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FAQs on Consumer Law...

Q1. Who is a Consumer ?

The term consumer has been defined in Sec.2(1)(d) of the Act. Any person who buys any goods or avails any services for a consideration is a consumer. A person who uses such goods or avails of such services with the approval of purchaser is also a consumer. Mere promise to pay consideration is also sufficient. So the purchaser of goods with deferred payment can also be treated as consumer.

However, if a person purchases goods for resale or avails of services for commercial purpose is not a consumer.( In case Vijay Narayan Aggarwal vs Chowgule Industies Ltd, reported as 1993(2) CPJ 231, the National Commission has held that if person is carrying on business on a large scale and he purchases goods for earning profits, the purchase is for commercial purpose and he is not a consumer.)

But the use of goods and availing services by any person exclusively for the purpose of earning livelihood by means of self employment does not amount to commercial purpose

Q2. Is a Patient availing medical services of a Doctor or Hospital a consumer ?

Yes. A person availing medical services of a doctor or hospital is a consumer. However, a person getting such treatment without consideration and availing free services of hospital is not a consumer.

Q3. Whether a student is a consumer ?

Education as such does not come within the perview of the consumer protection act.

But under following situations a student is a consumer:-

« A candidate who pays fee to a university for appearing in examination is a consumer;
« A candidate applying for revaluation of examination paper is a consumer;
« Student of an educational institute is a consumer;
« A candidate applying for a degree certigicate is a consume

What are the rights of a consumer ?


The consumer has the following rights:-

« the right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;
« the right to be informed about the quality,quantity,potency,purity,standard and price of goods or services so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;
« the right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices;
« the right to be heard and to be assured that consumer's interests will receive due consideration at appropriate for a;
« the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers and
« the right to consumer education.
Q5. What is a consumer Dispute ?

Sec.2(1)(e) of the C.P.Act defines the term consumer dispute.

Consumer Dispute means a dispute where the person against whom a complaint has been made, denies or disputes the allegations contained in the complaint.

However, if after the complaint is made , there is no denial by the opposite party in respect of the allegations made therein, there can be no consumer dispute.


What is meant by the term ‘goods' ?


Under sect.2(1)(i) of the C.P.Act, the term goods means goods as defined in the Sale of Goods Act,1930.

Accordingly,the goods means every kind of moveable property other than actionable claims and money, and includes stock and share, growing crops,grass, and things attached to or forming part of the land which are agreed to be severed before sale or under the contract of sale.

Things like good will,copy right, trade mark,patent, gas, electricity, motor vehicles,ship etc. are also treated as goods.


What is meant by the term ‘service' ?


As per sct.2(1)(o) of the Act, the service means service of any description which may be made available to any potential user. It includes the services like banking, insurance, financing, transport, processing, supply of electicity, board or lodging or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement,or the purveying of news or other information.

However,it does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service. “Where there is relationship like that of master and servant, it is ‘contract of personal service' and is excluded from the perview of the Act.” It is so held in case ‘Indian Medical Association vs V.P.Shantha,1995 SCALE 273.

Q8. What is meant by Spurious goods and service ?
Ans As per sect.2(1)(oo) of the Act,spurious goods and services means such goods services which claimed to be genuine but they are actually not so.
Q9 What is unfair trade practice?

As per sect. 2(1)(r ) of the Act, “unfair trade practice” means any unfair or deceptive method or practice used for promoting sale or supply of goods or services at the deteriment of the consumers as an unfair trade practice.These include making of a statement which may falsely represent:-

« that the goods provided are of a particular standard, quality, quantity,grade, composition, style or model;
« that the services rendered are of a particular standard, quality or grade;
« that any goods are new which are basically rebuilt,secondhand, renovated, reconditioned or old goods;
« that the goods or services have a particular sponsership,approval or affiliation, performance, characteristics, accessories,uses or benefits;
« that any goods or services are useful for a particular purpose.

Following are also the unfair trade practices:

« giving of a warranty for any goods or services to public not supported by adequate or proper test;
« making a false promise to replace, maintain or repair an article or continue service until it has achieved a particular result;
« making of false claims regarding price of goods or services or
« falsely representing any facts disparaging the goods, services or trade of another person,
« making advertisements for sale or supply at a bargain price of goods or services but not actually intended to be offered at that price. “Bargain price” for this purpose, has been defined as the price that has been stated in any advertisement to be the bargain price, by reference the ordinary price or the price that a person may reasonably understand to be the bargain price in terms of the advertisement.

The other common unfair trade practices are:-

« offering of gifts or prizes with the intention of actually not providing them and covering them fully or partly by the amount charged in the transaction;
« conduct of contests, lotteries, games of chance or skill to promote sale, use of supply of the prduct or business interests;
« withholding final results or information about any gifts or prizes offered in connection with some transaction;
« sale or supply of goods complying with the prescribed standards with respect of content, composition, design,finishing or packaging;
« hoarding or destruction of goods or refusal to sell goods or provide services intended to raise their cost;
  manufacture or sale of spurious goods; and
  adopting deceptive practices in the provision of services.

