The industrial revolution and the development in the international trade and commerce has led to the vast expansion of business and trade, as a result of which a variety of consumer goods have appeared in the market to cater to the needs of the consumers and a host of services have been made available to the consumers like insurance, transport, electricity, housing, entertainment, finance and banking. A well organised sector of manufacturers and traders with better knowledge of markets has come into existence, thereby affecting the relationship between the traders and the consumers making the principle of consumer sovereignty almost inapplicable. The advertisements of goods and services in television, newspapers and magazines influence the demand for the same by the consumers though there may be manufacturing defects or imperfections or short comings in the quality, quantity and the purity of the goods or there may be deficiency in the services rendered. In addition, the production of the same item by many firms has led the consumers, who have little time to make a selection, to think before they can purchase the best. For the welfare of the public, the glut of adulterated and sub-standard articles in the market have to be checked. In spite of various provisions providing protection to the consumer and providing for stringent action against adulterated and sub-standard articles in the different enactments like Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the Indian Contract Act, 1872, the Sale of Goods Act, 1930, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 and the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, very little could be achieved in the field of Consumer Protection. Though the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 arid the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 have provided relief to the consumers yet it became necessary to protect the consumers from the exploitation and to save them from adulterated and sub-standard goods and services and to safe guard the interests of the consumers.
In order to provide for better protection of the interests of the consumer the Consumer Protection Bill, 1986 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 5th December, 1986.
STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
The Consumer Protection Bill, 1986 seeks to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and for the purpose, to make provision for the establishment of Consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumer disputes and for matter connected therewith.
2. It seeks, inter alia, to promote and protect the rights of consumers such as-
(a) the right to be protected against marketing of goods which are hazardous to life and property;
(b) the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;
(c) the right to be assured, wherever possible, access to an authority of goods at competitive prices;
(d) the right to be heard and to be assured that consumers interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;
(e) the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
(f) right to consumer education.
3. These objects are sought to be promoted and protected by the Consumer Protection Council to be established at the Central and State level.
4. To provide speedy and simple redressal to consumer disputes, a quasi-judicial machinery is sought to be setup at the district, State and Central levels. These quasi-judicial bodies will observe the principles of natural justice and have been empowered to give relief of a specific nature and to award, wherever appropriate, compensation to consumers. Penalties for noncompliance of the orders given by the quasi-judicial bodies have also been provided.
5. The Bill seeks to achieve the above objects.
ACT 68 OF 1986
The Consumer Protection Bill, 1986 was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and it received the assent of the President on 24th December, 1986. It came on the Statutes Book as THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986 (68 of 1986).
LIST OF AMENDING ACTS
1. The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 1991 (34 of 1991) (w.r.e.f. 15-6-1991).
2. The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 1993 (50 of 1993) (w.r.e.f. 18-6-1993).
3. The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002 (62 of 2002) (w.r.e.f. 15-3-2003).