Due to mass production, new products are constantly introduced in the market. Consumers find it difficult to determine the uses for which they are fitted and to select them wisely because advertisement, attractive packaging, display and mass media are extensively used by manufacturers to push goods on consumers. Not all producers and sellers are honest. The desire for profit lead some manufacturers to cheat consumers by offering adulterated and poor quality products in the market. In short consumers in India are worst sufferers of the economic exploitations and unfair trade practices. It is therefore necessary for consumers to educate themselves about their rights and seek protection from exploitation with the help of government and voluntary organisations.
In India there are a number of laws enacted to protect consumer's interest directly. Some of the important laws are mentioned below.
The prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA)
In 1954 the Indian parliament enacted a law called' The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act' It came into force from 1st June 1995. The P.F.A lays down minimum standard requirements for all categories of food. Any food stuff that does not come up to the minimum standards specified by the PFA rules is considered adulterated.
The Agmark Act 1937
The 'Agmark' is a trade mark of quality levels of agricultural commodities set up by the Directorate of marketing and Inspection of the Government of India. 'Agmark' seal can be seen on food stuff such as edible oils, butter, ghee, eggs, cereals, pulses, oil seeds, legumes, etc. This helps the consumer in selecting foods and offers him protection with regard to quality.
This is a certification mark of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) which was earlier called as the Indian Standard Institution (I.S.I.). Indian standards cover food items such as vegetables, fruit and meat products, spices, and condiment, processed foods, cereal and soya products, candies, beverages, print paper, etc. For the consumers, certification marks ensures that the product is cheap, safe and pure.
Drugs and Cosmetics Act - 1940
This Act was passed to protect consumers from drugs and cosmetics of substandard quality by preventing them from being manufactured and marketed. It lays down that no person or firm can stock, sell or distribute drugs unless they have a proper license issued by the state government for the purpose. Under this law it is mandatory that every dealer must issue a cash memo for the drug sold to the consumer.
Essential Commodities Act, 1955
Under the provision of the Act, the central and state government have been empowered to regulate the production, supply, distribution, and processing essential commodities such as cattle fodder, coal, iron, steel, paper, cotton and woolen textile, petroleum, petroleum products, drugs, foods, raw jute and cotton. It provides punishment on any hoarder, black marketer and profiteer. The offenders can be imprisoned for 3 - 5 years.
The Standards of weights and measures Act 1976
The act provides for the
1. Establishment of an international system of units (metric) for weighing and measuring.
2. Formulation of specifications for weights, measures and equipments used for weighing and measuring.
3. Approval of models of equipment before they are manufactured.
Weights and measureb without seal or verification stamp are not genuine under any circumstances.
COPRA - 1986
The enactment of 'Consumer Protection Act' 1986 is a milestone in the consumer movement. This law gives a consumer the right to get compensation for any loss suffered in accordance with the negligence of the manufacturers.