Consumer Protection Act, 1986



A consumer may be regarded as a person who purchases goods and services for self-consumption, and also includes the use of goods for his occupations.

Now, the concept of consumerism is not a new concept. It was prevalent since time immemorial.

Consumer- A person who purchases goods and services for personal use.

Consumerism- The protection or promotion of the interest of consumers.

In India, the journey started way back in 1969 when the “Mumbai” housewives raised their voices against the quality of goods. The consumer is a movement by consumers and consumer organisation to ensure that producers, whole sellers and retailers use ethical practices in the sale and purchase of goods and services.

Meaning of Consumerism:

The consumer is a wide term and can notes:

  1. A movement by which the welfare of consumers is ensured and there are protective.
  2. Protective consumers from unfair and restrictive trade practices.
  3. Saving them from economic exploitations by trained sellers.
  4. A theory stating that the consumption of goods is economically beneficial.
  5. A movement for greater protection of consumer rights.
  6. Public concern over the right of consumers.
  7. Promoting consumers interest.
  8. Equating personal happiness with the consumption of goods and services.
  9. Promoting consumer interests.
  10. Movement of protecting and informing the consumers by honest packaging, advertising etc.

Concept of Caveat Emptor:

  • The concept of Caveat Emptor is attributed to English common law.
  • It means ‘let the buyer beware’.
  • Basically, any buyer has the right to be satisfied before purchasing any article goods or services.
  • Presently this rule is stated under Sec.16 of the Sale of Goods Act, 1930.


  • Jones v. Padgett (1890):- In this case, the plaintiff purchased a piece of cloth without stating its use and later on when he used it for making garments, he faced some problems. Courts held that the defendant is not liable because the plaintiff must have been aware of what he is purchasing.
  • Raretto v. T.P. Pruce (1939):- In this case customer approached for a set of false teeth and the dentist gave a set of teeth which did not fit his mouth. He was held liable under the principles of caveat emptor.


It refers to the socio-political movement against the concept of consumerism and the equation of personal happiness. The concept points outs that the rights of a consumer and human rights are of no significance and only the corporation are answerable to shareholders and the consumers are outrightly ignored.


  • Consumerism protects the various rights of consumers.
  • Promotes fairness and honesty among producers.
  • Safeguards consumers against various malpractices.
  • Creates a strong bond between producers and consumers.

Need for the Consumer Protection Act, 1986:


  • Introduction
  • Need for the Consumer Protection Act, 1986
  • Importance
  • Conclusion


Consumer sovereignty in the Indian market is a myth. Consumer faces various problems in developing countries due to”Poverty and Illiteracy”. But it must always be noted that consumer protection is very important as consumer plays a vital role in the development of the economy of the nation and consumer protection is of imminent necessity.

Why we need the Consumer Protection Act?

Consumer Protection Act is needed due to the following reasons:-

  1. Illiteracy and Ignorance:- Consumers in India are most ignorant and illiterate and do not understand their rights and are mostly unaware of their rights, therefore a system is required by which they can be protected.
  2. Unorganized Consumers:- Consumers in India are widely dispersed and not united and so they are at the mercy of businessman and this attitude needs to be changed.
  3. Spurious goods and services:- Supply of duplicate products are increasing ordinary consumers can’t fail to differentiate between original and duplicate. So, consumer protection is necessary. So that consumer gets what they deserved.
  4. Deceptive Act:- It means false and misleading information about the quality, quantity, and safety of the products. Consumers must not be misled and do not know about the real quality of the advertised goods. A mechanism should need to be implemented to prevent such practices.
  5. Malpractices of Businessman:- Unethical and monopolistic trade practices on part of the businessman lead to exploitation of consumers. Consumers also get substandard, inferior quality and defective goods and services. So they have the right to complain against such malpractices which is possible only through consumer protection.

Importance of Consumer Protection Act:

  1. To organize consumer:- Indian consumers are unorganized and any businessman can exploit them very easily. So, if they are organized, it will help them to enforce their rights properly and also fight against malpractice.
  2. Provide market information:- Majority of the consumers have no information about the quality, type, price and various other marketing facilities. Many customers buy without proper product knowledge and suffer a huge loss. So, consumer protection is important.
  3. Importance of physical safety:- Indian market are flooded with products but they may be adulterated and hazardous. Such products endanger life and proper consumer protection helps to control it.
  4. Avoid monopoly:- Consumer protection stops monopoly. Monopoly is carried on by most organizations irrespective of restrictions. Consumers are widely affected due to this and so protection is needed so that such trade is controlled.
  5. Prevent malpractices:- Business malpractices are rampant, restrictive, monopolistic and unfair trade practices, etc. are carried on regularly and need to be controlled. Consumer protection adheres to the same.
  6. Misleading advertisement:- Organisations deliberately cheat consumers through wrong or misleading advertisements. Consumer education and awareness will protect the same and stop such exploitation.
  7. Inform consumer about their basic rights:- Indian has a huge population of which majority (60%) live in villages and are ignorant about their rights. Consumer movement informs consumers about their rights and protects their interests.


