The Consumer Protection Act 1986 (COPRA)
Nowadays, the consumers’ grievances and dissatisfactions grow largely. Consumers themselves did not have any effective mechanism or institutional arrangement for the speedy redressal of their grievances. Lack of effective popular movement isolated the consumer and so his plight is increased. Sensing the pressure mounting from various consumer protection groups and consumers themselves, the Central Government enacted a comprehensive law called the Consumer Protection Act in 1986. This Act came into force with effect from 15.04.1987. This Act was further amended in 1993. The Act is referred in short as ‘COPRA’.
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 object of the act is to provide for the better protection of the interests of the consumer courts for the settlement of consumer’s disputes and all matters connected there with. The Consumer Protection Act is of great importance. It is the latest to be adopted. It is applicable to public sector, financial, and cooperative enterprises. Recently even medical services have been brought under its scope. The Act shall apply to all goods and services across board.
The Consumer Protection Act 1986 does not create rights or liabilities, but it has emerged as new forum for the settlement of disputes relating to the sale of goods or services. The loss claimed by the consumers must be a loss resulting from on some “deficiency of service” or “defect in the goods.” The Act provides for the setting up of a three tier-machinery, consisting of District Forums, State Commissions, and the National Commission. It also lays down rules for formation of consumer protection councils in every District and State and at the apex level.
The salient features of the Indian Consumers Protection Act, 1986 are listed below
i. Protecting consumers against products and services which are harmful to the health of consumers.
ii. Protecting consumers from the breach of contract by sellers /manufacturers.
iii. Ensuring consumers with supply of goods at fair quality.
iv. Safeguarding consumers against misleading and untrue messages communicated through advertisement.
v. Ensuring that consumers are charged fair price.
vi. Ensuring uninterrupted supply of goods.
vii. Ensuring the availability of goods in correct quantity and right size.
viii. Protecting the consumers against unfair trade practices of unscrupulous trader
xi. Protecting the consumers against pollution of various kinds
x. Protecting consumers against the evil effect of competition.
Consumer protection has a wide agenda. It not only purports to educate consumers about their rights and responsibilities, but also helps in getting their grievances redressed. It provides judicial machinery for protecting the interests of consumers to come together and organise themselves into consumer associations for protection and promotion of their interests. Consumer protection has a special significance for business too.
Following are the objectives of Consumer Protection act 1986
i. Protection of consumers against marketing of goods which are hazardous and dangerous to life and property of consumers.
ii. Providing correct and complete information about quality, quantity, purity, price and standard of goods purchased by consumers.
iii. Protecting consumers from unfair trade practices of traders.
iv. Empowering consumers to seek redressal against exploitation
v. Educating the consumer of their rights and duties
vi. Ensuring better standard of living for consumers by providing them with quality products at fair price.
vii. Putting in place right mechanism like councils and other authorities to enable the consumers to enforce their rights.