For the first time when desire to eat for survival must have been felt by a man, concept of consumer and consumed came into existence .Since then, give and take relationship between consumer, seller, producer and subjected consumed goods had been growing and developing in different forms. Its footprints are seen as back in Manusmriti and Koutilya’s Arth Shastra. In olden days, people used to keep their savings with Pandits in trust but later on they realized that their money was used for expanding the business by those Pandits. After this realization, public instead of keeping their money with pandits without charges, converted this tradition into loan system. Later on, it developed into full fledged Banking services. System of keeping jewellery under the custody of jewellers for safety of people later on developed in locker system. Not only that ,Koutilya ,the great Indian scholar introduced the law related to plea bargaining in India ages back which has been recently brought to our criminal law by amending the criminal[amendment]act 2005. Concept of plea bargaining was codified and consolidated in Arthasastra and it was prescribed that punishment other than death penality could be bargained by the accused by paying a redemption amount. Union cabinet of India on January 12, 2006 decided to issue an ordinance to amend certain sections of criminal procedure code 1973 to implement the provision which are considered people friendly and concept of pre-bargaining gets favour .While introducing the criminal amendment bill 2005 in Lok Sabha, the then Home Minister Shri Shivraj Patil acknowledged that concept of plea bargaining was in practice in India in ancient times also
Hence consumerism is not a new wave. In modern India, it roots back to the revolutionary steps taken by the housewives of Mumbai raising their voice against the quality of goods sold in the market in 1949 and constitution of a consumer protection council for the cause. In the meantime such move was noted at international level also when American President John Canady gave legal sanction to the rights of consumers protecting their interests against traders and manufacturers .Following these steps UNO also declared 15 March as world consumer day in 1962 and issued certain guidelines in 1985 to be followed by all the nations as hereunder
In the light of above guidelines Sri Mannu Bhai Shah established consumer education and research center in 1979. Though there were many acts already in operation but none of them was granting any direct relief to the consumers. They are all penal in nature and state takes action against those defaulting people. They in due course either pay the penality and continue following the same practices or manage to escape some or the other way. Consumer do not have direct grip on them. All the above situations motivated the Indian parliament to pass the consumer protection act 1986. Consumer protection act is the only act which compensates the consumers for the loss and mental agony they face. In one of the International consumer protection seminar held in India in 1977 it was voiced by all nations that consumer protection act 1986 is one of the most progressive and wonderful act Since than there had been number of amendments made in the act making it more useful and suitable to the consumers The first amendment was made in 1991 including services also as a subject of consumer protection It was further elaborated by amendment 1993 including number of service providers as subject to this act In the amendment 2002 more teeth were given to the act and first class magistrate powers are granted to the forums Situation today is that consumer courts are working parallel judiciary to civil courts, rather working fast in disposal of the cases. The important features of this law are that they are not to follow CPC in strict sense. There is a summery procedure for these forums to be followed. Appearance of advocates is not necessary. As per the provisions, case is to be disposed of within three to five months. Nominal fee is charged for filing the complaint which is not a court fee like civil court.
To protect their rights as a consumer is not a fundamental right, but it emanates from the right to life and personal liberty enshrined in Article 21 in the Constitution of India. As the right to “life” enshrined in Article 21 does not mean just as animal existence, but it incorporates all these things, which are required to live a meaningful life with dignity.
It is the right of a consumer to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods and it is the duty of the state to make such laws as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices otherwise the consumer as a citizen will lose out its money as well as health and that will lead to deprivation to his/her fundamental right to life.
Before 1986, there was no comprehensive law to protect a consumer. Although, several laws existed before 1986, like the Weights and Measures Act, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, Sale of Goods Act, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act etc., but in the absence of a certain consumer protection law with its own enforcement machinery, consumers throughout the state felt harassed and in fact without remedy.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 came into force on 24th December 1986 to fill this lacuna and to provide a redressal forum to the consumers. The objective of the Act was to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers. Although, the Act was enacted but no infrastructure facilities were created. In the landmark judgment of ‘Common Cause v/s Union of India, A.I.R. 1993 S.C. 1403, Hon’ble Apex Court directed each state to set up the requisite enforcement machinery, like Consumer Courts.
In the present era of globalization, due to liberalization of the economy, increasing competition, consumers are in greater need of protection and awareness, in order to become a responsible consumer. Consumer Protection Act was enacted with a view of providing, protecting, preserving, enforcing and giving speedy remedy to the consumer on violation of their rights.
Awareness about consumerism is as necessary as to be a consumer and use consumer goods. Each one of us is a consumer from cradle till the grave in every walk of life.We need to buy thosands of things every day for making our life comfortable and as such are consumers for our day to day needs.Further each one of us is a consumer against service providers such as for consuming electricity,insurance,medical facilities [doctors, hospitals, clinics,nursing homes,testing labs etc.]educational institutes and Universities,builders[DDA,GDA,PUDA and other private builders]Even job providers,beauty clinics ,servant providers also fall under the catagary of service providers against whom we may have complaints.Looking into the wide area of coverage of consumer protection law,it becomes necessary to know about out rights and remedy available to us in order to save us from the exploitation by the big business houses,traders and manufacturers.For this purpose,.about seven hundered consumer forums are functional and every state is having state consumer dispute redressal commission.National consumer redressal commissin is the apex court in the lines of consumer courts and appeal against the order of this commission lies with the supreme court only. They are running almost like a parallel judiciary to the civil courts.Much efforts were made by the influencial business groups to get this act declared unconstitutional as it is serving the purpose against their interests but it could servive as the Supreme court by its order declared it very much legal and valid law.It is the need of the day to know the strenth of this law which could sustain all jurks and storms and still serving consumers who are equiped with much less resources against big giants.