Consumer Protection Laws in India
In India, the consumers are protected by the Consumer Protection Act which was passed in the year 1986 and was amended in 2002. A consumer is a person who buys or purchases goods. Or in simple terms, a consumer is someone who buys services. And act comes into existence to protect the rights of the consumer. For example, if he buys a good which is defective or service is given to him are deficient, all-round protection to consumers and effective safeguards against different types of exploitation such as defective goods, deficient services, and unfair trade practices.
In the case of The Chairman, Thiruvalluvar vs The Consumer Protection Council, the consumer council was explained also what is the complaint. In order to appreciate the principal contention relating to the jurisdiction of the National Commission, it is necessary to look to the relevant provisions of the 1986 Act. This law was enacted to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes etc. Section 2 contains the dictionary of the said Act. Section 2(c) defines a complaint to mean any allegation made in writing by a consumer complaining that as a result of any unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice adopted by any trader he had suffered loss or damage or the goods bought by him or agreed to be bought by him were defective or the services hired or availed of or agreed to be hired or availed of by him were deficient in any respect or that a trader was guilty of charging a price in excess of the fixed price or that displayed on the goods or packet containing such goods Section 2(d) defines a consumer.
The consumer dispute redressal agencies came into the picture because of the right to seek redressal which is one of the tar rights given to the consumer. This means the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers. It also includes the right to fair settlement of the genuine grievances of the consumer. Consumers must make a complaint about their genuine grievances. Many times their complaint may be of small value but its impact on society as a whole may be very large. They can also take the help of consumer organizations in seeking redressal of their grievances. There is the district forum, the state commission and national commission were consumers can go to seek the redressal. The district forum consists of a president and two other members. The president can be a retired or working judge of District Court. They are appointed by the state government. The complaints about goods or services worth Rs 20 lakhs or less can be filed in this agency. State Commission consists of a president and two other members. The president must be a retired or working judge of the high court. They all are appointed by the state government. The complaints about the goods worth more than Rs 20 lakhs and less than Rs 1 crore can be filed in State Commission. National Commission The national commission consists of a president and four members one of whom shall be a woman. They are appointed by Central Government. The complaint can be filed in the National Commission if the value of goods exceeds Rs 1 crore.
While talking about simple buying and selling we need to have an idea about e-commerce to which is governed by this act. E-commerce is a commercial transaction done online. E-Commerce or Electronic Commerce means buying and selling goods, products, or services over the internet. E-commerce is also known as electronic commerce or internet commerce. These services provided online over the internet network. Transaction of money, funds, and data are also considered as E-commerce. These business transactions can be done in four ways: Business to Business (B2B), Business to Customer (B2C), Customer to Customer (C2C), Customer to Business (C2B). The standard definition of E-commerce is a commercial transaction which is happened over the internet. Online stores like Amazon, Flipkart, Shopify, Myntra, eBay, Quikr, Olx are examples of E-commerce websites. The emergence of the global supply chain, a rise of global trade, and rapid development of e-commerce have led to a new delivery system for goods and services and also provided new options and opportunities for consumers. Equally, it has rendered the consumers open to new forms of unfair trade and unethical business practices. Misleading advertisements, telemarketing, multi-level marketing, direct selling, and e-commerce have created new challenges to consumer protection that will require appropriate redressal to prevent consumer detriment. It is, therefore commendable that the Government has embarked on modernizing the legislation on consumer protection thus keeping pace with the changes in the market to ensure fair, equitable, and consistent outcomes for consumers. There is a need to protect the consumer for the unfair practices there might be on the e-commerce website. And in 2017 there was a need for the bill to be passed on it. And it will be soon passed. As there is a need for it.
In the case of Spicejet Ltd. vs Ranju Aery, In the past one and a half-decade, E-commerce has emerged as a major source of business. Almost all articles of use can be bought and services available online through the internet. There is no standard definition for the term E-commerce, as such, it is used to indicate a mode of conducting business through electronic means, distinct from the conventional physical means. In the above process, in a single transaction, two or more than two parties may be involved. In the course of life, disputes are bound to occur in such business activities. In case of sale and purchase through the internet, the question of territorial jurisdiction gets complex, mainly because the process is borderless. E-commerce contracts are conceptually similar to traditional commercial contracts. Vendors offer their products, prices, terms, and conditions to the buyers. The buyers after considering the options negotiate the prices, terms & conditions and then place orders and make the payment. With the growth of E-commerce and commercial activities over the internet, it has become possible for conducting business across the world without actual physical presence at every place. There is the widespread usage of plastic money i.e. credit and debit cards, which has facilitated those operations. At times, in such cases, the consumer may get a raw deal, as internet dealings are done with unknown parties, operating far away from different places. When the Act was enacted in the year, E-commerce virtually was not in practice. At present, it is a digital era, in which large numbers of transactions are being conducted online through the internet.
In conclusion, consumer protection act is very important in theses day and age as the services are growing and there are high chances of rights of the consumer to get violated. And there is redressal for the people to go to. Also, e-commerce is developing very well, and there is a need for time to bring the e-commerce bill into existence as so as possible.
 1995 AIR 1384, 1995 SCC (2) 479
Author Details: Priyanka Mane
The views of the author are personal only. (if any)