Protection of the Rights of the consumers and prevention of their violations
Zahid Ahmed Hero:
All the citizens of our country are in fact a kind of consumer in actual sense of the term. Because we are to consume for our survival and this consumption does not necessarily mean only foods but also includes services such as medical services, transport, residential hotel, restaurant and health services providing institution and so on.
In our country, food adulteration, fake goods, below standard services, are very common phenomenon. Unfortunately during the period of any holy and religious occasion like Ramadan, Eid, Puja, Christmas and so on, this sort of anti-consumers rights practices increases to a great extent. Whereas for the protection of the rights of the consumers’ as well as for the prevention of anti-consumer rights practices, The Consumers’ Rights Protection Acts, 2009 has been enacted.
Many of our citizens assume that mere existence of law is not sufficient unless its effective implementation is ensured. Where Inspite of having law, the outlaws commit crimes, so in the absence of law what they will do?. So the Legal awareness or law consciousness of the mass people can play a substantial role at least not in eradicating but in preventing those heinous and inhuman offences which are relating to human health and foods.
According to The Consumers’ Rights Protection Act, 2009, a consumer includes firstly one who without re-selling for commercial purpose buys any goods, secondly one who buys any goods or uses it commercially for the purpose of earning his livelihood by means of self-employment and finally one who hires or in any other means avails of any services.
Unfortunately Many of our unscrupulous businessmen are involved in anti-consumer rights practices which means and includes to sell or offer to sell adulterated goods or medicine knowingly, to sell any goods containing any ingredients which is extremely injurious to human health, to provide any services at a higher price than the fixed price, to deceive consumers by untrue and false advertisement, to sell less quantity of foods than the actual weight, to make and manufacture any fake goods and medicine, to sell any goods or medicines, the date of which has been expired and so on.
In every legislation, there is someone like authority who is empowered to execute the law and to monitor, punish the offenders under the law, but they are beyond the reach of the common people of the country. Under the provisions of the said Act , there is a Directorate office to be called as the Directorate of National Consumers’ Rights Protection and there is also a post of D.G, I mean Director General in charge of the said Directorate who is responsible to carry out the purposes of the said Act. The Director General is bound by law to take all necessary measures as he deems expedient and necessary for the protection of the Rights of the consumers and prevention of anti-consumer rights practices and disposal of the complaints regarding the violation of the rights of the consumers.
Not only that, he is also bound to monitor whether the standard and quality of goods or services by the provider is being maintained or not and will take necessary actions to monitor whether any goods or medicine are being adulterated, to monitor whether any expired goods or medicines are being sold, to monitor whether any fraud is committed in respect of weight, to monitor whether consumers are being deceived by false advertisement for selling goods or services and take necessary actions as well. Even he has the power under this Act to issue warrant, to seize contaminated goods and to pass order for temporary closure of any shop, commercial enterprise etc for any anti-consumer rights practices.
According to Section 29 of the Act, there is strict prohibition on manufacturing, selling of goods injurious to human health. And according to Section 41,if any person knowingly sells or offers to sell any adulterated goods and medicines, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extent up to 3 years and fine of taka 2 lacs. And if any person deceives any buyer by any false or untrue advertisement for the purpose of selling any goods or services, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to 1 year and fine of taka 2 lacs. And not only that if any person sells any goods to consumer less than the offered measurement and weight, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to 1 year also and fine of taka 50 thousand. And if any person sells any date expired goods or medicine, he shall also be inflicted same punishment of 1 year imprisonment and fine of take 50 thousand.
Finally offences of the said nature under this Act shall be tried by the Magistrates and they will ensure proper punishment of the offences and proper administration of justice. The offenders will also be given opportunity of being heard and explained before inflicting such punishment.
It is to be kept in mind that, Apart from the legal punitive approach, there is also a moral duty vested upon the businessman to abstain from committing these sorts of heinous offences which are injurious to human health As well as stringent and exemplary punishment should be inflicted upon the perpetrators to save human life and health and for ensuring the implementation of proper administration of justice.
The writer is Zahid Ahmed Hero, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, presently working as Assistant Attorney General For Bangladesh. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org