State the ways and means of consumer protection.
Introduction: -Even though we have the Consumer Protection Act and much other legislation passed by the government to protect the interest of consumers, consumer exploitation is not restricted. As a matter of fact, the judiciary system alone cannot restrict consumer exploitation. So many other ways and means are adopted for consumer protection. They are as follows:
- Lok Adalat: -It is one of the ways to resolve consumer problems. It can also be referred as People's Court. It is established by the government to settle disputes by compromise. It is held by state authority, District authority, Supreme Court Legal service Committee, and High Court Legal Service Committee or Taluka Legal service. It accepts cases pending in regular courts and can be settled by compromise. No court fees are charged. If a matter cannot be resolved by compromise. Some organizations hold Lok Adalat regularly e.g. Railways, electricity Boards, Telephone Exchanges, Insurance companies in public sector.
- Public Interest Litigation (Janahit Yachika): -Under this scheme any person can approach court of law in the interest of the public. It does not involve any individual interest. Its aim is to provide legal remedy to unrepresented groups of the society. One such group is the consumers.
- Redressal Forums: -Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies have been established by the State and Central Government. These agencies are District Forum, State Commission and National Commission. Supreme Court of India plays the role of the final court of appeal. The main objective of these forums is to protect the rights of the consumers.
- Awareness Programmes: -The Government of India has adopted various measures to increase the level of consumer awareness. The government makes use of journals, brochures, posters, etc. to convey the message of consumer protection, consumer courts, etc. the society in general observes World Consumer Rights Day on 15th March and National Consumer Day (of India) on 24th December.
- Consumer Organization: -Many consumer organizations are active throughout the world as well as in India. It was realized that just by talking about moral conduct or about code of fair business practices or even by making legal provisions (supplies), it is not possible to discipline all the members of the business community, instead, it is necessary to strengthen the consumer movement.
- Consumer Welfare Fund: -It is created by the Department of Revenues for providing financial assistance to voluntary consumer movement, particularly in rural areas. This money is used in consumer education, complaint handling, counseling, guidance, etc.
- Legislative Measures: -Indian government has passed many acts to protect consumers. Some of them are Drug Control Act 1950, prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954, Essential commodities Act 1955, The Standards of weights and Measures Act, etc. An important act was also the monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1969. This act could not protect the consumers in real sense. So a more elaborate legislation was passed i.e. the Consumer Protection Act in 1986. Under this act a consumer can file a suit against any manufacturer in case of loss due to the use of any product or services.