Modi assures his commitment to safeguard the consumers
Inaugurating the Regional Conference
on Consumer Protection, the Prime Minister, Sri Narendra Modi, proudly cited
the rich Indian traditions since thousands of years, the due importance given
to the consumers. He said that Kautilya had pointed out in Arthasasthra,
that consumer is the most important part of business.
Sri Modi said that to achieve speedier resolution of the
disputes, the Consumer Protection Act was being amended. He also pointed
out that a Consumer Protection Authority will be established. The government
had taken several steps to safeguard the interests of the lower income and
under previleged people. He pointed out whether it was introduction
of GST, ensuring availability of Essential Medicines at reduced cost, Direct
Benefit Transfer Scheme of the LPG subsidy, Ujjwala Scheme to bring down
the price of LED bulbs, have all benefitted the consumers, especially those
who are poor and needy.
Sri Modi wanted the member countries to share their knowledge
and expertise, so that consumers from across the region are benefitted. The
two day International Conference on "Empowering Consumers in New Markets",
was held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, on the 26th and 27th October. The
Conference was attended by representatives from 19 countries, mainly belonging
to the East, South East and South Asian countries. The Conference was organised
by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food
and Public Distribution, Government of India, in association with UNCTAD
(United Nations Conference on Trade and Development).
During the Session-I, "Overview of the United Nations
Guidelines for Consumer Protection and Implementation", chaired by Sri Ram
Vilas Paswan, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution,
I was given an opportunity to speak during the Interactive Debate. I utilised
the occasion to highlight the lack of will of even the Supreme Court to interpret
the Consumer Protection Act, in the larger interests. Our bad experience
in LPG under-weighment case was shared, and requested the Minister to file
the second Curative Petition to strengthen the Consumer movement.
Similarly, in respect of stakeholder participation in
Consumer Protection, as envisaged by the UN, I pointed out the gross inappropriate
action of the then Minister, Sri Sharad Pawar, to minimise the participation
of consumer groups, in 2006. Number of members of CCPC
was reduced drastically, from 160 to 35. For wider consultations as envisaged,
the Minister needs to rectify this. The expected effect could be felt
and was indeed satisfying.
The Conference also deliberated on "Stakeholder Participation
in Consumer Protection", "The Protection of Online Consumers", "Fostering
Consumer Inclusion in Financial Services", "Consumer Education and Empowerment"
and "Special Challenges in Protecting Vulnerable and Economically Disadvantaged
An Aware Consumer
The Indian Consumer Movement which
had a phenomenal launch after the enactment of the landmark Consumer Protection
Act, in 1986, is literally in the doldrums now. The indifferent
actions of the government has led to dismal performance of the consumer
courts and dispirited consumer groups, which were earlier being given a
prime place in the consultation process. Consumer activist B. Vaidyanathan
has published an insightful book ‘An Aware Consumer’. The book throws light
on various initiatives taken by him in order to protect the rights of the
consumers. B.Vaidyanathan, Chief Mentor, Consumer Protection Council
(CPC), Rourkela, has been associated with the Indian consumer movement,
for well over 30 years and has many achievements to his credit, apart from
organising a voluntary consumer organisation in the tribal belt of Odisha.
In this book, he has written about several
campaigns led by him in order to bring awareness about consumer rights
and the landmark Consumer Protection Act. Some of his major initiatives
which fructified, through CPC, Rourkela, include establishing a separate
District Forum for Rourkela, the second in the district, (Sundergarh is one
of the few districts in the country wherein two forums are functioning to
cater to the aggrieved consumers), relocating the Doordarshan TV transmitter
to Durgapur hills, refunding of the booking advance to those affected by M/s
LML and M/s APSL, re-routing of the Alleppey-Bokaro express via Chennai Central,
restoration of the AC Chair Car in the Ispat Express, restoration of Home
Delivery of cooking gas refills, upgradation of 184 LPG bottling plants of
the 3 Oil Marketing Companies (IOCL, BPCL and HPCL), to effectively solve
the issue of short-filling of the refills, which affected crores of unsuspecting
housewives across the country, etc.
One could understand the concern relating
to the evolution and distorted growth of the consumer movement in this
country. In this book, he has strongly conveyed that the benefits
of the statutes enacted by the Parliament should not be allowed to go waste.
It is his message that the Government, Judiciary, Media and the People
will have to play their roles effectively, for a better tomorrow. An important
consultative body like the Central Consumer Protection Council, the backbone
on which the consumer movement got such a fillip in the 90s, has been made
dormant by those in the power in 2006, by surreptitiously amending the Consumer
Protection Rules, has been recorded in the memoirs in unequivocal terms.
Similarly, Mr. Vaidyanathan has not taken lightly,
the lop-sided handling of the LPG under-weighment case by the Supreme Court,
in 2012, practically denying the mandate of the Consumer Protection Act,
to the litigant Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela. The details shared
in the book in respect of this case are indeed alarming and should make
all those vouching for the rule of law, to hang their head in shame.
Published by Notion Press, the book is currently
available on well-known ecommerce sites and bookstores.
Discerning consumers should not miss out reading this book, as it
narrates a number of Public Interest cases, behavior of the courts
and the role of important consultative bodies such as the Central Consumer
An Aware Consumer, is available online at Notion
Press bookstore, Flipkart, Shopclues, Infibeam, Amazon, for readers
from India. Internationally, it can be obtained through www.amazon.com
The e-Book is available through Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Google play,
Rockstand, and iBooks.
