Consumer Protection: Social Responsibility, Increasing Awareness, Consumer Satisfaction, Principle of Social Justice and Trusteeship

Get unlimited access to the best preparation resource for IAS/Mains/Optional Public-Administration: Get detailed illustrated notes covering entire syllabus: point-by-point for high retention.

Download PDF of This Page (Size: 199K)

The necessity of adopting measures to protect the interest of consumers arises mainly due to the helpless position of the consumers. There is no denying fact that the consumers have the basic right to be protected from the loss or injury caused on account of defective goods and deficiency of services. But they hardly use their rights due to lack of awareness, ignorance or lethargic attitude. However, in view of the prevailing malpractices and their vulnerability there to, it is necessary to provide them physical safety, protection of economic interests, access to information, satisfactory product standard, and statutory measures for redressal of their grievances. The other main arguments in favour of consumer protection are as follows:

Need For Consumer Protection

Need for Consumer Protection

Social Responsibility

The business must be guided by certain social and ethical norms. It is the moral responsibility of the business to serve the interest of consumers. Keeping in line with this principle, it is the duty of producers and traders to provide right quality and quantity of goods at fair prices to the consumers.

Increasing Awareness

The consumers are becoming more mature and conscious of their rights against the malpractices by the business. There are many consumer organisations and associations who are making efforts to build consumer awareness, taking up their cases at various levels and helping them to enforce their rights.

Consumer Satisfaction

Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi had once given a call to manufactures and traders to “treat your consumers as god”. Consumers’ satisfaction is the key to success of business. Hence, the businessmen should take every step to serve the interests of consumers by providing them quality goods and services at reasonable price.

Principle of Social Justice

Exploitation of consumers is against the directive principles of state policy as laid down in the Constitution of India. Keeping in line with this principle, it is expected from the manufacturers, traders and service providers to refrain from malpractices and take care of consumers’ interest.

Principle of Trusteeship

According to Gandhian philosophy, manufactures and producers are not the real owners of the business. Resources are supplied by the society. They are merely the trustees of the resources and, therefore, they should use such resources effectively for the benefit of the society, which includes the consumers.

Survival and Growth of Business

The business has to serve consumer interests for their own survival and growth. On account of globalisation and increased competition, any business organisation which indulges in malpractices or fails to provide improved services to their ultimate consumer shall find it difficult to continue. Hence, they must in their own long run interest, become consumer oriented.

Rights of Consumers

John F, Kennedy, the former USA President, in his message to consumer had given six rights to consumers. These rights are

Right Of Consumer

Right of Consumer

These rights had paved the way for organised consumer movement in the USA and later it spread all over the world. In India, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 has also provided for the same rights to consumers. Let us have a brief idea about these rights of consumers.

Right to Safety

It is the right of the consumers to be protected against goods and services which are hazardous to health or life. For example, defective vehicles could lead to serious accidents. The same is true of electrical appliances with sub-standard material. Only recently, there were mass protests and boycott of soft drinks due to presence of hazardous pesticides beyond permissible limits. Thus, right to safety is an important right available to the consumer which ensures that the manufacturers shall not produce and sell sub-standard and dangerous products.

Right to be Informed

The right to be informed is an important component of consumer protection. The consumer must be provided with adequate and accurate information about quality, quantity, purity, standard and the price of the goods and services. Now-a-days the manufacturers provide detailed information about the contents of the product, its quantity, date of manufacturing, date of expiry, maximum retail price, precautions to be taken, etc. on the label and package of the product. Such information helps the consumers in their buying decision and use of the product.

Right to Choose

The right to choose provides that the consumer must be assured, whenever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices. If the market has enough varieties of products at highly competitive prices, the buyers have an opportunity of wide selection.

Right to be Heard

The rights to safety, information and choice will be frivolous without the right to be heard. This right has three interpretations. Broadly speaking, this right means that consumers have a right to be consulted by Government and public bodies when decisions and policies are made affecting consumer interests.

Right to Seek Redressal

The consumers have been given the right of redressal of their grievances relating to the performance, grade, quality etc. of the goods and services. If required, the product must be repaired / replaced by the seller/ manufacturer. The Consumer Protection Act has duly provided for a fair settlement of genuine grievances of the consumers.

Right to Consumer Education

In this direction the consumer associations, educational institutions and the policy makers can play an important part. They are expected to impar information and knowledge about,

  • The relevant laws which are aimed at preventing unfair trade practices,

  • The ways and means which dishonest traders and producers may adopt to deceive the consumers,

  • Insistence on a bill or receipt at the time of purchase, and

  • The procedure to be followed by consumers while making complaints. Effective consumer education leads to an increased level of consumer awareness and help them to enforce their rights more effectively, and protect themselves against fraudulent, deceitful and grossly misleading advertisement, labelling, etc.

Developed by: