The right to information about quality, potency, quantity, purity, price and standard of goods or services is termed as Consumer Rights. It is essential for each and every customer to be made aware of their rights. Despite the fact that India has strong and unambiguous laws protecting consumer rights, the situation of Indian consumers might be described as dire. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 is the most important of the several laws that have been enacted to protect consumer rights in India. Individuals, firms, Hindu undivided families, and companies all have the right to use their consumer rights for the purchase of products and services made by them, according to this law. It is critical that a consumer understands his or her basic rights, as well as the courts and procedures that follow when those rights are violated.
Consumer rights in India are summarised as follows:
- The right to be safeguarded from every form of dangerous goods and services
- The right to be fully informed about all goods and services’ performance and quality.
- The right to choose the goods and services you want.
- The right to be heard in all consumer-related decision-making processes.
- When consumer rights are violated, the right to seek redress is available.
- Complete consumer education is a legal right.
The Consumer Protection Act of 1986, as well as various other legislation such as the Weights, Standards, and Measures Act, can be drafted to ensure fair competition in the market and the free flow of accurate information from providers of products and services to those who consume them. The Indian government has recognised the plight of Indian consumers, and as a result, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has established the Department of Consumer Affairs as the nodal organisation for protecting consumer rights, resolving consumer grievances, and promoting standards governing goods and services in India.
A brief explanation of all the consumer rights are as follows-
Right to Safety
The consumer right is defined as the “right to be protected against marketing of goods and services that are dangerous to life and property,” according to the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. It applies to certain fields such as healthcare, medicines, and food processing; nevertheless, this right extends to any domain that has a significant impact on the consumer’s health or well-being, such as automobiles, housing, domestic appliances, travel, and so on.
Right to Information
The Customer Protection Act of 1986 defines the right to information as “the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price of goods or services, as the case may be, in order to safeguard the consumer against unfair commercial practises.” Consumers in India obtain information from two sources: advertising and word of mouth. While both of these sources are regarded unreliable, word of mouth is still widely used in India. As a result, Indian consumers rarely have exact and comprehensive information to determine a product’s genuine worth, safety, compatibility, or reliability. Hidden prices, lack of appropriateness, quality issues, and safety hazards are usually discovered only after the product has been purchased. On paper, the Indian government claims another right; this right should ideally ensure that all consumable products are labelled in a uniform manner, including the pricing, quantity, ingredients, and instructions for safe use.
Right to Choose
The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 defines Right to Choose as “the right to be assured, whenever practicable, of having access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices.” There is just one thing that is required to regulate the market space, and that is competition. The existence of cartels, oligopolies, and monopolies has been shown to be detrimental to consumerism. Natural resources, the liquor industry, telephones, airlines, and other industries are all under the influence of a mafia to some degree. Because Indian consumers come from a socialist heritage, they are genetically predisposed to tolerate monopolistic markets.
Right to be Heard
The right to be heard is defined under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 as “the right to be heard and to be assured that consumer interests will be properly considered at suitable forums.” This right empowers Indian consumers by allowing them to voice their complaints and concerns without fear of retaliation, and to raise their voices against products or companies, ensuring that their concerns are heard and addressed quickly.
Right to Redressal
According to the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the right to seek redress against unfair commercial practises, restrictive trade practises, or unethical exploitation of customers is referred to as the right to redress. In this aspect, the Indian government has been a little more successful. The Consumer Protection Act established consumer courts such as District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums at the district level, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions, and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions.
Right to Consumer Education
The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 establishes the right of every Indian citizen to receive education on consumer protection issues as well as about his or her own rights. The right ensures that consumers in the country have easy access to informational programmes and materials that will help them to make better purchase decisions than before. Consumer education can relate to both formal education provided through college and school curricula as well as consumer awareness initiatives conducted by both non-governmental and governmental organisations.