In what form the fee is to be paid ?


The fee is to be paid in the form of crossed Demand Draft drawn on a nationalized bank or through a crossed Indian Postal Order in favour of the President of the District Forum, Registrar of the State Commission or the National Commission as the case may be, and that shall be payable at the respective place wher the district forum,the state commission or the national commission is situated.

Enforcement of orders of the Forum.


Does a complainant has to pay fee alongwith the complaint?

Ans Yes, the complaint has to be accompanied by a fee as specified in the table given under Rule 9A of the consumer protection Rules,1987.

Does a complainant need to engage a lawyer ?


No. It is not necessary to engage a lawyer. Regulation no.26 (4) of the Consumer Protection Regulations,2005, specifies that the consumer forum shall not insist upon the parties to engage advocates.

( Engaging an advocate only increases the chances of winning the case ).

Q13 Who can file a complaint ?

A complaint can be filed by :-

« a consumer; or
« any voluntary consumer association registered under the companies act,1956 or under any other law for the time being in force; or
« the central Govt. or any state Govt.; or
« one or more consumers, when there are numerous consumers having same interest; or
« in case of death of a consumer, the legal heir or representative.
Q14 What is ‘defect' ?
Ans AS per sect.2(1)(f) of the Act , the defect means any kind of fault , imperfection or shortcoming in the quality, quantity, potency or standard of goods, which are required to be maintained under any law, contract or usage or practice in a trade.
Q15 What is the complaint ?


Under sect. 2 (1)(c) of the Act, the complaint means any allegation made in writing by a complainant that –

an unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice has been adopted by any trader or service provider;

the goods bought by him or agreed to be bought by him suffer from one or more defects

the services hired or availed of agreed to be hired or availed of by him suffer from deficiency in any respect;

the trader or the service provider, as the case may be, has charged for the goods or for the services mentioned in the complaint, a price in excess of the price—

« fixed by or under any law for the time being in force;
« displayed on the goods or any package containing such goods;
« displayed on the price list exhibited by him or under any law for the time being in force;
« one or more consumers, when there are numerous consumers having same interest; or
« agreed between the parties;
  goods which will be hazardous to life and safety when used are being offered for sale to the public-
« in contravention of any standards relating to safety of such goods as required to be complied with , by or under any law for the time being in force;
« if the trader could have known with due diligence that the goods so offered are unsafe to the public.
« services which are hazardous or likely to be hazardous to life and safety of the public when used, are being offered by the service provider which such person could have known with due diligence to be injurious to life and safety;
with a view to obtain any relief under the Act.
Q16 What is deficiency ?
Ans As per sect. 2(!)(g) of the Act, the deficiency means any fault, imperfection,shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality,nature and manner of performance n rendering any service required to be maintained under any law, contract or otherwise.
Q17. Where an appeal against the orders of District Forum lies ?
Ans. An appeal against the orders of district forum can be filed before its respective State Consumer DisputeRedressal commission.

What is restrictive trade practice ?


As per sect. 2(1)(nnn) o the Act, restrictive trade practice means any trade practice which tends to bring about manipulation of price of goods or services or their conditions of delivery or flow of supplies insuch a manner as to impose on the consumers unjustified costs or retrictions

It also include:

« delay beyond the period agreed to by a trader in supply of such goods or in providing the services which has led or is likely to lead to rise in the price;
« any trade practice which requires a consumer to guy,hire or avail of any goods or,as the case may be,services as condition precedent to buying, hiring,availing of other goods or services
Q19: What is the limitation for filing an appeal?


An appeal against the orders of District forum can be filed before the State commission within the period of thirty days from the date of such order.

However,the state commission may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing it within that period.

Further, the appellant has to deposit fifty per cent of the decree amount or twenty-thousand rupees,which ever less.

Q20 How the orders of Forum are enforced ?
Ans If the interim order of aForum is not complied with the relevant forum may order for attachment of the property of the person concerned, which shall remain force for three months,and if the non-compliance continues, the property so attached may be sold and out of the proceeds thereof the damages may be awarded to the complainant and the balance amount paid to the parties entitled thereto.

Further, if any amount becomes due to any person under the orders of a Forum, he can make an application to such forum for issuance of a recovery certificate to the collector of the district to recover the same as arrears of land revenue. (sect.25 of the Act).


Can a person who fails or omits to comply with any order of a Forum, be punished?


Yes. If any person fails or omits to comply with the order of a Forum, he may be punished with imprisonment up to three years or with fine o f Rs.2000/- which may extend to Rs 10,000/- or with both.

Limitation and Appeal.


Is there any limitation for filing a complaint?


Yes,there is a limitation of two years for filing a complaint. A complaint can be filed within the period of two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen.

However, a complaint may be entertained after the period of two years, if the complainant satisfies the Forum that he has sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within such period and the Forum records its reasons for condoning such delay.