Deprivation of consumer rights and its punishment -Sukanta Das
A consumer is a person who buys goods or services without a resale and commercial purpose, at a price or under the promise of payment. And the right to purchase goods or services in the right way is the right of the consumer especially the people of the country who buy goods for money, receive medical services, travel in vehicles, they are all consumers. In a word, everyone in the country is a consumer because everyone buys the products and services in one way or another.
The Consumer Rights Act is there to protect consumers from the vicious cycle. In our country, consumer rights are constantly being deprived in various ways. At present traders are taking different prices of oil in different parts of the country. The artificial crisis in the market and the increase in prices happen every year in the country. In the midst of the pandemic, the price of onion which is 25-30 take per kg has become 300-400 taka at one time due to the conspiracy of some unscrupulous traders. It goes against the consumer rights.
Unscrupulous traders increase the prices of daily necessities every year before the month of Ramadan. They do not value the price of various things set by the government. He does not care about the government’s decision. It affects ordinary middle and lower class people every year. The government had decided to take half of the passengers in public transport and increase the fare by 60 per cent during the period when the corona infection was on the rise. But the one who has taken twice as much as three times the rent. Besides, during Eid, when people flock to the village, some unscrupulous people increase the rent of vehicles as they wish. It happens every year. And misuse of bus authorities and employees with passengers in public transport for collecting fares is a daily occurrence. Students are the most abused. