The Consumer Protection Act 1986 was implemented in India to protect the interests of consumers. This Act has come into force with effect from 1st July 1987 in the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. After the enactment of this Act, many shortcomings started appearing in it and the need to make extensive amendments in the provisions of the Act was felt. As a result, by the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 1993, certain deficiencies in the Act were removed and the scope of the Act was expanded. Once again it was felt that the provisions of the present Act are not as per the requirements, hence there is a need for comprehensive amendment in these provisions. As a result, the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002 was passed by the Government of India, which became effective from March 15, 2003.
Objectives of Consumer Protection Act
While introducing the Bill of this Act in the Parliament, the following objectives were stated-
(i) To protect and promote the rights of the consumer.
(ii) To make arrangements for the establishment of consumer councils for the protection of the interests and rights of consumers.
(iii) To make arrangements for settlement of consumer disputes and matters connected therewith.
(iv) Quick and easy settlement of consumer disputes.
(v) To provide for quasi-judicial machinery for settlement of consumer disputes.
MAJOR PROVISIONS OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986
1, Short title – This Act is called the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
2, Geographical Area – This Act is applicable equally to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir. This Act is equally applicable to all the Union Territories.
3, Scope of goods and services – This Act applies to all goods (goods) and services, unless the Central Government, by notification, exempts any goods or services from its provisions.
4, Additional Provisions – The provisions of this Act are in addition to the provisions of any other Act prevailing in the country. Therefore, this Act does not limit or reduce the scope of any other Act.
5, Effect of Act – This Act shall come into force with effect from the date of notification of the Central Government. The Central Government can implement the provisions of different chapters of this Act in different states of the country and from different dates.
6, Constitution of Consumer Protection Councils – Consumer Protection Councils were constituted at the Central and State level under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, but now under the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002, the district level also provides for the formation of Consumer Protection Council. provision has been made. The purpose of formation of these circles is to protect and promote the interests of the consumers.
7, Consumer Disputes Redressal System- The following three-tier quasi-judicial machinery has been made in the Consumer Protection Act for redressal of consumer complaints.
(i) District Forum – The State Government shall, by notification, establish a ‘Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum’ in every district which shall be known as ‘Zila Forum’. The State Government may also establish more than one District Forum in a district if it deems fit.
The District Forum is empowered to hear complaints where the cost of goods and services and the amount of compensation does not exceed twenty lakh rupees.
(ii) State Commission – Every State Government can establish a Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in its State with the prior approval of the Central Government. This is known as the State Commission. For this the state government issues notification. Only consumer disputes involving an amount of Rs 20 lakh or more but not exceeding Rs 1 crore can be submitted to the State Commission. The State Commission has also been empowered to hear appeals against District Forums.
(iii) National Commission – It is the apex body at the national level to settle consumer disputes. It is an independent statutory body. Its full name is National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The National Commission will hear all complaints in which the value of goods or services and the amount of compensation claimed exceeds one crore rupees.
8, Provision for Appeal – According to section 15, the aggrieved party can appeal against that order to the State Commission in the prescribed manner within 30 days from the date of order against the order of the District Forum. According to section 19, if any person by order of the State Commission. is not satisfied, he can appeal against that order before the National Commission within 30 days from the date of the order. According to section 23, the party aggrieved or aggrieved by the order of the National Commission can appeal to the Supreme Court within 30 days from the date of the order. In all these cases the appeal can be admitted even after 30 days from the date of order if the State Commission, National Commission or the Supreme Court (as the case may be) is satisfied that the cause of delay is just and just.
9, Finality of orders (Section 24) – In case of non-appeal against the order of any of the District Forum, State Commission or National Commission under the provisions of this Act, the order concerned is considered final.
10, Limitation Period – District Forum, State Commission or National Commission cannot accept complaints which are not presented within 2 years from the date of arising of cause of action. [Section 24(A)(i)]
Even after the expiry of the said period, the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission may admit complaints provided the complainant satisfies them that there were sufficient reasons for not preferring the appeal within the prescribed period. While admitting any such complaint, the reasons for the cancellation of delay shall be recorded. [Section 24 (A) (ii)]
11, Enforcement of Order – The following provisions are important regarding the implementation of the orders of the District Forum, State Commission and National Commission.
(i) Enforcement of interim order- If any interim order issued under the Act is not complied with, the District Forum, State Commission, or National Commission (as the case may be) shall attach the property of the person who did not comply with the order. can order. [Section 25(1)]
Property attached in the above manner can be kept for three months. After that the concerned forum or commission can sell that property. Out of the amount received from him, after paying the amount as compensation to the complainant, the remaining amount shall be given to the party who will be entitled
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(ii) Enforcement of final order – According to the order (final order) of the concerned Forum or Commission, any amount is to be recovered from any person, then the person entitled to that amount shall make an application to the concerned Forum or Commission. Thereafter, the concerned Forum or Commission will issue a certificate to that amount in the name of the District Collector and that District Magistrate will then proceed to recover that amount in the same way as it does to recover the arrears of land revenue. [Section 25(3)]
12, Rejection of family (complaint) – If the complaint concerned is found to be frivolous or vexatious, then the concerned District Forum, State Commission or National Commission can dismiss the said complaint, but the reasons therefore shall also be recorded. Also, the complainant can order to pay damages up to ten thousand rupees to the opposite party (respondent). (section 26)
13, Penal provisions – If any trader or person against whom a complaint has been lodged, does not comply with or contravenes any order made by the District Forum, State Commission or National Commission, then such trader or person shall be at least one shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to not less than Rs 2000 and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees, or with both. Provided that if the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission, whoever has ordered the punishment, is satisfied in view of the circumstances of the case, it may award punishment less than the minimum limits mentioned above. (section 27)
Other Provisions of the Act
1, Protection from actions done in good faith – If the members of the District Forum, State Commission, or National Commission and any officer acting in accordance with their instructions, are responsible for the orders given in good faith and the actions taken. No suit, prosecution or legal action can be taken against him. For this, it is necessary that the order given by them or the action taken for their implementation should be in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the rules made thereunder. [Section 28]
2: Removal of difficulties of implementation- If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may issue necessary or appropriate orders to remove the difficulty by issuing notification in the Official Gazette. However, such order should not be contrary to the provisions of this Act. Provided that no such order shall be issued after the expiry of two years from the date of commencement of the Act. Thus now the practicality of this section has ended. (section 29)
3, the legality of the proceedings not affected – The proceedings of the District Forum, State Commission or National Commission shall not become invalid merely on the ground that the office of any member therein is vacant or there has been any defect in its constitution. (Section 28A) ,, 4, Power to make rules – The Central Government and the State Government have the power to make rules for carrying out the provisions of this Act. (section 30)
5, Laying of rules in Parliament or Legislative Assembly – Rules made by the Central Government will be presented in both the houses of Parliament and the rules made by the State Government will be presented in the State Legislative Assembly. (section 31)