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Consumer Rights and Responsibilities in India

Updated on :  

08 min read.

The government enacted the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (‘Act’) to protect consumer rights and interests. The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 replaced the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The Act aims to achieve public welfare by enabling consumers to participate directly in the market. It covers all goods and services by the private and public sectors. It is a weapon in the hands of the consumers for enforcing consumer rights and fighting against exploitation by manufacturers, traders, sellers and providers of services.

What is Consumer Rights?

Every country provides a set of consumer rights to ensure maximum protection for its citizens. Consumer rights allow customers to have the required information about goods and services while purchasing them. Even though manufacturers, traders, sellers and businessmen know their responsibilities towards society, they could exploit the consumers through fraud, unfair trade practices, etc. 

Consumer rights protect consumers against such unfair practices and enable them to enforce these rights. In India, the government provides consumer rights under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 to protect their interests.

Types of Consumer Rights

The Consumer Protection Act provides six consumer rights to people, which are as follows:

Right to be Protected 

The right to be protected protects consumers against marketing products, goods or services that are hazardous to property and life. A manufacturing defect in the goods like electrical appliances, gas cylinders, etc., can cause harm/loss to the consumer’s health, life and property. The right to be protected gives consumers the right to insist on the goods’ guarantee and quality before purchasing. They should choose an AGMARK or ISI-approved good or product.

Right to be Informed

The right to be informed provides that the customers must be informed about the quantity, quality, standard, purity, potency and price of products, goods or services to protect the consumers against unfair trade practices. Sellers or manufacturers should provide all the required product details to the buyers or consumers so they can act wisely while purchasing goods. The manufacturers must give all the relevant information on the label and package of the product.

Right to Choose 

The right to choose gives consumers the right to access various products, goods or services at competitive prices. A competitive price means a fair price. The sellers, retailers or traders cannot force consumers to purchase the goods of a specific brand. The consumers can choose the brand they find suitable from their point of view. The right to choose assures that good quality and services are given to consumers at reasonable prices in case of a monopoly. It also includes the right to basic services and goods.

Right to be Heard 

The right to be heard assures the consumer’s interests will be heard and considered at the appropriate forum. The consumers will have adequate means to raise their issues in the relevant forum, and their interests will be considered. Consumers can file a complaint in case of unfair trade practices by the seller in appropriate forums. The appropriate forums will give them a fair chance to the consumers to state their grievances. They may take the help of consumer organisations set up to protect consumers to enforcing this right.

Right to Redressal

Consumers have the right to seek redressal against restrictive trade practices, unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers. It also includes the right to a fair resolution of a consumer’s grievances. Consumers can file a complaint when they have a legitimate grievance. They can also seek redressal of their problems with the support of various consumer organisations. The compensation can be money, repair of defective goods or replacement of goods according to the issue of the consumer.

Right to Consumer Education

The right to consumer education means consumers should be aware of their rights to avoid exploitation. Under this right, the consumer has the right to acquire the required skills and knowledge to be an informed consumer. When consumers know their rights, existing acts and agencies set up for their protection; they can take action. The government has also introduced consumer education to the school curriculum and university courses.

Importance of Consumer Rights

Many people complain that they receive contaminated or substandard products, goods or services for which they pay the entire price. Such products can cause harm to the health of consumers. Thus, consumer protection is a priority for the government. The government has recognised certain consumer rights to protect their interests. 

The Act gives certain consumer rights to the people to ensure that the manufacturers or sellers do not cheat them and that the consumers are protected against fraud or exploitation. Consumers must take precautions to buy the correct goods at the right price and know how to avoid loss or injury. Along with having consumer rights, it is also essential to know them to enforce them and get the appropriate remedy/compensation.

Under the Act, consumers can register complaints and be compensated for receiving contaminated or substandard products. It encourages and protects to speak up about defects and inadequacies in services and products. It protects consumers when traders, manufacturers and sellers engage in illicit trade.

Consumer Responsibilities

Consumers have responsibilities towards other consumers and society members and help them fight against unfair trade practices and create awareness regarding consumer rights. Government and non-government organisations have made various efforts to protect the interest of consumers. These efforts will be helpful and can stop the exploitation of consumers only when they understand their responsibilities and take actions to safeguard their interests. 

What are the Responsibilities of a Consumer?

Below are the responsibilities of a consumer:

Responsibility to be Aware

Consumers must be mindful of the safety and quality of products and services before purchasing them. They should not trust the seller blindly and must get the information on the price, quality, standard, etc., of the product.

Responsibility to Think Independently 

Consumers should know what they want and need. They must make wise choices and not settle on the quality or standard of a product or service. They need to make independent choices and refrain from buying products under the influence of the sellers.

Responsibility to Speak Out 

Consumers should express their grievances and file complaints against contaminated or substandard products even when the loss is small. When consumers do not speak out against the loss they suffered and do not file a complaint, it encourages businessmen to practise unfair trade practices and supply defective goods.

Responsibility to Complain 

Consumers should take responsibility for filing complaints against sellers or manufacturers when they are unsatisfied with the goods or services. Consumer rights can only be enforced when consumers take responsibility and exercise them.

Responsibility to be an Ethical Consumer 

Consumers must be ethical and fair and not file fraud complaints against dealers or manufacturers for personal reasons. They should not engage themselves in deceptive practices. They should discourage any illegal trade, hoarding, black marketing, etc.

Responsibility to be Quality Conscious 

The problems of duplicate, adulterated and substandard products can be resolved when consumers stop compromising on the quality of goods. Thus, consumers should be aware of a product’s quality and look for products with Agmark, ISI mark, etc.

Consumer Courts

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, provides for establishing Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (known as consumer courts or consumer forums) to protect and enforce consumer rights. The Act provides for establishing redressal agencies at the district, state and national levels for quick redressal against consumer complaints.

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission or district commission deals with complaints where the value of goods or services are below Rs.1 crore. The state commission deals with appeals from the orders passed by the district commission and complaints where the value of goods or services is above Rs.1 crore but below Rs.10 crore. The national commission entertains complaints where the value of goods and services exceeds Rs.10 crore.

When a complaint is filed in the district commission, the commission will give a chance of hearing to consumers and sellers/manufacturers/companies, collect evidence from them and pass an order/judgement. The consumer redressal commissions can grant the following compensation to consumers when there is a defect in goods:

  • Repair the goods free of cost
  • Correct deficiencies in the product 
  • Replace the product with a similar or superior product
  • Issue a refund of the price
  • Pay compensation (money) for costs, damages or inconveniences
  • Withdraw the sale of the products or goods altogether
  • Discontinue or not repeat unfair trade practice/restrictive trade practice
  • Issue correct advertisement in place of the earlier misrepresented advertisement

The government has taken various measures to increase consumer awareness so that consumers can enforce their rights. The Consumer Protection Act gives certain rights to consumers, which protects them from unfair trade practices and losses suffered due to the sale of adulterated, substandard or defective goods. The consumers must enforce their rights and take responsibility for filing complaints against the manufacturers or sellers to prevent them from cheating the public.

Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are solely for information purposes. No attorney-client relationship is created when you access or use the site or the materials. The information presented on this site does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your state.

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