Basis of development of the term ‘Consumer’
Inspite of the plenitude of law, to check the supply of inferior quality of
goods, rate of profit incurred by the sellers and industry and to ensure to take
care of the customers couldn’t be achieved. During the 80’s the situation was
quite complicated as to it was the period when demand was exponentially greater
than supply as a result the consumers were neglected. It was the period of
seller’s market comparatively an opposite scenario of West and Japan as there
was lack of marketing as it was the consumer that kept coming to the seller. In
India consumers were left with no choice as they had to buy what was offered and
alternative were available even if the price was high compared to quality which
was not the situation in other free countries. It was majorly due to India being
an infant democracy at the time.
In India the due to the imbalance in the demand and supply in the market, led to
a situation where there was rarely a scope to pay attention to the
buyer(customer) even when it was a matter of rendering a paid service or
regarding repair and replacement for a faulty purchase. These mishaps of the
situation led the buyer (customer) feeling helpless as to them seeking aid from
law seemed like a huge load on money, time and more complexities. This human
suffering led to the awakening of the government which finally enacted and
enforced Consumer Protection Act (CPA),1986.
Purpose and Principle
The purpose of bringing CPA,1986 was to ensure to pay attention to the ignored
consumers, provide protection and to solve disputes that takes place. The
principle of Consumer Protection Act is: • provide protection to consumers not
only of goods but also services that was supposed to be rendered; • to establish
a suitable authority that will engage in settling disputes.
Consumer in light of Case Laws
In Anant Raj Agencies v. TELCO
, I (1996) CPJ 268 (DELHI) , the company
purchased a car that was used privately by the director. The car stopped working
as it had serious defects. The complainant claimed a replacement or refund for
the car. It was held that though the car was purchased by a company but it
wasn’t used for commercial purpose rather was privately used by the director.
Thus, the complainant was a consumer and the complaint was held admissible under
Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
In Union of India v. Mrs. S. Prakash
, it has been held that subscriber of
a telephone is a consumer as rental charges paid to the Central Government as
the consideration for the services provided by Tele-communication Department.
Hence, the Consumer Forum has full authority to admit complaint on this matter.
Vikas Verkhedkar v. Narmada Electronics (P) Ltd
., the complainant was
employee of Narmada Electronics (P) Ltd. The employee was concerned with a Group
Insurance Scheme of the respondent. The complainant met with an accident and
lodged a complaint that he was not paid in full and therefore, claimed for the
amount recovery. It was held that complainant was beneficiary and was a Consumer
under Sec. 2(d) of CPA and the complaint is admissible.
Harjot Ahluwalia v. Spring Meadows Hospital
, the complainant, that is,
the parents were Consumer as well as the minor son because the minor suffered
brain damage due to negligence of hospital, as being beneficiary of the
services. The parents were too held to be Consumer since they have hired the
services as per Sec 2(d) of CPA and can claim compensation for the damage caused
to their son due to medical negligence.
Case Law defining ‘not Consumer’
Sterling Computer Ltd. v P.R. Kutty,
the complainant purchased a computer
that was majorly used for commercial purpose. However, it was defective. The
National Commission held that the complainant can’t claim for damages as he is
not a consumer since he purchased for commercial purpose.
UCO Bank v. S.C. Mohanaty , held that loan applicant is not a consumer and if
loan isn’t sanctioned by the bank, the applicant can’t file the complaint as a
Recent Amendment in the concept of Consumer
On 15th July, 2020 the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public
distribution notified to pass the Consumer Protection Bill,2019 to replace the
long-existing Consumer Protection Act,1986. Majority provisions came into action
on 20th July,2020. According to latest amendment, the foremost change was
brought in the definition of Consumer. It defines Consumer as “a person who buys
any goods or hires any service for valuable consideration”. ‘The definition
excludes any person who obtains the goods for resale or commercial purpose’.
Relevance and Scope of term Consumer
Market manipulations and unfair trade practices have been received by the
consumers from time immemorial. The current amendment deals with every issue
that a consumer might face. This is probably a red signal to conman indulging in
market practices that are unfair. CPA,2019 has shifted the load of
accountability and care upon the sellers, manufacturers and service providers
thereby assuring more power on the end of consumer. The act now has ensured a
stringent law to protect the consumer from the neglect and low efficient service
by the service provider or manufacturer. Thus, the consumer plays an integral
party in shaping the economy as they consume goods and services directly or
indirectly to maximise satisfaction and utility.
- Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
- URL: https://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/in/in076en.pdf
- Choudhary, Akash, Consumer Protection Act: History, Definition, Forums
and Evaluation, Your Article Library. URL: https://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/consumer-behaviour/consumerprotection/consumer-protection-act-history-definition-forums-andevaluation/64207
- Consumer Protection Act, 2020 Notification
- Anant Raj Agencies v. TELCO, I (1996) CPJ 268 (DELHI)
- Union of India v. Mrs. S. Prakash; I (1991) CPR 307
- Vikas Verkhedkar v. Narmada Electronics (P) Ltd.; II (1996) CPJ 469
- Harjot Ahluwalia v. Spring Meadows Hospital; II (1997) CPJ 98 (N.C.)
- Sterling Computer Ltd. v P.R. Kutty; I (1996) CPJ 118 (N.C.)
- UCO Bank v. S.C. Mohanaty; (1996) CPJ 259