Business Studies Part I
Business Studies Part II

Legal Protection to Consumers

The Indian legal framework consists of a number of regulations which provide protection to consumers. Some of these regulations are as under:

  • The Consumer Protection Act, 1986: The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 seeks to protect and promote the interests of consumers. The Act provides safeguards to consumers against defective goods, deficient services, unfair trade practices, and other forms of their exploitation. The Act provides for the setting up of a three-tier machinery, consisting of District Forums, State Commissions and the National Commission. It also provides for the formation of consumer protection councils in every District and State, and at the apex level.
  • The Contract Act, 1982: The Act lays down the conditions in which the promises made by parties to a contract will be binding on each other. The Act also specifies the remedies available to parties in case of breach of contract.
  • The Sale of Goods Act, 1930: The Act provides some safeguards and reliefs to the buyers of the goods in case the goods purchased do not comply with express or implied conditions or warranties.
  • The Essential Commodities Act, 1955: The Act aims at controlling production, supply and distribution of essential commodities, checking inflationary trend in their prices and ensuring equal distribution of essential commodities. The Act also provides for action against anti-social activities of profiteers, hoarders and black-marketers. Protection against malpractices and exploitation.
  • The Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1937: The Act prescribes grade standards for agricultural commodities and livestock products. The Act stipulates the conditions which govern the use of standards and lays down the procedure for grading, marking and packing of agricultural produce. The quality mark provided under the Act is known as AGMARK, an acronym for Agricultural Marketing.
  • The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954: The Act aims to check adulteration of food articles and ensure their purity so as to maintain public health.
  • The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976: The provisions of this Act are applicable in case of those goods which are sold or distributed by weight, measure or number. It provides protection to consumers against the malpractice of under-weight or under-measure.
  • The Trade Marks Act, 1999: This Act has repealed and replaced the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958. The Act prevents the use of fraudulent marks on products and thus, provides protection to the consumers against such products.
  • The Competition Act, 2002: This Act has repealed and replaced the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969. The Act provides protection to the consumers in case of practices adopted by business firms which hamper competition in the market.
  • The Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986: The Bureau of Indian Standards has been set up under the Act. The Bureau has two major activities: formulation of quality standards for goods and their certification through the BIS certification scheme. Manufacturers are permitted to use the ISI mark on their products only after ensuring that the goods conform to the prescribed quality standards. The Bureau has also setup a grievance cell where consumers can make a complaint about the quality of products carrying the ISI mark. The most important of these regulations is the Consumer Protection Act which provides for six consumer rights and helps consumers in getting their grievances redressed for any shortcoming in the goods purchased or services availed.