication with an aggrieving party. State and federal Attorney Generals are equipped to aid their constituents in dealing with parties who have provided a product or service in a manner unsatisfactory to the consumer in violation of an applicable law. Also, the Better Business Bureau is a national non-governmental organization whose sole agenda is to provide political lobbies and action on behalf of aggrieved consumers. Expansion to Eight Rights In 1985, the concept of consumer rights was endorsed by the United Nations through the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection, which expands them to included eight basic rights. These have also been restated as a charter of rights by the international NGO Consumers International, recognising the following additional rights: The right to satisfaction of basic needs To have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation. The right to redress To receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services. The right to consumer education To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them. The right to a healthy environment To live and work in an environment which is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations. However, consumer protection can only truly exist in first world, industrialized, or developed nations due to the fiscal resources necessary to properly execute legal protection of consumer interests.