The book is also be available at the following bookstores:
Let the consumer
Employees are entitled to benefit of two years weightage
under the Employees Pension Scheme (EPS)
- Justice is not Supreme
Supreme Court fails
to uphold the law
Some suggestions to Chief Justice of India - Is it
that the Laws & Rules need to remain
only on paper?
Amendments to Consumer Protection Act
A big question
mark about the relevance of the judiciary
in safeguarding the consumer
Curative Petition dismissed)
In India, consumers have been at the receiving end
since long. One thought that things
will change for the better after the Consumer Protection
Act was enacted in 1986 and a structured approach
was adopted to promote and safeguard the interests of the
consumers. But after 2004, things have gone from
bad to worse. Commencing from the castration of the Central
Consumer Protection Council, the relevance of the consumer
Act itself has been brought into question. If the government
is found wanting and none too serious to strengthen this voluntary
initiative of the individuals to do their bit for a healthy
society, which in any case is bound to benefit the industry,
its competitiveness and the country as a whole, myopic approach
only appear to rule the roost, as on date.
Important amendments which were brought in
2003 to the Consumer Protection Act, with a clear
objective of penalising Unfair Trade Practices and to
compensate the consumer/litigant adequately have been frustrated
by the indifferent approach of the National Commission as
well as the Supreme Court. That is why, giving the benefit
of doubt to the bench which did not do justice to the issues placed
before it by Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela, and to take
the issues pursued by it to the logical end, Curative Petition
was filed. The GROUNDS
categorically illustrate the denial of “Natural
Justice” to the Petitioner Council and the
failure of the Court in addressing the issues raised in
the “Appeal”. Rupa Ashok Hurra
case specifically has laid “Violation of Principles
of Natural justice” as the valid ground for considering
a Curative Petition. Question is whether a narrow view
of non-issue of notice alone should be taken as the requisite ground
for allowing the Appeal or blatant denial to consider the Grounds
of Appeal by the concerned bench should be treated alike, in
the larger interests of justice? If this anomaly is
not addressed, Curative Petitions will only be
found useful when the media start highlighting an issue, like
the LGBT case – leading to the strength of the population deciding
the outcome of the Curative Petition. This does
not augur well for a civilized democratic country.
Learned ex-Justice of Gujarat & Rajasthan
High Courts, Sri M.R.Calla, and designated Sr.
Advocate of the Supreme Court had unequivocally advocated
for allowing the Curative Petition of the Council, pointing
out the gross miscarriage of justice and denial
of natural justice. But that has not
appealed to the Supreme Court bench headed by the CJI,
who have dismissed
the Curative Petition, as per the Order
made available on the internet today.
Something needs to be done to address and
to save the people from this hyper-technical approach
of the Supreme Court and to promote the consumer movement,
which is after all in the best interests of the nation.
Will Shri Narendra Modi and his government do something to
stem this rot?
How can the
Supreme Court pass an irrelevant order?
is your right'
consumer and go scot-free
Finish the consumer
A consumer organisation
with a difference. Instead
of rendering advisory services alone, the Council
since its inception, in 1985, has been taking up issues
affecting them through the consumer courts and other means
and feels proud to have provided relief to crores of people.
will not be an exaggeration to add that its activities
have added to the confidence of the Rourkela population,
against unethical business practices.
- Remedial action against
short filling of LPG in cooking gas refills; of the
184 LPG Bottling Plants, of the three Oil Marketing
Companies (IOC, BP & HP), only 4 remain to be automated.
Even these will be modernised within the next financial
year 2013-14). The quantified loss of nearly Rs.
750 crores per year to the consumers across the country has
been taken care by this upgradation. Thanks to the
Council's Original Petition initiatied in 2001, before the
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).
- Won an important case against
the Rourkela Development Authority and secured
financial relief for a group of individuals, against
violation of Plan & Specifications in the construction
of the houses and delay in handing over the possession.
- Obtained a separate District
Forum for Rourkela, though it is not the district
headquarters, which otherwise necessitated the
entire Rourkela population to approach the Forum, situated
at Sundergarh, a place 100 km away;
- Re-routing of Dhanbad-Alleppey
Express train through Chennai Central;
- Campaigned against non
transferring of excise duty concessions (to the consumers)
extended by the union government to the industry;
- Better upkeep of the railway
coaches of Utkal Kalinga Express and other trains;
- Reintroduction AC Chair
Car in Ispat Express;
- Refunding of booking advance
by M/s APSL and M/s LML; and many more.
The fifth Voluntary Consumer Organisation
in the country to have set up a Consumer
Information Centre, with the support of Ministry
of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Govt. of
India. Has earned a niche for creating consumer
awareness and handling of individual
as well as group/class grievances. It
is bringing out an English monthly Advantage
Consumer, to educate the consumers. It is represented
in various Advisory bodies.
An Aware Consumer is
an Asset to the Nation
Through this site effort will be made to
disseminate all relevant information and answers
to many of the queries which are frequently asked. Knowledge
is power and ignorance is the root cause of all exploitation.
As a consumer, we hope you will find the site quite
useful. Since ours is a voluntary organisation with meagre
resources we have designed the site on our own and are sure
there will be lot of scope to improve. As such we invite the
public and the visitors to this site to communicate their valuable
feedback, so that we may improve the contents of this site.
Lots & Lots of information in store
for you to tap, in the Information Section.
Why wait to click on Information.
If you are keen to support the Council, you may send in
your donations through crossed Cheques/Demand
Drafts, drawn in favour of "Consumer Protection
Council, Rourkela". All donations to the Council are
exempted under sec. 80G of the Income Tax Act. The Council
is also registered under the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation