LPPYF Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship is an Online National Summer School Program, a Two-Month Online Immersive Legal Awareness & Action Research Certificate Training Course and Internship Program, from June-August 2023 by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute. An informative and interactive panel discussion on “Consumer Rights” was held by Adv Dr Shalu Nigam, Visiting Senior Fellow IMPRI; Advocate, Author, and Researcher, Gender and Human Rights.
Advocate Dr Shalu Nigam, commenced the discussion by discussing the importance of protecting the consumer from unfair trade practices and the clutches of fraud producers and sellers. The most common ways of exploiting the consumer are adulteration, artificial scarcity, false weight, duplicate goods, and misleading ads.
Who is a consumer?
A consumer is an individual or group of individuals who buy or purchase goods and hire services for their personal use in exchange for consideration and not for manufacturing resale or commercial use. There are different categories of consumers: commercial, inferior goods and discretionary spending consumers Commercial consumers buy goods in large quantities depending on their needs or desires. Inferior goods consumers usually have low incomes and can afford low-budget goods. Discretionary spending consumers purchase luxury goods in abundance- vehicles, and electronic gadgets.
Consumer activism is a process by which activists seek to influence how goods or services are produced or delivered in order to make the production process safer, ethical, and environmentally friendly, and to make the products themselves safer and of better quality, or available to consumers.
The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 to safeguard Consumer Rights
The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was enacted to safeguard buyers of goods and services against unfair practices in the market. The law provides the steps to protect consumers from corrupt and unscrupulous malpractices by sellers, manufacturers, and service providers. The main objective of the act is to protect the interests of the consumers and to establish a mechanism for the settlement of consumer disputes, along with promoting consumer education in order to educate the consumers about their rights, and responsibilities.
The Act was enacted to deal with matters relating to violation of consumer’s rights, unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements, and all those circumstances which are prejudicial to the consumer’s rights. The intention was to include provisions for e-consumers due to the development of technology, buying and selling of goods and services online have considerably increased during the last few years. The Act seeks to provide better protection of the rights and interests of the consumers by establishing Consumer Protection Councils to settle disputes in case any dispute arises.
Unfair Trade Practices and Penalties
Unfair trade practices include manufacturing spurious goods or providing defective services, not issuing cash memos or bills for the goods purchased or services rendered, refusing to take back or withdraw the goods or services not refunding the consideration taken for the purchase of the goods or services, or disclosing the personal information of the consumer.
Some of the offences and penalties listed under the Act are punishment for false and misleading advertisements for a term of up to two years and a fine of ten lakh rupees, punishment for manufacturing, selling, and distributing products containing adulterants if the product containing adulterant causes injury amounting to grievous hurt the term for imprisonment to be seven years and fine five lakh rupees, and a few others
Dr Shalu concluded the session by giving examples of popular giant global revenues such as Exxon/Mobile, Pfizer, Citigroup, General Motors, Lockheed/Martin, Proctor & Gamble, United Health Care, Comcast/NBC Universal, and Apple which aren’t regulated by any public global government that would hold them accountable or monitor their practices and ethics.
These entities have a clear and obsessive unity of purpose- generating revenue and profit for those in powerful positions, and shareholdThe money is often also used to bribe lawyers and politicians to take down laws and anything that might slow the pace of hoarding wealth.
Shreya Mann is a Research Intern at IMPRI.
Youtube Video of Inaugural session for Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship Programme: https://youtu.be/fT0XLKGJ6LY
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