Nature & Evolution of Consumer Laws


With the developing technological advancements, the interdependence of several business practices has been accompanied by the world economy for the basic contribution in the protection and promotion of consumer laws on the behalf of universal platforms. While looking forward to these advancements, there is uncertainty which is affecting the quality, accessibility and well-being of merchandise followed up with the administration. In any of the cases, the unavoidable fact is that the consumers are still the victims of corruption and other exploitative practices being performed in the market.

Furthermore, with upheaval in the technological innovations, more up-to-date difficulties are being tossed upon the consumers such as cybercrimes while doing an online payment or transaction etc., which is affecting the consumers apparently in a greater sort of way.

Following the principle of “Caveat Emptor” which technically highlights the relationship amongst the consumer and seller, follows up with the role of a seller being extra fragile while selling up the goods and consumer making the transaction on the behalf of trust maintained in their relation. But along with the growth of time, the market came in the developing scenario of – “one-on-one” principle where the seller showcase the goods, consumer examines it thoroughly and after getting the satisfaction in respect of the quality, continues for the transaction.

Although, the maxim eased the seller for the commitment so that he can make the exposures about the nature of the goods he is showcasing in the market. Be that as it may, with the developments of exchange and the globalization in the marketing standards, the concept of faith on the seller is no more constant. It is presently not possible for the consumer to inspect the goods before making the transactions because of the vast majority of exchanges being performed and finished in the due correspondence of the time.

Mahatma Gandhi is the father of the nation once described the importance by attaching the beneficiary realm about the “poor consumer”. He said:

“A Consumer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us we are on him. He is not an interruption to our work; he is the purpose of it. We are not doing a favour to a consumer by giving him an opportunity. He is doing us a favour by giving an opportunity to serve him.”[1]

In this article, the brief introduction would be curtailed on the ground of nature & evolution of the consumer laws and how the legislature with the help of the government worked for the amendments in the legal arena for the protection of the consumers.


When the idea of consumer protection laws came into account, it created a whiz reaction just for acknowledging the privileges of each consumer that should be ensured against any kind of misuses or maltreatment done by the seller, merchandiser or any other wholesale organisation. As being followed up with care, the possibility of consumer insurance can be found in the existed legal system regardless of whether it is a present scenario or the past one.

Until the advent of independence, there was hardly any legislation enacted primarily to protect consumer interest. Legislative enactments which protected the public interest (not necessarily the consumer interest) were the Sale of Goods Act 1930, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940, the Indian Penal Code and some other laws of general applicability. However, the legal system rested on the false assumption that there was formal equality of the contestants in terms of talent and resources. For the poor man, the system of law or a law person was something to keep away from. The same system of law which was the source of benefits and protection to well-to-do segments of the society was looked at by the poor man with distrust and fear.[2]

In respect to the view of a frail consumer movement going on in India, the law remains in the developing phase where the legislature was working on the drafting of rules and regulations. In the plight of this, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 came into force for providing better and accessible protection in the interest of the consumers and the sole purpose was to develop the various provisions for the establishment of committees and other authorities for doing the settlement of consumer disputes on a basic ground and for the matters which are being connected therewith.

The object is also to provide speedy and simple redressal to consumer disputes-quasi judicial machinery is sought to be set up at District, State and Central Levels. These quasi-judicial bodies are to observe principles of natural justice and have been empowered to give relief of specific nature and to award, wherever appropriate, compensation to consumers. It seeks, inter-alia, to promote and to protect the rights of consumers such as protection against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to life and property, the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices, the right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods at competitive prices, the right to be heard and to be assured that the interest of consumers will receive due consideration at appropriate forums, the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers and right to consumer education.[3]


With the reference to the highly competitive market, it is very important to generate the literary knowledge about the economic terms, various marketing methods and introduce them to the consumers present in the market. For the beneficiary advancements, the nature of the consumer laws was being identified for the first time by the president of UN, John F. Kenedy who stated various rights for the consumer including:

1. Right to Safety –

This right was being used for the protection against the products, including the process of production along with the marketing of such goods and services provided that will cost for the danger to life and property of the consumer. The main focal point of this right was on “consumer safety”.

2. Right to be informed –

This right was being used for the protection against the fraudulent, wrong and misleading information confronted in the advertisements, labeling or other malpractices and the consumer must hold an informed choice regarding the selection of the products.

3. Right to choose –

This right was being provided to the buyers that they can hold the power to get access for the products of different qualities, price tags, and different designs to make a choice accordingly to their needs. This was the right given to buyers just to make correct choices about the products and the services at competitive prices along with the assurance of getting the quality and safety demanded.

4. Right to be Heard –

This right assumes a significant place in law whenever there is a dispute against any individual in the society. This means the right to representation so that consumer’s interests receive full and sympathetic consideration against exploitative elements in society. Whenever a seller sells goods to a buyer or whenever one renders service to another, it becomes his duty to give a patient hearing to the problems of the buyer or the receiver or the receiver of the service.[4]

After this, the Confederation of Indian Consumer Organization (CICO) along with the International Organization of Consumer Union (IOCU) included three more rights in the list:

1. Right to Consumer Education –

This right technically refers to the preparation of an individual just to solve the basic problems with the help of the consumer education provided to him. Through the basic idea of consumer education, the consumer can easily receives the general idea regarding consumer rights, laws and the background of consumer protection.

2. Right to Redress –

This right provides for the process to claim the compensation for any kind of misrepresentation or unsatisfactory services provided to consumer.

3. Right to Healthy Environment –

This is the right which provides the basic ground for the ideal living & working environment in which there would be no dangers and will permit the consumer to live with dignity.

Scope & Objective[5]

Consumer education should enable the buyer to purchase those goods which maximize his satisfaction with minimum cost. Therefore consumer education should deal with:

1. Quality

2. Quantity/measurement

3. Function

4. Cost-benefits

5. Comparable elements

6. Government Laws – Weights and Measurement Act, Act with regard to adulteration, standardization and AGMARK, provisions of Essential Commodities Act and facilities such a s food testing laboratory of the Municipal Corporations etc.

7. Agencies (government and voluntary) offering consumer guidance and/or protection.

8. Consumer cooperative relationship.






This article is authored by Yumna Chand, Fourth-Year, B.A. LL.B (Hons.) student at JIMS, School of law, affiliated to GGSIPU 

Also Read – How to File a Case in Consumer Court?

Law Corner

Leave a Comment