Basic Rights Of Consumers Under Consumer Protection Act

Author: Malvika Sharma, Law College Dehradun


In 1986, the Consumer Protection Act was implemented to safeguard the rights and interests of consumers. The main motive behind drafting and implementing an act such as this was to make a consumer aware of his rights as well as responsibilities. The 1986 Act was later replaced by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 which was introduced by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan on July 8 2019 in the Lok Sabha. 


A person who buys a product to satisfy his/her own need and consumes it is termed as a consumer. The product purchased by the consumer cannot be sold again to any other person, it can only be used by the consumer to consume it. Any person who consumes the product after taking permission from the buyer who has purchased the product is also termed as a Consumer.

In simple words, if explained then, an end-user of a good or service is a Consumer.

For instance, when parents purchase things for their children; in this situation, parents are not the consumers because they will not use the product, the consumers in this situation are the children because they’re the end-user of the product. Thus, parents are the Customers and children are the Consumers. A proper definition of a consumer has been described in section 2(d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and under Section 2(7) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.


The basic economic entity of an economy is consumers. Consumers have limited income and they try to maximize their satisfaction and utility by purchasing goods & services. 

For a marketplace to flourish, it is very important to have Consumers. 

Consumers not only help in the flourishment and expansion of markets but also have great importance in different avenues which have been discussed below:

●      They uplift Demand in the market: Demand and Supply are the two main market forces and they are regulated by a Consumer. The main source of demand for all products is the consumer. All the products that a producer produces are according to the demand of the Consumer. Thus, consumers create demand in the market for goods & services. 

●      They generate demand for various products: Consumers are responsible for generating demand for a particular product in the market. The supply of products depends upon its demand. For instance, some consumers want to consume barley while others want wheat. And some want both barley as well as wheat. Thus, a producer has to increase his production to satisfy the need and wants of a consumer.

●      The surge in the demand for consumer goods: Durable, semi-durable, and perishable goods are all categorized under Consumer goods. A consumer needs all types of goods& services to satisfy his want and this thus increases the demand for the Consumer goods.


The consumer protection act is based on the Doctrine of Caveat Emptor which means, let the buyer be aware. In simple words, a buyer has to be aware of his responsibilities and must detect any kind of defect in the product purchased. 

Before the implementation of this act, there was no special action to protect the consumers against any kind of fraud or cheating. A consumer could only claim for damages under the law of torts by filing a suit against the seller.

There are several objectives of this act which have been listed below:

● The act lists six rights of a consumer and it is the main objective of this act to protect and promote those six rights.

● To come up with a Quasi-judicial body for speedy disposal of the cases.

● To arrange inexpensive redressal to solve the issues of a consumer

● To set up a consumer dispute redressal forum in every state to solve the issue of every consumer in the country which will be called as State Commission.


The Consumer Protection Act,1986 has acknowledged six rights of a consumer which are discussed here:

  1. Right to safety
  2. Right to information
  3.  Right to choose
  4. Right to be heard
  5. Right to redressal
  6. Right to consumer education


The first and foremost right that the consumer protection act grants to consumers all around the country are the Right to Safety. This right protects the consumer against the marketing of goods and services which are dangerous for the life and property of a person. This right applies to the area of healthcare, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, housing, travel, etc. This right imposes an obligation on the manufacturers to first check the product before launching it in the market. For this, it is mandatory for the establishment of a research office where a team of researchers will first research and experiment on the product being launched. If it is found out that the product was hazardous to the life and property of the consumer and still was launched by the producers then they will be liable for violating the Right of the safety of a consumer. Also, on the part of the consumer, it is necessary to buy products with AGMARK, ISI MARK, FSSAI MARK, etc.


This right gives a consumer the authority to ask a question to the seller regarding the product’s quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price. It is the right of every consumer to be aware of the product that he’s purchasing. This right to information protects a consumer from the unjust trade practice of the seller and also safeguards his interest against fraud and other malpractices. This right imposes a duty on the seller to answer every question of the buyer regarding the product he wishes to purchase.


