Business Studies Part I
Business Studies Part II

Role of Consumer Organisation and NGOs

In India, several consumer organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been set up for the protection and promotion of consumers’ interests. Nongovernmental organisations are nonprofit organisations which aim at Some Decided Cases Under the Consumer Protection Act, a consumer can file a complaint against the manufacturers or sellers for any defective good supplied to him or any deficient services rendered to him. In Jose Philip Mampillil vs. M/s Premier automobiles Ltd. & Anr, a diesel car purchased by the appellant (consumer) was found defective. The defects in the car were not removed by the defendants (manufacturer and dealer). The Commissioner appointed by the District Forum found a large number of defects in the car. Consequently, the District Forum directed repair of car free of cost and replacement of engine. The order was upheld by the State Commission except for the direction for replacement of engine. In the case of Sashikant Krishnaii Dole vs. Shikshan Prasarak Mandali, the National Commission held that failure to amount basic safeguards in the swimming pool amounts to deficiency in service. A school owned a swimming pool and offered swimming facilities to the public on payment of a fee. The school conducted winter and summer training camps to train boys in swimming and for this purpose engaged a coach. The plaintiffs enrolled their only son for learning swimming under the guidance of the coach. It was alleged that due to the negligence of the coach, the boy drowned and died. The school denied any responsibility on its part. The coach claimed that he had considerable experience in coaching young boys is swimming. When the deceased was found to have been drowned, the coach immediately took him out of the water and removed the water from his stomach and gave him artificial respiration and thereafter took him to a doctor. The doctor advised that the boy be taken to the nearest hospital where the boy died. The State Commission held the school and the coach deficient in rendering service to the deceased. On appeal, the order was upheld by the National Commission. Adapted from: promoting the welfare of people. They have a constitution of their own and are free from government interference. Consumer organisations and NGOs perform several functions for the protection and promotion of interest of consumers. These include:

  1. Educating the general public about consumer rights by organising training programmes, seminars and workshops. CERS Wins Case against Railways In a case filed by Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS), Ahmedabad, and a senior couple, the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Ahmedabad City, has held the Railways responsible for negligence and directed it to pay Rs. 2000 to the couple for its mental agony and Rs. 3000 towards cost. Mr. Man Mohan Singh and his wife Kamlesh had bought a railway journeycum-reservation ticket at Ahmedabad for travel from New Delhi to Kanpur Central by the Shatabdi Express on 2 December 2001. The details on the ticket, including the coach number, the date of journey, etc., were illegible. Hence, they were forced to buy another ticket for journey from New Delhi to Kanpur. They applied for a refund for the earlier ticket but, as the Forum noted, they had to suffer much for the purpose. In spite of the couple’s giving the Ahmedabad residential address for sending the refund, the Railways sent it to their Delhi address. They approached CERS for help. CERS filed a complaint against the Railways before the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Ahmedabad City, under Sections 2(1)(g) and 2(1)(o) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. CERS claimed that the two senior citizens had to face mental harassment due to the deficiency in service by the Railways. The Railways contended, among other things, that the Forum had no territorial jurisdiction after cancellation of the ticket, the couple were no more consumers in the eye of the law, the complaint was time-barred and the Railway Claim Tribunal was the proper forum to entertain the complaint about refund. The Forum, however, observed that the couple’s difficulties amounted to the Railways’ deficiency in service and ordered it to pay Rs. 2000 to the couple for the mental agony suffered by them and Rs. 3000 as cost. The Forum did not decide on the amount of refund, which it said, was “to be exclusively dealt with by the Railway Claim Tribunal”. Source:
  2. Publishing periodicals and other publications to impart knowledge about consumer problems, legal reporting, reliefs available and other matters of interest.
  3. Carrying out comparative testing of consumer products in accredited laboratories to test relative qualities of competing brands and publishing the test results for the benefit of consumers.
  4. Encouraging consumers to strongly protest and take an action against unscrupulous, exploitative and unfair trade practices of sellers.
  5. Providing legal assistance to consumers by way of providing aid, legal advice etc. in seeking legal remedy.
  6. Filing complaints in appropriate consumer courts on behalf of the consumers.
  7. Taking an initiative in filing cases in consumer courts in the interest of the general public, not for any individual.

Some of the important consumer organisations and NGOs engaged in protecting and promoting consumers’ interests include the following:

  • Consumer Coordination Council, Delhi
  • Common Cause, Delhi
  • Voluntary Organisation in Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE), Delhi
  • Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), Ahmedabad
  • Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Ahmedabad
  • Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI), Mumbai
  • Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, Mumbai
  • Karnataka Consumer Service Society, Bangalore
  • Consumers’ Association, Kolkata
  • Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), Jaipur.