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Monday, December 23, 2013

UGC - NET: Commerce (08)


Consumer Protection Act, 1986
Features of Consumer Protection Act are:
·         The Act applies to all goods and services unless specially exempted by Union Government.
·         It covers all sectors – public, private or cooperative.
·         Provisions of the Act are compensatory in nature.
·         It contains 6 consumers’ rights - to choose, to be heard, to be informed, to safety, education and redressal.
·         It empowers consumers seeking discontinuance of trader’s malpractices, defective goods, service deficiencies or withdrawal of hazardous goods from the market.
·         It applies to whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir

Objectives of Consumer Protection Act, 1986
The objectives of the Consumer Protection Act are as follows:
·         To assist countries in achieving or maintaining adequate protection for their population as consumers;
·         To facilitate production and distribution patterns responsive to the needs and desires of consumers;
·         To encourage high levels of ethical conduct for those engaged in the production and distribution of goods and services to consumers;
·         To assist countries in curbing abusive business practices by all enterprises at the national and international levels which adversely affect consumers;
·         To facilitate the development of independent consumer groups;
·         To further international cooperation in the field of consumer protection;
·         To encourage the development of market conditions which provide consumers with greater choice at lower prices.

Consumer: Section 2 (1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 defines the term "consumer". It says ‘consumer’ means any person:
·         Who buys goods and has paid or promised to pay a consideration partly or fully under any system of deferred payment.
·         Who hires or avails of services and has paid or promised to pay a consideration partly or fully under any system of deferred payment.
·         Who uses the goods with the approval of the person who has bought the goods for a consideration
·         Who is a beneficiary of the services hired or availed by an individual with the consent of that individual.
Who is not a consumer?
·         An applicant for a passport has been held to be not a consumer, because the duties of the passport officer do not fall in the category of services for consideration.
·         An applicant for ration card is not a consumer.
·         The beneficiaries of municipal services have been held to be not in the category of consumers.

Rights of Consumers:
a)      The right to safety.
b)      The right to be informed.
c)       The right of choice.
d)      Right to representation (or right to be heard.
e)      Right to seek redressal of grievances.
f)       The right to consumer education.

Main responsibility of consumer are given as under
Be aware about their right, Quality conscious, Must obtain cash memo, Be Assertive, Be Honest, Ready to lodge complaints against dishonest act of trader, Respect Environment.
Person: A person includes:
a)      A firm whether registered or not;
b)      A Hindu undivided family;
c)       A co-operative society;
d)      Every other association of persons whether registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 or not;
e)      A person by himself has no standing under the Consumer Protection Act. A person has to be a consumer within the definition of the word ‘Consumer’ to get remedy.
Goods: Goods mean every kind of movable property other than actionable claims and money. E.g. it includes stocks and shares, attached to or forming part of the land including growing crops, grass which are agreed to be served before sale or under the contract of sale.
Manufacturer
a)      Makes or manufactures any goods or parts thereof; or
b)      Does not make or manufacture any goods but assembles parts thereof made or manufactured by others and claims the end product to be goods manufactured by himself; or
c)       Puts or causes to be put his own mark on any goods made or manufactured by any other manufacturer and claims such goods to be goods made or manufactured by him.
Trader Is a person who
a)      Sells goods; or
b)      Distributes any goods for sale;
c)       Manufacturer of goods for sale;
d)      Packer of goods who sells or distributes goods in package form.
Complainant: Section 2 (1) (b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 defines the term "complainant" as: Complainant means
a)      a consumer; or
b)      any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956), or under any other law for the time being in force; or
c)       the Central Government or any State Government,
d)      one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest;
e)      who or which makes a complaint;
Note: However, a consumer association cannot file a complaint on behalf of unspecified or unidentified number of consumers.
Complaint: In Section 2 (1) (c) "complaint" means any allegation in writing made by a complainant that:
a)      An unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice adopted.
b)      the goods bought by him or agreed to be bought by him suffer from one or more defect;
c)       the services hired or availed of or agreed to be hired or availed of suffered from deficiency in any respect;
d)      Price in excess of the price fixed by or under any law for the time being in force or displayed on the goods or any package containing such goods;
e)      Goods which will be hazardous to life and safety.
The essential features of a “Complaint” are:
a)      The complaint must be in writing;
b)      The complaint must be made with a view to obtain any relief under the Act;
c)       The Complaint must make any of the five allegations stated under section 2 (1) (c), against a trader or manufacturer;
d)      The complaint must be filed in a manner prescribed under law.
e)      The complaint must be filed before appropriate consumer commission having jurisdiction to entertain complaint.

Procedure for Filing Complaint: The complainant or his authorised agent can present the complaint in person or send it by post to the appropriate forum or Commission, as the case may be. No fee is charged for filing a complaint before the District Forum or the State Commission or the National Commission.
The time period within which a complaint must be filed: Filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen. However, where the complainant satisfies the District Forum/State Commission, that he had sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within two years, such complaint may be entertained.
Decision Time: The District Forum, State Commission and National Commission are required to decide complaints, as far as possible, within three months from date of notice received by the opposite parties. For those complaints which require laboratory analysis or testing of commodities, the period is extended to five months.
REMEDIES UNDER THE ACT:
a)      To remove the defect pointed out by the appropriate laboratory from the goods in question or;
b)      Replace the goods with new goods of similar description, which shall be free from any defect;
c)       Return to the complainant the price of the goods or the charges for the services rendered and / or;
d)      Pay such amount as compensation for any loss or injury suffered by the Consumer or;
e)      Remove the deficiency in the service and/ or;
f)       Discontinue the unfair or restrictive trade practice and not to repeat them and / or;
g)      Not to offer hazardous goods for sale and / or;
h)      Withdraw the hazardous goods for sale and / or;
i)        Provide adequate costs to the parties.

CONSUMER PROTECTION COUNCILS: The consumer Protection Act provides for the constitution of consumer protection councils at Central, State and District levels.
a)      The Central Consumer Protection Council: The Central Government may, by notification, establish with effect from such date as it may specify in such notification, a council to be known as the Central Consumer Protection Council (hereinafter referred to as the Central Council).
b)      The State Consumer Protection Councils: The State Government may, by notification, establish with effect from such date as it may specify in such notification, a council to be known as the Consumer Protection Council (hereinafter referred to as the State Council).
c)       The District Consumer Protection Council: The State government shall establish for every district, by notification, a council to be known as the District Consumer Protection Council.

CONSUMER COURTS AS PER VALUE / AREA OF CLAIM
1.       District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods or services and the compensation if any, claimed does not exceed Rs.20,00,000 (TWENTY LAKHS).
2.       State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods or services and the compensation if any, claimed exceeds Rs.20,00,000 (TWENTY LAKHS) but does not exceed Rs.1,00,00,000 (ONE CRORE).

3.       National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation if any claimed exceeds Rs.1,00,00,000 (ONE CRORE)