In a competitive market, a single product is manufactured by various companies at different prices. This right helps to choose a consumer that which product he wants to buy from which seller. A seller cannot force the buyer to buy a particular product at a particular rate from a particular seller. If he does so then he’s violating the Right to Choose which is guaranteed by the Consumer Protection Act 1986 to every consumer. In the case of a monopoly market, it means the right to be assured of satisfaction, quality, and service at a fair price. This right can be best used in a competitive market where a variety of goods are available at different prices.


The right to be heard gives an assurance to the consumer that the interest of the consumer will be the highest priority of the selling company. The main reason behind this right is to assure the customer that their complaints and grievances will be heard by the selling company.

To comply with this, many selling companies have set up Customer Care helpline to solve the issues of their customers and help them with their complaints regarding the quality and quantity of the product.


In case if a consumer has been exploited by the seller or by any selling company then he has the right to claim compensation and damages. This right ensures that all the complaints and issues of the consumer are solved and justice is served to him. 

This is an era of globalization and there’s no direct contact between a customer and seller so the selling companies set out redressal forums to hear the complaints of their buyers. A proper redressal forum has been set up by the government which is known as Consumer dispute redressal agency popularly known as consumer courts and consumer forums.  

These redressal forums provide for free and speedy justice to the consumers in case of exploitation, they’re set under the act of District, State, and National level. A case where compensation sought is less than 23 lakh is dealt with by the district forum, a case where the compensation level doesn’t exceed one crore is dealt by the State forum, and a case where the compensation level exceeds one crore is dealt by the National forum. 

The consumer forum can take the following action if it finds out that the company is at fault:

● Improve the defective product to what they claim

● Not charge any fee to repair the defective product

● Restore the defective product with a new or superior product

● Make a full refund of the price

● Pay for damages/ compensation/ costs

● Draw out the sale of the product

● Stop carrying out any unfair trade practice

● Issue a correct advertisement for prior misrepresentation


The right to consumer education simply means the knowledge and skills to make the right choice regarding a product and its usage. It also means that a consumer should be aware of his rights and responsibilities mentioned under the Consumer Protection Act so that no seller can exploit him. Still, a large part of the population is unaware of their rights as a Consumer, the government is taking efficient steps to make people aware of their rights and responsibilities. Slogans like Jago Grahak Jago, which means the buyer has to be aware of while purchasing anything has been started by the government and many other schemes have also been launched in the remote areas of the country.


The act not only mentions the right guaranteed to the consumer but has also listed down various duties of a consumer. It’s an obligation on the consumer to fulfill all these duties at his best. Some duties that are mentioned in the act are:

● The consumer must pay for all the goods& services that he uses.

● The consumer must check the product, its labels, price, etc. Before buying it.

● The consumer must keep himself updated and educated regarding all the consumer protection schemes.

● A consumer has to not fall prey to any unfair trading practice and buy anything from a black market.

● The consumer has to spread awareness regarding these rights and responsibilities in society.

● The consumer has to file a complaint against any defective product that he has purchased.

● The consumer has to be aware and keep all the bills of the goods& services that he has purchased for future purposes in case he finds the product to be defective and decides to file a complaint against the same. 


The consumer protection act 2019 has key points which distinguish it from the 1986 act, it authorizes the consumers and helps them to protect their rights.

The 2019 act aims to provide speedy justice in consumer-related cases compared to the old act where access to justice was a time-consumer exercise as the old act provided for three redressal forums at district, state, and national levels.

The key highlights of the 2019 act are:

●      Establishment of Central Consumer Protection Authority: The 2019 consumer protection act has established the central consumer protection authority (CCPA) with a primary objective to promote, project, and enforce the rights of consumers.

   The CCPA is empowered to:

→ Investigate the violators of consumer rights and file complaints against them.

→ The goods that are dangerous to life and property can be called back by the CCPA.

→ CCPA can direct to discontinue the misleading and unfair advertisements.

