The Supreme Court has said that railway authorities are liable to pay compensation for delay and late arrival of trains, unless there is evidence explaining the delay, and it is proved that the delay was beyond their control and/or there was some justification for the delay. In this context, let us look at how the law protects consumer rights in India.
Which Indian law protects consumers?
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, protects consumer interests of consumers and establishes authorities for effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes.
Who is a consumer?
A consumer is any person who buys goods and services, as well as anyone who uses them. For instance, a person who watches a movie after buying a movie ticket is a consumer and similarly, a person who uses a gift voucher gifted from someone else is also a consumer. Consumers have a right to file a complaint for any of the services or goods used by them.
Unfair trade practices
Consumers can complain against unfair trade practices such as false statements about the goods’ standard, quality and quantity, the marketing of used/second-hand goods as new goods, false claims about a warranty, or the warranty period being scientifically untested, etc. This now includes hidden costs for carry bags at stores.
Consumers can sue advertisers for making misleading claims in their advertisements. A misleading advertisement says untrue things about goods and services which can mislead the consumer into buying them, or deliberately conceal important information about the product (such as known side-effects) etc.
Consumers can complain against defective goods i.e., goods with any fault, imperfection or shortcoming in the quality, quantity, purity or standard required to be maintained by the seller. Some examples of defective goods are adulterated or imperfectly brewed beverages, malfunctioning machinery, misshapen artifacts, etc.
Consumers can complain against spurious goods i.e., goods which are falsely claimed to be genuine, or are fake or imitative of real, original goods. Spurious goods are often of inferior quality and infringe upon the trademarks and copyrights of legal owners of the original goods. Examples of spurious goods include medicines or cheap make-up products found in local markets. Spurious medicines are marketed under another drug’s name, or imitate/substitute another drug in a deceptive way.
Can consumers file legal complaints online for violation of consumer rights?
Yes, the Department of Consumer Affairs has launched a portal known as the Integrated Grievance Redress Mechanism (INGRAM) for bringing all stakeholders such as Consumers, Central and State Government Agencies, Private Companies, Regulators, Ombudsmen, etc. onto a single platform. Consumers can register their grievances online through this portal.
If you want to read more on how the law protects your consumer rights, check out our explainer on Consumer Rights.