Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (COPRA)

Consumer Protection Act 1986, COPRA

COPRA is applicable to all goods sold and services rendered
by any person /constitution pertaining to public / private or co-operative
sectors. The act covers all transactions in respect of goods and services.
Banking and insurance services are also covered by the act.
The objective of the act is to provide better protection to
the interest of the consumer. Central Consumer Protection Council has been
constituted by the central government. The minister for food and civil supplies
is the chairman. It has 150 members providing for representation of various
groups like MPs, Commissioner of SC/ST consumer organization, women, farmers

consumer rights

State level Consumer Protection Council has been set up at
state level.
The provisions of this act of compensatory in nature which
means apart from the actual damages caused to the buyer or beneficiary of
services, compensation for aspects like mental agony, reputation also may be
decided by the judiciary.
However the provisions of this act is not made applicable to
Jammu and Kashmir state.
Definition of the Consumer. Consumer is any person who buys any goods/ avails any
service for consideration i.e. for value for example a person who got the goods
or services as a gift cannot be treated as a consumer. In the transaction whether
the amount is fully paid or partly paid or payment is deferred over a period of
time, still the buyer or the beneficiary will be treated as a consumer. The
goods should have been purchased for the self-use and not for resale or
commercial use.
Rights of the consumer. The rights of the consumer are:
1. To be protected against marketing of goods hazardous to life
or property.
2.   To be informed about quality and quantity price standard.
3.   To get access to variety of goods.
4.   To seek justice against unfair trade practices.
5.   For consumer education.
Structure: Under COPRA the Complaints/disputes can be settled at three
levels depending upon the amount of claim.
District forum: Each District will have one District Consumer Forum and it
will comprise of three members- one person is a District Judge, second is an
eminent person in trade, commerce or education. Third is a lady social worker. Term
of each member is 5 years for office and is meant for claims up to rupees 20
State Commission: This is a State level Consumer dispute Redressal Commission
and it is meant for claims between Rs. 20 lacs to 100 lacs. This Commission
comprises of three members, High Court judge as president, two other members (one
women) who have adequate experience knowledge in economic, law and who are
persons of high integrity and standing.
National Commission: This is at at National level and is meant for claims above Rs. 1
crore. This consists of 5 members and will be headed by a retired Supreme Court
judge, designated as president. The Other member (one woman) will be percent of
integrity and ability as well experienced /well informed in Economics, Law etc.
Salient Features: Complaints
may be consumers/ voluntary organizations/ Central or State Government. Complaints
may be on account of loss or damage due to unfair trade practices. Complain
should be in writing and contain all details along with the supporting documents.
Complaint may be by one consumer/ group of consumers. Frivolous or vexatious
complaints will be dismissed. No feee need to be paid to consumer forum while
filling the complaint. Filling of complaint should be in writing and closing
all documentary evidences. The cause of complaint should fall within the
limitation period, as per Indian Limitation Act. The complaint should be filed
within the appropriate jurisdiction as per the amount of the claim. Award may
be given for removal or replacement of defective goods, refund of price,
payment of damage and compensation.
Award: While dealing with the case under COPRA, award is expected
to be passed by the Forum President within 3 months, in case no further
Chemical/ Laboratory examination of goods products is required. In case the
examination is required, Award may be given in 5 months. Both the parties of
the complaint have to appear before the forum. Consumer Forum has the power to
serve summons to all the parties to the case to present before the forum as and
when required.
Once the award is passed by the forum the orders are to be
complied within 30 days, so as to avoid attracting imprisonment for a period
from one month to 5 years and fine ranging from Rs. 2000 to Rs.10000 for both. Any
of the parties to the case, not satisfied with the Award may prefer an appeal
with the next level of forum within 30 days from the date of Award.

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