AWARENESS IS THE KEY TO CONSUMER PROTECTION
NATIONAL CONSUMER DAY TODAY


Recognising that consumer awareness and education programme play a pivotal role in protecting consumers, “Jago Grahak Jago” campaign by the Government of India shall be intensified in the coming months. Shri Yashwant Bhave, Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs gave these comments during a function to celebrate the National Consumer Day in the capital today. He said that enactment of Consumer Protection Act on 24 December, 1986 has proved to be a milestone in consumer movement and on this day, all stakeholders should take a pledge to protect the interest of consumers.

Shri Bhave exuded confidence that an aware and enlightened consumer shall play a crucial role in enabling the transition to a knowledge base society. He highlighted that a 3-tier structure comprising of legal framework, Standards and consumer redressal is paramount for protecting the interest of consumer. Giving a small example regarding purchase of gold, Shri Bhave observed that about 18 to 39% samples of gold were found to be of lower Caratage which roughly translates into an annual lose of 7500 crores to consumers. To protect the interest of the consumers, the Government has started the hallmarking scheme and shall be expanding it further in the coming months.

Shri Bhave also highlighted that other issues concerning the interest of the consumers such as MRP, Labeling, Standardisation etc. were being taken up by the Department through its consumer awareness publicity campaign. He also praised the efficacy of consumer forums and pointed out that out of 28 lakh complaints received by the consumer fora till now, more than 25 lakh cases have been disposed off.

Delivering the keynote address, Shri S. Joe Bhatia, President and CEO, of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) emphasized the importance of framing standards to protect consumer interest. Citing the example of the concerns raised regarding toy safety in America, Shri Bhatia said that ANSI is playing the role of a facilitator for the industry to adopt voluntary standards so that consumers can get products with well-defined quality standards. He pointed out that the industry should come forward and adopt voluntary standards which are quick to respond and flexible.

In his concluding address, Justice J.R. Kapoor, President, State Consumer Fora, Delhi described the Consumer Protection Act as a magnificent and one of the finest pieces of legislation ever enacted by any Government world wide. He remarked that if used effectively, Consumer Protection Act can drive all the unscrupulous traders out of business. Highlighting some of the recent judgments of consumer courts relating to penalty on airlines for delay in the flight, penalty on a bank for using strong arm tactics for loan recovery etc Justice Kapoor asked the consumers to become aware of their rights and take pro-active steps in seeking redressal.

Earlier in her welcome address, Smt. Alka Sirohi, Addl. Secretary, in the Department of Consumer Affairs highlighted the various measures being taken by the Government for protecting consumers. She said that the computerization of consumer forum network is being undertaken and soon consumers will have the facility of online registration of complaints. She also pointed out that amendment to Consumer Protection Act to ensure disposal of cases in a specific timeframe is being envisaged.

On the occasion, Monographs on various issues concerning ‘Consumer Protection’ were also released. The monographs in Hindi have been brought out jointly by Indian Institute of Public Administration and the Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India.


OK:CP:consumerday(20.12.2007)

 
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