In Pre Civilization period there is no Consumer as we see in modern times. There is no manufacturing - No services and no purchase system. Civilization creates multi Requirements of men. One person himself is not capable to fulfill all of his requirements, he needs help of other. He is now under compulsion to purchase Goods/Services. He do not get honest dealings every time. Here now Law comes to help consumer it gives certain rights to consumer. In case of violation of such laws it provides provisions to enforce those rights.
The moment a person comes into this world, he starts consuming. He needs Food Clothes, House and many more things and these needs keep taking one form or the other all along his life. Thus we all are consumers in the literal sense of the term. When we approach the market as a consumer, we expect value for money, i.e., right quality, right quantity, right prices, information about the mode of use, etc. But there may be instances where a consumer is harassed or cheated.
Earlier Position - Before the enactment of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 there are many other laws which are related to Consumer. Some of them are Indian Contract Act, Sale of Goods Act, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, etc. They protect consumer interests to some extent. But these laws require the consumer to initiate action by way of a civil suit involving lengthy legal process which is very expensive and time consuming.
The earlier principle of "Caveat Emptor" or "Let the buyer beware" which was prevalent has given way to the principle of "Consumer is King". The origins of this principle lie in the fact that in today's mass production economy where there is little contact between the producer and consumer, often sellers make exaggerated claims and advertisements which they do not intend to fulfill. This leaves the consumer in a difficult position with very few avenues for redressal. The onset on intense competition also made producers aware of the benefits of customer satisfaction and hence by and large, the principle of consumer is king" is now accepted.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted to provide a simpler and quicker access to redress of consumer grievances. The Act for the first time introduced the concept of consumer and conferred express additional rights on him. It is interesting to note that the Act doesnt seek to protect every consumer within the literal meaning of the term. The protection is meant for the person who fits in the definition of consumer given by the Act.
This Act has provided machinery whereby consumers can file their complaints which will be entertained by the Consumer Forums with special powers so that action can be taken against erring suppliers and the possible compensation may be awarded to consumer for the hardships he has undergone.
Consumer Protection Act, 1986 seeks to promote and protects the interest of consumers against deficiencies and defects in goods or services. It also seeks to secure the rights of a consumer against unfair or restrictive trade practices, which may be practiced by manufacturers and traders. This Act has provided machinery whereby consumers can file their complaints which will be entertained by the Consumer Forums with special powers so that action can be taken against erring suppliers and the possible compensation may be awarded to consumer for the hardships he has undergone.
The consumer under this law is not required to deposit huge court fees, which earlier used to deter consumers from approaching the Courts. The rigors of court procedures have been dispensed with and replaced with simple procedures as compared to the normal courts, which helps in quicker redressal of grievances. The provisions of the Act are compensatory in nature.
The Act applies to all goods and services unless specifically exempted by the Central Government. It covers all the sectors whether private, public or cooperative. The provisions of the Act are compensatory in nature. The provisions of this Act are in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.
The consumer himself need not necessarily file complaint. Any recognized consumers association can espouse his cause. Where a large of consumers has a similar complaint, one or more can file a complaint on behalf of all. Even the Central Government or State Government can act on his/their behalf.