Have you ever thought about your rights as a consumer while shopping?
Our everyday life revolves around buying goods that are necessary to lead a comfortable and care-free life. When we buy these things and consume them, we become ‘Consumers’, but are we receiving our rights as a consumer?
During the ancient period, consumer rights were enlisted in various books like Kautilya’s ‘Arthashastra’, for laws regarding weights and measures and ‘Yajnavalkya-Samhita’ to protect consumers from malpractices. Coming to modern era, the first consumer organization was created in Denmark in 1947. In Great Britain, 1955, the Government created ‘Consumer Council’ to help consumers solve issues regarding consumption of products .The consumer rights become more strong with the Single European Act (SEA),the first major revision of the 1957 Treaty of Rome by solidifying the role of the Economic and Social Committee responsible for protecting consumers from cheating.
With the advent of the British rule, different English legislations were introduced in India also to protect the interest of the common people. After the independence, many new acts were introduced for consumer protection. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) enacted in 1860 contains laws that deal with “offence relating to weights and measures” under Chapter XIII .Sec. 272 and 273 enlists punishment for the offence of adulteration of food or drink. The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 played a great role in the regulation of import, manufacture, distribution and sale of adulterated or misleading drugs and cosmetics. During 1954, the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act came into effect to curb the evils of adulteration with various harmful and toxic elements in the commodities. Furthermore the following legislations were enacted and are currently applicable that governs the consumer laws and rights in India:
- The Drugs (Control) Act, 1950
- The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
- The Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
- The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969.
- The Bureau of Indian Standard Act, 1986.
- The Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
With the change in time, people’s view on shopping has also changed. If the product is endorsed by a celebrity we don’t seek a further opinion. Due to the increasing popularity of celebrities among the young generation, the adverting strategies have also changed by getting a top celebrity to endorse their product whether the product is consumable or not. Due to this, a new bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in August 2015 that has been considered by the parliamentary standing committee on food, consumer affairs and public distribution. The committee has suggested the including of celebrities as responsible for their endorsements. The new Consumer Protection Bill has been sent to Cabinet for approval in 2017.It includes setting up an executive agency to protect consumers from unfair trade practices, to regulate e-commerce companies and protect consumers’ data. The endorsers and brand ambassadors are also responsible in case of misleading ads of products. The new bill would help consumers to file complaints even using electronic media. For false complaints, the penalty will be increased from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000.
For more details about the bill, you can check out the links below:
Many people do not know about the prevailing consumer laws and sellers take advantage of this to exploit the customers. So here on be more aware of your own rights, fight for it and Happy Shopping!!!
– Krishna P