The C.P. Act, 1986 was enacted to better protect the right and interest of people who are consumers in one way or the other from the exploitation of trade and industries. According to the Act, any one who buys goods and services for his/her use is a consumer. A user of such goods and services with the permission of the buyer is also a consumer.
Consumer disputes redressal agencies (popularly known as Consumer Forums or Consumer Courts) are set up under the Act at district, State and National level to provide simple and inexpensive quick redressal against consumer complaints. Engagement of Lawyer is not a compulsory, the complainant can himself or through a representative represent his case.
A consumer can file complaint in the consumer court against any defective goods purchased or deficient service rendered including restrictive/ unfair trade practice adopted by any trader/person. Normally a complaint is to be filed within two yeas from the date on which cause of action arose.
If the cost of goods or services and compensation asked for is up to 20 lakhs the case can be filed in the concerned Consumer Forum. Similarly for more than 20 lakhs and up to one crore in State Commission and more than one crore in National Commission.
The Consumer Forum has power to order removal /replacement of defects/ deficiencies in goods and services, refund of price paid, compensation for loss/injury suffered, discontinuation of unfair/restrictive trade practice, withdrawal of hazardous or unsafe goods or award of adequate cost to the parties etc.
Besides the above positions the Government of India, Ministry of Consumer Affairs with the active help of its State counter part have implemented some major Welfare Programme through Consumer Court for the welfare of the general public.
1. 24th December, National Consumer Day:-
As per instruction of the Govt., every 24th day of December is being observed as National Consumer Day to promote Consumer Awareness among the public by organizing meeting on a befitting manner involving VCOs working for consumer welfare, members by District Bar Association, School children and other dignitaries including members of public. The aims and objects of organizing the meeting are to bring awareness among the general public about the facilities of speedy redressal of grievances under C.P. Act, 1986.
2. 15th March, World Consumer Rights Day & (Week 15th to 21st):-
As per instruction of Govt. in FS & CW Deptt., the 15th day of March is being observed as World Consumer Rights Day and on this auspicious occasion a week long program is also being observed throughout the District. A giant banner displaying the occasion morefully is hanged in front of the Consumer Forum, Koraput at Jeypore for awareness of the public through out the week. To mark the occasion, meetings are being organized at different places of the District in a befitting manner involving all concerns. Banner and poster are being displayed at meeting places. Leaflets and handouts are being distributed with an aim for create awareness among the public about their rights and responsibilities as bonafide consumers.
3. Counselling Centre:-
The Govt. in FS & CW Deptt. have decided to open Counseling centre on the premises of District Forum by the reputed VCOs / NGOs who are actively undertake consumer related activities to provide assistance to consumer grievance petitions. Accordingly, Govt. have been pleased to select Orissa Consumer Association, Jeypore Chapter for the purpose. The Centre is going to be opened in the premises of District Forum to councel, advise, guide and assist the consumers in redressal of their grievances.
4. Consumer Club:-
The department of Consumer Affairs in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution is the nodal deptt. in the Central Govt. to deal with various matters related to the protection and Welfare of the consumers in the country. In the past it has taken number of measures like assisting VCOs to organize workshop, seminars, training programmes setting up of District Consumer Information Centre in each District, mass awareness programmes under Jagriti shivir Yojana etc. to promote strong and broad based Consumer Protection movement in the country. Now the ministry has taken steps to extend nonformal proactive system of imparting Consumer education to the school children by involving them in various consumer welfare and consumer protection activities by setting up consumer clubs on the pattern of Eco Clubs. The State Govt. is now implementing the scheme with assistance of Govt. of India. As many as 20 consumer club are active in the district of Koraput and the club are in charge of an active teacher in the concerned school.
It has been decided by the Govt. that the functioning of Lok Adalat be started on the last working day of each week for settlement of consumer disputes. The District Forum is also taking steps to organize Lok Adalat for the benefit of consumers. The concept of Lok Adalat is a very convenient option for the consumers to seek redressal of their grievances.