About And History

An individual is a consumer right from the time he is formed in his mother’s womb to the day he breathes his last. Right from the stage of a foetus, an individual starts consuming whatever is provided to the mother. Therefore, protecting the rights of the customer is indeed very important and necessary. Keeping in this mind, a whole load of consumer goods are entered into the market partly due to the boom in the foreign trade and commerce sector and partly due to the Industrial Revolution. These goods have targeted various consumers in mind and have been launched to provide high-quality services to the customers in the field of insurance, banking, transport, entertainment, power, finance, electricity and the like.

Today, the manufacturers and traders are more aware of the market conditions and are coming up with newer products everyday forcing the consumers to make a choice quickly. This has indeed impacted the personal relationship between a manufacturer and consumer and the freedom of the consumer has gone for a toss. Goods are being advertised heavily in print media like newspaper and magazines, televisions, hoardings etc. and these advertisements lure the consumers in a big way. They queue up to buy products though there are some manufacturing defects in them and their quality is sub-standard. In addition to this, similar products launched by various competitors practically give no time for the consumers to make their choice before buying a particular company’s product.

These sub-standard and adulterated goods that are floating so freely in the market today need to be scrutinized properly, so that they can provide maximum benefit to the consumers. There were quite a few rules and regulations that aimed to have a check on the quality and service of goods produced in the market back in the 19th century like the Indian Penal Code (1860), Motor Vehicles Act (1988), Code of Civil Procedure (1908), Standard of Weights & Measures Act (1976), Sale of Goods Act (1930) and Indian Contract Act (1872). However, these were not enough to bring about any check in protecting the rights of the consumers. A couple of Acts that provided a decent level of protection for the consumers were the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (1954) and Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act (1969). Nevertheless, there was a dire need for a dedicated rule or act to control the adulteration practices in the market and to safeguard the consumers from the perils of using these sub-standard goods and services.
In order to take consumer protection to the next level, a series of serious discussions were held with International Organisations and Governments by the United Nations. A proposal for consumer protection guidelines was prepared by the UN Secretary General and sent for approval to the Economic and Social Counsel (UNESCO) during 1983. What followed this was another series of consultations and discussion among the various governing bodies about the scope, nature and control of these guidelines. After all these discussions, the UN General Assembly officially adopted these consumer protection guidelines during 9th April 1985 as per General Assembly Resolution No.39/248. Based on this resolution of the UN General Assembly, the Indian Parliament implemented the Consume r Protection Act during the subsequent year (1986).

The Bill adopted by the UN had a Statement of Objects and Reasons that was added on to the Act as well in India. The purpose of adopting the Bill was to ensure that the rights and interests of the consumers were protected in the best possible way and to set up Consumer councils and related organisations at various levels in order to settle consumer disputes quickly and efficiently. The explanation of the Statement of Objects and Reasons  (Para 4) that was added to the Bill states that a quasi-judicial council would be set up at the District, State and National levels to provide quick and clear resolution of disputes for consumers. These quasi-judicial councils will employ all natural judiciary methods to arrive at the resolution and if the cases so require, they can also authorise compensation for the consumers. When a party doesn’t comply with the rules of the quasi-judicial councils, then the latter can impose penalty on them.

The Preamble of the Act that passed in the Parliament, based on this resolution, also contains explanation amounting to the same degree as above. It explains that the Act was passed for bringing in better consumer protection measures by setting up councils at various levels for solving all consumer disputes and related matters.


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