→ It can also impose fines/ penalties on selling companies/producers/ manufacturers of misleading advertisement

●      E-commerce and unfair trade practices: The 2019 consumer protection act has laid down rules and guidelines for E-commerce websites which are:

→ All the information regarding the price, refund, exchange, return, warranty, guarantee, delivery of the product, payment method, country of origin, etc. must be provided by all the E-commerce establishments.

→ All E-commerce establishments are required to set up a redressal officer to redress the complaint of the consumer, the redressal committee must acknowledge the complaint within 48 hours and redress the complaint within one month.

→ If any product is defective, delivered late, or doesn’t match the description as provided on the platform then the buyer can return the product and sellers cannot refuse to take back the product or exchange it or refund the money.

→ The E-commerce entities cannot change the price of the product to gain profit.

→ All these rules for E-commerce establishments are mandatory and not just advisories.

●      Product liability: Product liability means that if any kind of damage is caused to the buyer due to the defective product then the manufacturer, product service provider, or product seller will be responsible for that.

  The basis of product liability action is: 

→ Defected product

→ Defect in the manufacturing of the product

→ Defect in its design

→ No confirmation on warranty

→ Not containing adequate instruction for the usage of the product

→ The service provided is faulty or imperfect.

●      Restriction& punishment on the sale of adulterated goods: Under the consumer protection act 2019, a competent court can cancel the license for 2 years in case of first conviction and can permanently suspend the license of the seller in the case of second conviction if he sells goods that are adulterated.

●      Setup of Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanism of Mediation: A complaint when registered by the consumer should be referred to the alternate dispute resolution mechanism for speedy trial and early settlement. These mediation cells will be established by and under the consumer commission. There cannot be any appeal against the mediation settlement.


Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation V Ashok Iron Works Private limited[1]

In this case, it was held by the Supreme Court that, within the meaning of the word person in section 2(1)(m) a corporate body is also included. The court held what was held in the case of Dilworth vs Commission of Stamps, that the word ‘includes’ is used in the bare provisions to enlarge the meaning of the word but alternatively the words such as ‘means& includes’ can also be used. The interpretation depends upon the objective, text, and context of the act. 

The court also held what was held in the case of Southern Petrochemical Industries, that the meaning of the word ‘supply’ is not the same as sale in the situation of electricity.

Indian Medical Association V. V.P. Shanta & Ors[2]

The court held that the service provided by all medical professionals falls under the scope of ‘services’ under section 2(1)(o) of the act. The court rejected the plea that a medical practitioner doesn’t come under the Consumer Protection Act.

Spring Meadows Hospital& Anr V. Harjol Ahluwalia[3] 

The hospital filed a plea before the court defending the negligence of its nurse which resulted in permanent brain haemorrhage. The question before the court was whether the parents can claim compensation in this case for mental trauma caused due to this. 

The court held that the definition of services in the consumer protection act is wide enough to incorporate within itself the parents who pay for the services of their child. The court upheld that the decision of the National Commission of providing compensation to the parents for mental trauma and the decision of granting compensation to the child for the expenses was right.

Poonam Verma V. Ashwin Patel& Ors[4]

In this case, for the treatment of a patient, a homoeopathic doctor prescribes allopathy medicines. The patient didn’t respond to the medicines and died a few days later. The supreme court held that only a person having qualifications and who has been registered under the medical act has the right to practice the allopathy system of medication.

Thus, the court held the person liable under section 15(3) of the Indian Medical Act which restricted him from practising allopathy, his act was found to be of actionable negligence and he was ordered to pay a compensation of three lakhs.


In a country like India, unfair trade practices are very common. To protect the interest of a consumer the government came up with the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 to which many provisions were added in 2019 through the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019. 

The act makes every consumer aware of his/her right and duties. It not only mentions the right that is guaranteed to a consumer but also mentions his duty as a consumer. Only when a consumer will understand his rights and duties, it can prevent the selling companies/ manufacturers stop their unjust trade practices and the exploitation of a consumer.


  1. 9 February 2009
  2. 1996 AIR 550, 1995 SCC (6) 651
  3. on 25 March 1998
  4. 1996 AIR 2111, 1996 SCC (4) 332