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Consumer Protection Jurisprudence: A Constitutional Perspective

Dr. Manoj Kumar Padhy

  1. Introduction

The term “consumer” is a comprehensive expression.  It includes a person who buys any goods or commodity for a consideration either as eatable or otherwise from a cooperative store or grocer or approved ration shop for private or public services.[i] The term “consumer” also includes any person who uses such commodities with the permission of the buyers though he is not himself a buyer.[ii] Any person who hires any service for a consideration is also a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.[iii]  Therefore, consumers by definition include us all. They are the largest economic group affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. Two-thirds of all spending in the economy is by consumers. But they are only important group in the economy, who is not effectively organized, whose views are often not heard.[iv] The fact that all citizens regardless of their income or social standing have basic rights as consumer is recognized in India as well as abroad.[v].  Thus it can be no wrong in saying that the State has a legitimate and compelling interest to protect the interest of consumers.Therefore, all States starting from the most lenient to authoritarian one have put in place legal regime to protect the rights and interest of the consumers[vi].  The Indian state has also taken many legislative, administrative and other measures to protect the interests of consumers from the exploitative deeds and deceptive or fraudulent trade practices of unscrupulous market operators.

Constitution is the grundnorm of the Indian legal system. Hence, the aim of the legal system is to achieve the goals enshrined in the constitution. For this reason, laws should be consistent with the spirit of Constitution. Similarly, the aim of the consumer protection laws is to achieve the goal of consumer protection and at the same time they should also be consistent with the spirit of constitution. In order to examine a consumer protection law in the light of constitution we require constitutional mandate on consumer protection.  But a question arises, as to whether, the constitution carries any provision relating to consumer protection. On this background an effort has been made in this paper to examine the jurisprudence of consumer protection within the framework of Indian Constitution.

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