On beginning to dwell into a discussion regarding technological advancements
in consumer rights, it is pertinent to understand the basics of consumer rights.
When we refer to the word consumer
, in a layman's language, we simply
understand it to be a person who is at the receiving end of consumption of goods
or services. Any person who buys a certain thing for purposes of resale, is not
a consumer because he is furthering such a purchase with a commercial intent.
When we look at consumers from the perspective of businesses and service
providers, the consumers seem to be the primary purpose behind the establishment
of any enterprise. One creates a product or service majorly with a view to
provide it further to a consuming resource.
Now that we have understood the importance of consumers from a layman's
perspective, it is essential to open the doors towards legal understanding of
the position of consumers. The Ides of March (15th of March) every year is
observed as National Consumers' Day in India. This day has a historic importance
as it was on this day in 1962, that the Bill for Consumer Rights was moved in
the US Congress. In the year 1985, the United Nations laid down and adopted
certain guidelines which would make sure that the consumers were protected and
that the distribution of goods and services was done in a regulated manner.
In India, the legal framework for consumer protection was adopted in the form of
Consumer Protection Act in 1956. This was one law which was recognised as the
'poor man's legislation'. This brought out a scenario when the concept of
became a mere idea of caution and not principle. Prior to the
enactment of the Consumer Protection Act, it was the Sale of Goods Act which
used to govern the rights of consumers and protect them against exploitation.
However, then the terms 'buyer' and 'seller' were taken as reference.
In terms of E-Commerce, the Consumer Protection (E- Commerce) Rules, 2020
("Act") have been notified by The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public
Distribution (Ministry) on July 23, 2020, under the Consumer Protection Act,
2019 ("Act"), with an intent to prevent unfair trade practices in e-commerce and
to protect the interest of the consumers and to ensure that there is
transparency in the e-commerce platforms and also to further strengthen the
regulations that govern the same.
With the development of e-commerce and technology, several electronic platforms
are made available to the consumers so as to help them in filing a complaint. A
Nodal Officer is appointed for each e-commerce platform in order to check that
the platform abides by the rules notified by the Government.
The objective of laws concerning consumer protection is not merely to protect
and preserve the rights; they also aim towards providing a market with fair
trade practices. This will also help several honest businesses to grow and
prevent fraudulent businesses from entering or staying in the market. This is
even more important today than ever because of the advent of technologies and
convenient means of establishing businesses.
With an extensive platform for establishing businesses, there are even more
chances of consumers getting exploited. The impact of the new technological
advancements and the massive convergence of e-commerce transactions, have caught
the attention of individual consumers, business enterprises, governments and
international organizations not as only facilitating the growth of business
endeavour but also posing a variety of challenges and confronts to various
segments of social and individual interests like data protection, consumer
protection, privacy violations etc.
The adequate and efficient regulatory mechanisms and legal concepts to attend to
the need of consumer protection in e-commerce will give protection to globally
recognized consumer protection mandates in electronically equipped commercial
According to the Consumer Protection Act, every consumer is entitled to have
the following rights:
- Right to Safety
- Right to Information
- Right to Choose
- Right to be Heard
- Right to Seek Redressal and
- Right to Consumer Education
Although Consumer Law is not an unknown area to us, it was necessary to pick up
this topic for an understanding because this is an area where Consumerism meets
Technology. When we focus on the threats towards the rights of the consumers in
the cyberspace, it is essential to have an inclusion of the Information
Technology Act as well.
The Consumer Protection Act takes care of the procedures to preserve the rights
of the consumers, but the massive control in order to prevent an abusive
environment lies with the Information Technology Act when it comes to
We already have the Information Technology Act in place so as to legally bind
the cyberspace. However, the problem is that there is no specific provision in
the Act which specifically focuses upon the protection of rights of the
consumers. The IT Act is limited and focused on encouraging the growth of
e-commerce nevertheless, it fails to pursue and protect the basic preconditions
for such growth that is building trader and consumer confidence.
Consumers require security in cyberspace in order to prevent being defrauded
with duplicate products, transactions and non-responding helplines. Major
complaints are made on the Government -assigned toll free number with regards to
lack of response from the seller after a payment has been made. Hence, it is
necessary to find and establish a link between Consumer Protection Act and the
Information Technology Act to give a legal framework to the already existing
remedies regarding protection of rights of the consumers.
Written By: Dr Farrukh Khan
- Dr. Ravi Kumar Gupta, Ishwar Mittal, Dr. Anita Gupta, "Measures for
Consumer Protection in India and Consumerism", RMS Journal of Management and
IT, Vol.5 [June,2011
- Rajiv Khare and Gargi Rajvanshi, 'E-Commerce and Consumer Protection: A
Critical Analysis of Legal Regulations', available at < https://clap.nls.ac.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/E-COMMERCE-AND-CONSUMER-PROTECTION-A-CRITICAL-ANALYSIS-OF-LEGAL-REGULATIONS.pdf>
is an Advocate and Managing Partner of Law
Firm- Diwan Advocates