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;
A person seeking redress before the Consumer Redressal Forum must come within any of the four categories stated above; otherwise he has no locus standi to proceed with his case. The ‘Complainant’ among others means a ‘consumer’ generally. The expression ‘complainant’ as defined in section 2 (1) (b), is comprehensive to enable consumer as well as any voluntary consumer association. This definition is very suitable in a country like India, where majority of the people are illiterate and therefore, power to file a complaint is given to the voluntary consumer associations. The only restriction laid down under the Section in this regard is that, the association must be registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or any other law for the time being in force.
However, a consumer association cannot file a complaint on behalf of unspecified or unidentified number of consumers. In the Case of Upbhokta Sanrakshan Samiti V/s. Winsard foods Ltd., the consumers association found that, the biscuit packets sold by a food company were less in weights. A complainant demanding compensation for the public of the State of Rajasthan was not maintainable.
The act contemplates an identified consumer in order to make the application of its provisions or any consumer association to represent it. An act also contemplates an action in representative capacity, by providing that, when there are numerous consumers having same interest, one or more consumers must file complaint on behalf of others.
Section 2 (1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 defines the term "consumer". It says ‘consumer’ means any person:
a) Who buys goods and has paid or promised to pay a consideration partly or fully under any system of deferred payment.
b) Who hires or avails of services and has paid or promised to pay a consideration partly or fully under any system of deferred payment.
c) Who uses the goods with the approval of the person who has bought the goods for a consideration
d) Who is a beneficiary of the services hired or availed by an individual with the consent of that individual.
Who is not a consumer?
a) 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.
b) An applicant for ration card is not a consumer.
c) The beneficiaries of municipal services have been held to be not in the category of consumers.
Rights of Consumers:
1. The right to safety
2. The right to be informed
3. The right of choice
4. Right to representation (or right to be heard)
5. Right to seek redressal of aggrievances
6. The right to consumer education
7. Right to basic needs
8. Right to healthy environment
Main responsibility of consumer are given as under:
1. Consumer must be aware of their own rights.
2. While making purchase, consumer should look for quality certification.
3. Must obtain cash memo.
4. Be Honest.
5. Ready to lodge complaints.
6. Consumer should avoid polluting the environment.
The District Consumer Protection Council
Section 8-A as inserted by the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002. As per this amendment, The State government shall establish for every district, by notification, a council to be known as the District Consumer Protection Council.
At the lowest level are the District Forums and these are established in each District and have 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), and a complaint can be filed in a District Forum within the local limits of which:
1. The opposite party resides or
2. Carries on his business or works for gain or
3. Where the cause of action arises.
Objects of the District Council:
a) The objects of the District Council shall be to promote and protect the rights of the consumers such as-
b) The right to be protected against the marketing of goods 2[and services] which are hazardous to life and property;
c) The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods 1[or services, as the case may be], so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices;
d) The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices;
e) The right to be heard and to be assured that consumers' interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;
f) The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices 1[or restrictive trade practices] or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
g) The right to consumer education.
The District Consumer Protection Council (hereinafter referred to as the District Council) shall consist of the following members:
a) The collector of the district (by whatever name called) who shall be its Chairman; and
b) Such number of other official and non-official members representing such interest as maybe described by the state government.