( By Dr. Jagdish Singh )

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The Background

The best way to come directly to the issue would be to know about the rights of the consumer. The eight rights as defined by the International Organization of Consumers’ Union ( IOCU) are as follows :


  1. The Right to Safety
    Which means the right to be protected against products, production processes and services which are hazardous to health or life. The right to safety has been broadened to include the concern for consumers’ long-term interests, not only their immediate desires.
  2. The Right to be Informed
    Which means the right to be given the facts needed to make an informed choice or decision. The right to be informed now goes beyond avoiding deception and the protection against misleading advertising, labelling or other practices. Consumers should be provided with adequate information, enabling them to act wisely and responsibly.
  3. The Right to Choose
    Which means the right to have access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices and in the case of monopolies, to have an assurance of satisfactory quality and service at a fair price. The right to choose has been reformulated to read : the right to basic goods and services. This is because the unrestrained right of a minority to choose can mean for the majority a denial of its fair share.
  4. The Right to be Heard
    Which means the right to be represented so that consumers’interest receive full and sympathetic consideration in the formulation and execution of economic policy. This right is being broadened to include the right to be heard and represented in the development of products and services before they are produced or set up; it also implies a representation, not only in government policies, but also in those of other economic powers.
  5. The Right to Redress
    Which means the right to a fair settlement of just claims. This right has been generally accepted since the early 1970s. It involves the right to receive compensation for misrepresentation or shoddy goods or services, and where needed, free legal aid or an accepted form of redress for small claims should be available.
  6. The Right to Consumer Education
    Which means the right to acquire the knowledge and skills to be an informed consumer throughout life. The right to consumer education incorporates the right to the knowledge and skills needed for taking action to influence factors which affect consumer decisions.
  7. The Right to a Healthy Environment
    Which means the right to a physical environment that will enhance the quality of life. This right involves protection against environmental problems over which the individual consumer has control. It acknowledges the need to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.
  8. The Right to Basic Needs
    The right to basic needs means that availability of articles which are the basic need of every consumer must be ensured.15th March is celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day. On this day in 1962, President J.F. Kennedy declared four consumer rights ( No.1 to 4 ) in the special message to the American Congress. Consumer rights number 5 to 8 were subsequently added by IOCU.

    Govt. of India also included the above rights in its Twenty-Point Programme. The Consumer Rights No. 1 to 6 are also enshrined in our Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

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