Laws Governing Defects In Goods & Commodities & Deficiency In Services

There used to be a time when the exploding population growth was perceived as the biggest challenge of ‘ Developing India ‘, but at the advent of Industrial Revolution, while the developed nations achieved substantial supremacy in production of goods; countries like India, Brazil, China, etc.., ignorantly entered the club of being some of the largest consumer markets in the world. Today, India is poised to become the third-largest consumer market behind only the US and China. This is self-evident that while China and India are the most populous countries in the world, they also remain the biggest markets. Consequently, the tables have turned, and while population explosion still remains a worrisome situation, but this also places the populous countries as ‘ land of opportunities ‘, which provides these states with a basket of favorable economic conditions to grow and prosper.

The relationship between Regulations and Economic Growth is relatively proportionate, hence as the consumerism grew leaps and bounds in our country, the need to regulate this geometric growth was evident. While Historically consumer welfare dates back to the Vedic Age. Four broad types of criminal offenses were prominent in the ancient period: adulteration of foodstuff, charging of excess prices, fabrication of weights and measures, and sale of forbidden articles. For these offenses, statutory measures were recommended in the leading ancient texts: Manusmriti and  Kautilya’s Arthashastra. Further, the Constitution of India states different provisions in the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy to further the concept of the welfare state. Thus consumer justice is a part of social and economic justice enshrined in the Constitution and same were regulated through various enactments like Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the Indian Contract Act, 1872, the Sale of Goods Act, 1930, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 and the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, Drugs Control Act, 1950, Drug and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, Essential Commodities Act, 1955, Export Quality Control and Inspection Act, 1963, Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential and Commodities Act, 1980.

With India opening its doors to international trade and commerce that led to the vast expansion of business and trade, which in turn made the advertisement industry have a far-reaching influence on consumers. This affected the relationship between the manufacturers/traders and the consumers, besides making the consumer, the principle of sovereignty almost inapplicable. With the producer’s supremacy; defects in goods and deficiency of services were prevalent. It became necessary to protect the consumers from exploitation and provide for better protection of their interests.

Also Read – What Are The Rights Of Consumer Under Consumer Protection Act?

Eventually, when the United Nation’s – General Assembly, passed a resolution adopting a set of guidelines for consumer protection to persuade the member countries to adopt policies and laws for better protection of the interests of the consumers, the Consumer Protection Bill, 1986 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 5th December 1986 (COPRA, 1986), which was amended from time to time. Further with the advent of Online Shopping, came the necessity to regulate – Privacy, Security of Online Transactions and other evolving aspects of the trade,  the act was once again amended recently and is now The Consumer Protection Act 2019, which provides for simpler and quicker access to redressal of consumer grievances.

The Act for the first time introduced the concept of ‘consumer’ and conferred express additional rights on him. The Act doesn’t seek to protect every consumer within the literal meaning of the term. The protection is meant for the person who fits in the definition of ‘consumer’ given by the Act. It becomes a requisite to understand the vital definitions within the act.,

Who is a consumer?

Section 2(d) of the Act says that ‘ consumer ‘ means any person who

(i)   buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment when such use is made with the approval of such person but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose; or

(ii)   hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first-mentioned person;

Who is a Trader?

Section 2(1)(q) of the Act says that ‘ trader ‘ means any person who

sells or distributes any goods for sale and

includes the manufacturer thereof, and

where such goods are sold or distributed in package form, includes the packer thereof.

Who is a Manufacturer?

Clause (j) of section 2(1) of the Act, says ‘ manufacturer ‘ means a person who

(i)   makes or manufactures any goods or parts thereof; or

(ii)   does not make or manufacture any goods but assembles parts thereof made or manufactured by others and claims the end-product to be goods manufactured by himself; or

(iii)  puts or causes to be put his own mark on any goods made or manufactured by any other manufacturer and claims such goods to be goods made or manufactured by himself.

What are Goods?

The Act does not define the term ‘Goods’ It says that  ‘ goods ‘ means goods as defined in the Sale of Goods Act, 1930.

Section 2(7) of the Sale of Goods Act, 1930, defines ‘ goods ‘ as   “ Goods means every kind of movable property other than actionable claims and money; and includes  stock  and  shares,  growing  crops,  grass,  and   things  attached  to  or forming part of the land which are agreed to be severed before sale or under the contract of sale.”

What is a Defect?

Section 2(1)(f) of the Act provides that, ‘ defect ‘ means any fault, imperfection or shortcoming in the quality, quantity, potency, purity or standard which is required to be maintained by or under any law of the time being in force under any contract, express or implied or as is claimed by the trader in any manner whatsoever in relation to any goods.

What can be termed as a service?

Section 2(1)(o) of the Act provides that ‘ service ‘ means service of any description which is made available to potential users and includes the provision of facilities in connection with banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, the supply of electrical or other energy, board or loading or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service.

What is meant by “deficiency” in service?

Section 2(1)(g) of the Act provides that, ‘ deficiency ‘ means any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been under­taken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service.

Who can file a complaint?

Sections 2(b) & 12 – At the outset, it is clear that a person who can be termed as a consumer under the Act can make a complaint.

(a)   a consumer; or

(b)   any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or under any other law for the time being in force, or

(c)   the Central or any State Government,

(d)   one or more consumers, where there are numerous consumers having the same interest.

Consumer Forums

The Act provides for a 3 tier approach in resolving consumer disputes.

First, there is the district court, called District Consumer Disputes Rederessal Forum (District Forum), next comes the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (State Commission), at the national level, there is National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (National Commission). These forums have not taken away the jurisdiction of the civil courts but have provided an alternative remedy.


The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 serves as a comprehensive piece of legislature that offers an array of benefits to the consumers in protecting their rights and interests.  While vesting the consumers with right of safety, right to choose, right to be heard and right to consumer education and providing for simple, speedy and inexpensive reliefs, besides making the redressal machinery available within the reach of the consumer and enforcement of penalties and product liability on the trader/manufacturer, the COPRA is indeed a progressive legislature to govern the laws relating to defects in good and commodities and deficiency in services.

This Article Written by Vijay Surana M, Advocate

Law Corner

Leave a Comment