World Consumer Rights Day is observed annually on March 15 in over 120 countries across the globe. On this day in March 1962, former US President John K. Kennedy had declared the four basic consumer rights. Consumer International, a non-profit based in the UK, with the help of over 250 affiliated groups, organises awareness drives across on the world to mark the day.
In India, consumer rights were protected under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, before the act was replaced by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
What are consumer rights?
According to the Consumer Protection Act 2019, the definition of consumer rights is 'the right to have information about different aspects of a good or service such as its quality, quantity, potency, purity, price and standard.'
Who is a consumer?
As per the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, a person who buys any goods or avails a service is a consumer. The definition, however, does not include a person who buys a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purposes.
Consumer rights in India
In the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the lawmakers had defined six basic consumer rights:
Right to safety: Consumers are protected against marketing of goods and services that are hazardous to their life and property. It lays emphasis on the quality of goods and services.
Right to be informed: Consumers have right to be informed about quality, quantity, content, purity, regulatory standards and prices of goods and no such information should be intentionally hidden from them.
Right to choose: Whenever possible, consumers should be given access to a variety of goods and services at different prices.
Right to be heard: Consumer's interests should be heard and taken into account. They have the right to form organisations that will represent them in all related matters.
Right to seek redressal: Consumers have the right to seek redressal against unfair practices and exploitation.
Right to consumer education: Consumers have the right to acquire knowledge in order to become an informed consumer.
These rights form the bases of consumer protection in India. Additionally, the Consumer Protection Act 2019 had introduced five new consumer rights:
- Right to file a complaint from anywhere
- Right to seek compensation under product liability
- Right to protect consumers as a class
- Right to seek a hearing using video conferencing
- Right to know why a complaint was rejected