Dimapur, July 15 (EMN): Consumers in Nagaland are not aware of their rights provided by the Consumer Protection Act, or to seek resolution from redress forums and mechanisms that have been established.
Consumers have suffered various grievances but have kept silent. This encourages the other party to take advantage of them.
These statements were made by an official of the legal services during a consumer rights publicity programme that was conducted on July 15 in Kohima town.
The event was conducted in the district planning and development board’s (DPDB) conference hall in the capital town.
Longshi Ezung, member-secretary of the Nagaland Legal Services Authority (NLSA) also addressed the event. Speaking as the resource person, he said that the Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 1986 with the objective of providing better protection of consumers’ interest.
According to the Act, he said, a consumer is one who purchases goods or services for use. The user of such goods or services with the permission of the buyer is also a consumer.
Ezung pointed out that the consumer has rights provided by the Act. The resource person explained that the consumer has the Right to Safety, for instance. Consumers should be protected against products that are hazardous to life and property, he said.
Likewise, there are other rights: There is the Right to Information where the consumer should be informed about the product packaging; Right to Choose where the consumer has the right to select any goods or services when he buys it and should not be pressured into buying or using only one product or service and monopolistic practices are not legal; Right to be Heard where a consumer has a right to complaint against his purchased product if found dissatisfied, which should be addressed in an appropriate time frame; Right to seek redress where the consumer has the right to get the product replaced, compensated or refund of the price paid in case of the product unable to satisfy the consumer.
Further, Ezung pointed out that the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was enacted to provide simpler and quicker redress to consumer grievances.
“The agenda of the consumer forum is to provide relief to both parties and discourage long litigation. When there is a defect in goods or deficiency of service the following can file a complaint: A consumer, any registered consumer association, the central government, any state government and one or more consumers on behalf of numerous consumer who have the same interest.”
Further, Ezung said that a consumer can also file a complaint when there is a defect in goods and deficiency of service.
“This is because the general public is not aware of the rights provided by the Consumer Protection Act. All of us being consumers have suffered some sort of grievances and have kept silent, letting the other party take advantage of our silence,” Ezung said. He urged people to step forward and use their rights by making use of redress forums in case of consumer violations.
Aggrieved consumers can approach any of these forums or commissions accordingly: District forum – if the goods or services and compensation asked for does not exceed INR 20,000,000; state commission – if the goods or services and compensation asked for is more than INR 20,000,000 but less than one crore; and the national commission – if the goods or services and compensation asked for is more than one crore.
The NLSA official added that the complaint must be filed within two years from the date on which cause of action arose. The consumer can represent himself before the forum without engaging a lawyer while filling a complaint, the updates stated.
“The state of Nagaland has the district forum as well as the state commission already set up but the number of complaints received is few in number. And this is because the general public is not aware of the rights provided by the Consumer Protection Act,” he said.
“All of us being consumer have suffered some sort of grievances and have kept silent, letting the other party take advantage of our silence,” Ezung told the gathering.
The advisor for Rural Development Dr. Neikiesalie Kire was the guest of honour at the event, the updates stated.
‘Every LPG consumer has insurance. However most of the consumers are not aware of it,’ the legislator told the gathering. He requested the departments to ‘check details if the benefits are available.’ He said that the programme was an opportunity for the board members to be “enlightened first on the rights of the consumer ‘what can be done and what cannot be done’” under the Consumer Protection Act.
The legislator has requested the officials not to “keep it within themselves but to create awareness in their own ways across different people, colonies and villages in the district.” Also, he urged the people to publicise consumer rights individually too.
The president of the Kohima Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Medozhatuo Rutsa also spoke about various issues in regard to consumer protection which directly or indirectly affect the public.
Further, he said big businesses destroy small businesses and policy makers need to look into these mattes, so that small businesses develop and grow.
Saying that many laws are broken because of businesses that sprout at whim, he urged the government to come up with a policy to address the issue. Also, he spoke about the domination of “illegal Bangladesh Immigrants” in business throughout the state particularly Dimapur. He urged policy makers to review if there is any law that limits such systems.
The department of Information and Public Relations (IPR) also issued additional inputs. According to the IPR, Rutsa felt that “our rights and policy should be maintained where legal matters can be put in order to protect the consumer.”
He was stated to have expressed hoped that the policy-making agencies or the state government would come up with ‘some good policy’ in order to address ‘the issues which our people were facing today.’
The programme was organised by the office of the Assistant Controller of Legal Metrology & Consumer Protection of Kohima, the development board and the Kohima District Legal Service Authority. (With inputs from the IPR)