Some of the important features of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 are:
- It aims at providing overall/holistic protection to the consumers.
- The Act is applicable to entire, except for the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The Act is applicable to all goods and services, unless explicitly stated by the Central Government.
- The Act protects consumer against defective and hazardous goods, deficient and inappropriate services and unfair trade practices like hoarding, black marketing, insider trading, monopolies etc.
- The Act provides redressal of consumer grievances in a simple and inexpensive way.
- The most important aspect of the Act is that it has a set time frame for settlement.
- Consumers having common interests and grievances can collectively file complaint, under ‘class action’ provided under the Act.
- The Act cover both public and private sector suppliers of goods and services.
- The Act provides for formation of Consumer Protection Councils, which promote consumer protection under the consumer rights (Section 6, Consumer Protection Act, 1986). It is important that these councils do not have any legal authority under the Act and merely facilitate addressable of consumer grievances.
- The Act has a comprehensive definition of services. The considers services of any description rendered/offered by any individual or organization, including public sector undertakings or government agency. This excludes free services and contracts of personal services. The following services also do not fail under the purview of the Act: (a) Civil amenities provided by municipal authorities. (b) Medical services provided by government hospitals.
- The Act also provides for unfair trade practices like food adulteration, overcharging or short weighing on fixed price items and packaged commodities etc. Such grievances can be directly taken to District Forums directly.
- The Act is considered as a progressive instance of social welfare legislation. The Act has fortified consumer movement in India. The Act is one of its kinds, as it pertains to market and seeks redressal of complaints arising out the market interactions.
- The Act is customer-oriented and safeguards the interests of the consumers against unjust and exploitative business practices like selling of defective goods, rendering poor services etc.
- The Act provides for a simple procedure for filing grievances. The complaint can be made in a simple form, where the name and address of aggrieved party and opposing party are duly mentioned. The complaint can be written in form of a letter to the Redressal Forum. It is not obligatory for the parties to engage advocate. The Act allows the complainant or authorized agent to appear before the Redressal Forum.
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