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Point out the need for providing protection to consumers.

What measures have


been taken by the Government of India to protect the interest of the consumers?
Ans. Philip Kotler defines Consumerism as "a social movement seeking to augment the
rights and powers of the buyers in relation to sellers".2 Harper W. Boyd, Jr., and David E.
Allen, Jr., state that "although often abused as a term, consumerism maybe best defined
as the dedication of those activities of both public and private organisations which are
designed to protect individuals from practices that impinge upon their rights as
consumers
Consumerism, interpreted as a collective endeavour of the consumers to protect their
interests, is a manifestation of the failure of the business, including that of the public
sector, and the government to guarantee and ensure the legitimate rights of the consumers

Need for Consumerism


The need for consumerism or consumer protection has arisen because of the
exploitation of consumers by businessmen. So, the need has arisen to safeguard
themselves from:
(1) Dangerous and Inferior Merchandise;
(2) False or Misleading Advertisements;
(3) Unfair Trade Practices;
(4) Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade;
(5) Unreasonable High Prices;
(6) Adulteration;
(7) Under Measurement and Under Weight;
(8) Denied After Sales Service;
(9) Duplicate and Sub-Standard Goods;
(10) Hoarding and Scarcity of Goods;
Not only the private sector but also the public sector enterprises like nationalized
commercial banks, state electricity boards, telecommunication departments, etc., have
exploited the consumers. Indian consumers enjoy much less protection as compared to
the consumers of developed countries. Therefore, there is a urgent need of strong
consumer protection policy.
II. Government Measures
The Government measures can be grouped into two
categories: (i) Legislative Measures
The Government has enacted nearly 50 laws which can be interpreted in
favour of consumers. These enactments have empowered the Government to control
the production, supply, distribution, price and quality of a large number of goods and
services. The Government also empowered by these Act to regulate the terms and
conditions of sale, the nature of trade, etc. Some of such Acts have been discussed

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below:
(1) Indian Contract Act, 1872: This Act provides the right to buyers to
avoid those agreements which were made without free consent and to claim damages
for the loss caused by bearch of contract.
(2) Sale of Goods Act, 1930: Although this Act was meant to regulate the
sale of goods, yet it protects the interest of buyers. This Act emphasize the implied
conditions and warranties with regard to title or ownership, quality or fitness of goods,
etc. The Act also has a provision which enables the buyer to exercise certain rights for
non-delivery of goods. It also has a provision to impose penalty on seller in case of
breach of contract.
(3) Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act, 1937: Under
this Act, several commodities such as vegetable oil, ghee, butter, eggs, rice, cotton,
potatoes, honey, spices, etc. are graded. The graded commodities are stamped with the
seal of AGMARK. This help customers in differentiating between quality and non-
quality products.
(4) Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951: The
development and regulation of scheduled industries is governed by this Act. It
empowers the Central Government to conduct investigations into the affairs of
scheduled industries. Under this Act, the Government is empowered to take over the
management of undertakings under certain circumstances. This Act provides for the
establishment of Development and Advisory Councils with very wide functions. This
Act also empowers the Central Government to issue orders relating to equitable
distribution, supply, prices of goods, etc.
(5) Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954: This Act prevents the
storing, manufacturing, selling and distribution of adulterated food as well as mis-
branded food. This Act helps the consumers in getting the pure good as it assures the
public a minimum degree of purity in the food articles. The defaulters are punishable
under this Act for the offences they have committed.
(6) Essential Commodities Act, 1955: The Act empowers the Central
Government to control production, supply and distribution of certain essential
commodities, for maintaining or increasing their supplies; or equitable distribution and
availability at fair prices of the commodities concerned; and securing any essential
commodity for the defence of India for the efficient conduct of military operations.
The list of essential commodities include as many as 60 commodities. The Act
also empowers the Government to set-up of special courts for dealing more efficiently
with persons indulging in anti-social activities.
(7) Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1968: The Act empowers the
Central Government to prohibit strikes in essential services like posts and
telegraphs, water, electricity and defence establishments. Persons can be penalised
for participating or instigating or financing such strikes after invoking ESMA by the
Government.
(8) Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969: The MRTP
Act, 1969 is enacted to control the monopolistic, restrictive and unfair trade practices
which are prejudicial to public interest. The MRTP Commission is empowered to

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conduct inquiries into restrictive and unfair trade practices and to pass appropriate
orders to prohibit them.
(9) Standards to Weights and Measures Act, 1976 together with the
Standard of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977 and
1990: This Act specifies certain norms to be displayed on the face of packed
commodities, like, name and address of the manufacturer/ packer, name of the
commodity, net quantity, month and year of manufacture, sale price, etc. This Act
helps the consumer from the consumption of old and spurious goods.
(10) Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986: This Act has replaced the
Indian Standards Institution Certification Act, 1952. It provides for the establishment
of Indian Standards. It is concerned with the activities of standardisation, marking
and quality certification of goods.
(11) Environment Protection Act, 1986: This Act includes:
(i) Air (Prevention and Control of Pollutic.1) Rules, 1989.
(ii) Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989.
(iii) Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1989.
This Act Safeguards the society from the ill-effects of air and water pollution.
(12). Consumer Protection Act, 1986: This Act is framed mainly to
protect the interests of consumers. It provides special forums to deal specifically with
consumer complaints and issues. (This Act is discussed in detail in the later portion of
the chapter).
(ii) Development of Public Sector
The Government of India has developed the public sector in India in 1956, when
the first Industrial Policy was announced. This sector was mainly concerned with the
enhancement of consumer welfare by increasing production, improving efficiency in
production and supply, making goods available at fair prices, curbing monopolies by
private sector and so on. But the public sector has failed to achieve the goal. The
public distribution system has also failed to reduce the hardships and sufferings of
consumers, particularly, the weaker section of the society.