Consumer Protection Act 1986: Definition, Objectives and Features

Consumer Protection Act 1986: Definition, Objectives and Features

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Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Mar 8, 2024 13:34 IST

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, is a law in India that safeguards the interests of consumers. It establishes consumer rights and provides a framework for redressal of consumer grievances through the setting up of consumer courts and forums at national, state, and district levels. This act addresses unfair trade practices, defects in goods, and service deficiencies.


In India, Consumers are mostly unaware of their rights and think bad products and services are unavoidable. But it is not true. The parliament of India enacted the Consumer Protection Act 1986 to protect the consumer’s interest. The government has created this act to safeguard the interest of all consumers from unfair and restrictive trade practices.

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What is Consumer Protection Act?

“An Act to protect consumer interests and to establish consumer councils and other agencies for the settlement of consumer disputes and related matters.”

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) is a law that aims to protect the rights of consumers and ensure that they are not taken advantage of by businesses. The act was designed to allow consumers to seek redress for unfair business practices, fraud, and misrepresentation.

The CPA sets out various provisions that protect the interests of consumers, including the right to receive clear information about products and services, the right to fair and honest advertising, the right to safety in the use of products and services, and the right to seek compensation for harm caused by defective products or services.

The act establishes bodies such as consumer courts, commissions, and consumer protection councils to hear complaints and take legal action against businesses violating consumer rights. It also provides penalties and fines for businesses guilty of violating consumer protection laws.

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Additionally, it aims to protect a consumer’s rights from unethical or restrictive trade operations. The Lok Sabha approved this law on December 9, and the Rajya Sabha on December 10, 1986. The President of India gave his assent on December 24, 1986; on December 26, 1986, it was published in the Indian Gazette.

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Who is Consumer According to Consumer Protection Act 1986?

In the Consumer Protection Act 1986, a consumer is defined as any person who purchases, hires, or avails of any goods or services for a consideration, which includes payment or promise of payment. The definition also covers users of goods and services, including beneficiaries of such services, who do not have to pay for them directly but may have received them through a gift or any other means. The Act aims to protect the interests of consumers by providing them with legal rights and remedies against unfair trade practices, defective goods, and deficient services. It covers all types of transactions, including those made offline and online using electronics such as teleshopping, multi-level marketing, or direct selling.

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Consumer Rights

Right to Safety

It means a legal right that protects one from promoting products and services that endanger life and property. The items and services obtained should serve their long-term interests and present requirements. Customers should demand both the product quality and the warranty of the goods and services before purchasing. They should preferably buy high-quality products with labels like ISI, AGMARK, etc.

Ability to Choose

It means having the legal right to various goods and services at reasonable prices wherever possible. Generally, it means that consumers have the right to expect a reasonable price and high-quality service from monopolies. It also covers the right to fundamental goods and services.

This is because the majority may not receive its fair share if the minority’s freedom of choice is unlimited. An environment where various goods are available at competitive prices will allow it to be exercised more effectively.

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Right to be Informed 

It means the consumer has a legal right to information about the items’ quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price to avoid unfair trade practices. Before deciding, the consumer should insist on acquiring all the facts about the good or service. Thanks to this, they will be able to act sensibly and responsibly and avoid giving in to high-pressure selling tactics.

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Right-to-Consumer Education

It means having the freedom to gain the knowledge and skills crucial to making wise decisions as a consumer. The leading cause of customers’ exploitation is their ignorance, especially that of rural consumers. They must be aware of their rights and exercise them. This is the only way to achieve effective consumer protection.

Right to be Heard

Ensures that the customer’s interests are taken into consideration in relevant forums. In addition, it involves the right to be represented in several forums created to protect the interests of consumers. Consumers need to establish non-political, noncommercial consumer organizations to represent them on government consumer committees and other consumer-related bodies.