Consumer education and protection are of the utmost importance for cordial relations between producers and consumers. Such education enhances accountability and liability necessary for the growth of developing education.      

Objective and Scope of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986:


  • Introduction
  • Evolution of consumer protection law in India
  • Objects of Consumer Protection Act, 1986
  • Scope of Consumer Protection Act, 1986
  • Salient features of the Act
  • Conclusion


Consumer Protection laws are designed to ensure fair competition and the free flow of information. Laws are specifically designed to prevent the business from engaging in fraud, unfair trade practices etc. Consumer law is a public law and covers a wide range of right and liabilities. It was enacted in order to ensure the smooth facilitation of market functions/activities.

Evolution of Consumer Protection law in India:

Prior to the enactment of Consumer Protection Act, 1986, The Sale of Goods Act, 1930 was exclusively governed source of consumer protection in India. It was an ad miserable price of legislation’s is considered as consumer’s charter. The essence lies under section 16 which talks about caveat emptor (let the buyer be aware).

However, in 1986, the act received wide recognition and was finally passed and came to be known as “The Consumer Protection Act, 1986” and it came into effect from (President Assent). 

  • The right to be heard and assured that the consumer interest will be dealt with properly at appropriate forums.
  • The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.
  • Right to consumer education.

Scope of Consumer Protection Act, 1986:

  • The act aims at better protection of consumer interests.
  • Establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for settlement of consumer disputes.
  • Protection of consumer rights being of utmost importance the aims of the act is protect the same.
  • The act is a watershed over all the existing legislation.
  • The quasi-judicial authorities under the act adhere to the principles of Natural Justice in awarding compensation to the consumers.

Natural Justice:

  1. Hear the other side.
  2. None man can be a judge in his own case.
  3. Reasonable decision.
  • Penalties for non-compliance with rules and regulations are also provided under the act.

Salient Features of the Act:

  • The act contains 4 chapters and 31 sections:
  • Chapter I- Preliminary (Sec. 1-3).
  • Chapter II- Consumer Disputes (sec. 4-8B) protection council.
  • Chapter III- Consumer Dispute Redressal Agencies (Sec. 9-27A).
  • Chapter IV- Miscellaneous sections (Sec. 28-31).
  • The act extends to the whole of India except the state of J&K.
  • The act came into force on 15th April 1987 but chapter III came into force on 1st July 1987.
  • The preamble of the act states that an act to provide for better protection of consumer interests for that to make provisions, the establishment of consumer council and other authorities for the settlement of consumers disputes and other connected matters.
  • Section 2 of the act deals with the definition clause.
  • Section 6 of the act states the right of the consumer which are:
    • Right to safety
    • Right to be informed
    • Right to choose
    • Right to consumer education
    • Right to be heard
    • Right to redress
  • For implementing consumer rights, the following councils have been established:
  • Central Consumers Protection Council.
  • State Consumers Protection Council.
  • District Consumers Protection Council.
  • The act provides for 3 Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies (CDRA):


Value of Goods and Services

District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum Not exceeding Rs. 20 Lakhs
State Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum Rs. 20 Lakhs to 1 Crore
National Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum Rs. 1 Crore and above

The act provides the provision for easy, inexpensive and speedy consumer dispute redressal without any advocate.

  • Each trial to be completed within 90 days from the date of receipt of the notice to the defendant.

The inference is observed that protection of consumer and educating is the need of the hour and educating consumers about their rights form an important of the act of 1986 and must be strictly adhered to:

  • Consumer Unity and Trust Society v. Secretary Medical and Health Dept. JPR (1991) 1 CPR 30:- It was held that in order to be a consumer, a person must satisfy that:
  • Service should have been rendered to him.
  • Service should be hired by him.
  • For hiring, considered must be paid.
  • Involuntary Consumer:- When any person unknowing becomes a consumer and also at times forced to be a consumer, he is an ‘Involuntary Consumer’.
  • Consumers availing the insurable of a newly purchased a car.
  • Voluntary Consumer:- The concept of the voluntary consumer is very simple. Such a consumer is one who unwillingly and knowingly avails all available goods and services for a consideration.
  • Buys a pen from C’s shop at Rs. 10/-.

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