The Consumer Protection Act, 1986
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (COPRA) is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted in 1986 to protect the interests of consumers in India. It makes for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumer’s toy and for matters connected there with it also. The act was passed in Assembly in October 1986 and came into force on 24 December 1986. This statue was made before this act.”
Significance of the statue
This statue is regarded as the ‘Magna Carta’ in the field of consumer protection for checking unfair trade practices, ‘defects in goods’ and ‘deficiencies in services’ as far as India is concerned. It has led to the establishment of a widespread network of consumer forums and appellate courts all over India. It has significantly impacted how businesses approach consumer complaints and has empowered consumers to a great extent.
Consumer Protection Council
Consumer Protection Councils are established at the national, state and district level to increase consumer awareness.
- District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF): Also known as the “District Forum” established by the State Government in each district of the State. The State Government may establish more than one District Forum in a district. It is a district level court that deals with cases valuing up to 2 million (US$29,000).
2 State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC): Also known as the “State Commission” established by the State Government in the State. It is a state level court that takes up cases valuing less than 10 million(US$140,000)
- National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Established by the Central Government. It deals with matters of more than 10 million.
Objectives of Consumer Protection Act
Objectives of Central Council
The objectives of the Central Council are to promote and to protect the rights of the consumers such as:-
- The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property. 2. The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices; 3. The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices;
- The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interest will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;
- The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers
- The right to consumer education.
Jurisdiction/Three Tier System of Council Courts
Jurisdiction of District Forum
- Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the District Forum shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and the compensation, if any, claimed does not exceed rupees twenty lakhs.
- A complaint shall be instituted in a District Forum within the local limits of whose jurisdiction:-
- the opposite party or each of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or has a branch office or personally works for gain, or
- any of the opposite parties, where there are more than one, at the time of the institution of the complaint, actually and voluntarily resides, or carries on business or has a branch office, or personally works for gain, provided that in such case either the permission of the District Forum is given, or the opposite parties who do not reside, or carry on business or have a branch office, or personally work for gain, as the case may be, acquiesce in such institution; or
- The cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.
Consumer courts do not have jurisdiction over matters where services or goods were bought for a commercial purpose.
Jurisdiction of State Commission
Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the State Commission shall have jurisdiction:-
- To entertain
- complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees twenty lakhs but does not exceed rupees one crore (R10 million); and
- appeals against the orders of any District Forum within the State;
- To call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute
Jurisdiction of National Commission
- To entertain-
- complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds rupees one crore; and
- appeals against the orders of any State Commission; and
- To call for the records and pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has been decided by any State Commission. However, the Supreme Court of India has held that the jurisdiction of National Commission under Revision Jurisdiction is very limited and can only be exercised when State Commission exceeds its jurisdiction, fails to exercise its jurisdiction or there is material illegality in the order passed by State Commission.
Salient Features of Consumer Protection Act
Salient features of consumer protection act are as follows:
Coverage of Items:
This Act is applicable on all the products and services, until or unless any product or service is especially debarred out of the scope of this Act by the Central Government.
Coverage of Sectors:
This Act is applicable to all the areas whether private, public or cooperative.
Compensatory Nature of Provisions:
Many Acts have been passed for the help of consumers. Consumers enjoy the benefits of these Acts but if a consumer wishes the Consumer Protection Act can provide extra help. As a result the nature of provisions of this Act is compensating for the loss or providing extra help. Consumer is totally free to enjoy the benefits provided in the Act.
Group of Consumer’s Rights:
This Act provides many rights to consumers. These rights are related to safety, information, choice, representation, redressal, education etc.
This Act provides safety to consumers regarding defective products, dissatisfactory services and unfair trade practices. So under the purview of this Act there is a provision to ban all those activities which can cause a risk for consumer.
Three-tier Grievances Redressal Machinery:
Consumer courts have been established so that the consumers can enjoy their rights. This Act presents Three- tier Grievances Redressal Machinery:
- At District Level-District Forum
- At State Level -State Commission
- At National Level – National Commission.
Time Bound Redressal:
A main feature of the Act is that under this, the cases are decided in a limited time of period.
Consumer Protection Council:
To favour consumer protection and to encourage consumer’s awareness there is a provision in this Act to establish Consumer Protection Councils.
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