Right to Seek Redressal

is the ability to file a complaint about unethical business practices or the unscrupulous exploitation of customers. It also involves the right to a fair resolution of the consumer’s sincere complaints. Consumers who have legitimate complaints must file them. Sometimes, their grievance may be of little value, but it may significantly impact society as a whole. They can also seek the assistance of consumer organizations to help them resolve their disputes.

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Consumer Responsibilities

Ask Yourself!

  • Have you ever faced any issues as a consumer?
  • Have you ever complained about a similar issue?
  • Do you know one way to safeguard your interests is to ask a consumer group for help?

Be Critically Aware

It is our duty to be more vigilant and to inquire more about costs, the quantity and quality of things purchased, and the services utilized.

Be Involved

The obligation to be assertive is to ensure that you, as a consumer, receive a fair offer. Also, you should ensure you fully understand all the necessary market conditions and trade practices.

Be Organized

The duty to band together, speak up as consumers, fight as a group, and build the power and influence necessary to advance and defend consumer interests.

Practice Sustainable Consumption 

The obligation to consume in a way that meets your needs rather than your wants and to be conscious of how your actions affect other people, particularly the weaker or more vulnerable groups.

Be Responsible to the Environment

We have an obligation to be knowledgeable about and comprehend how our consumption affects the environment. We should be aware of our personal and collective obligations to preserve natural resources and save the planet for future generations.

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Objectives of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986

The objectives of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986, are:

To Protect Consumers' Rights: It aims to uphold and protect the rights of consumers, such as the right to safety, to be informed, to choose, to be heard, to redressal, and to consumer education.

To Provide a Framework for Redressal of Consumer Grievances: The act establishes a three-tier system of consumer courts at the national, state, and district levels for the settlement of consumer disputes.

To Prevent Unfair Trade Practices: It seeks to curb unfair and restrictive trade practices, ensuring fair and ethical business practices.

To Address Defects in Goods and Deficiencies in Services: The act provides mechanisms to address and rectify any defects in goods or deficiencies in services provided to consumers.

To Promote Consumer Awareness: It aims to educate and inform consumers about their rights and responsibilities to make informed choices and decisions.

Features of the Consumer Protection Act 1986

Consumer Rights: The act defines and enforces basic consumer rights such as the right to safety, to be informed, to choose, to be heard, and to redress.

Establishment of Consumer Courts: It establishes a three-tier system of consumer courts at the national (NCDRC), state, and district levels to redress consumer disputes.

Simplification of Legal Process: The CPA simplifies the legal process for consumers to file complaints, making it more accessible and less cumbersome.

Coverage of Goods and Services: It covers all types of goods and services, barring a few exceptions, and applies to all sectors - whether private, public, or cooperative.

Protection Against Unfair Trade Practices: The act specifically targets unfair trade practices, protecting consumers from exploitation.

Rights to Compensation: Consumers can seek and are entitled to compensation, repair, and other remedies for harm caused by defective products or deficient services.


What is the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 1986?

The Consumer Protection Act is an Indian law enacted to safeguard the rights and interests of consumers. It addresses issues related to product quality, unfair trade practices, and consumer grievances.

What are the objectives of the CPA 1986?

The primary objectives are to protect consumers from unfair trade practices, ensure the availability of accurate information, provide quick and accessible remedies for consumer disputes, and promote consumer awareness.

What does the CPA cover in terms of consumer rights?

The CPA covers various consumer rights, including the right to safety, right to information, right to choose, right to be heard, and the right to seek redressal for grievances.

What are the remedies available under the CPA for consumers?

Consumers can seek remedies like compensation for damages, replacement or repair of defective goods, refund of money, and discontinuation of unfair trade practices through various consumer forums established by the act.

What is the role of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies under the CPA?

The CPA establishes three-tier consumer dispute redressal agencies: District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. These agencies provide a platform for consumers to file complaints and seek redressal.

About the Author
Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content

Chanchal is a creative and enthusiastic content creator who enjoys writing research-driven, audience-specific and engaging content. Her curiosity for learning and exploring makes her a suitable writer for a variety ... Read Full Bio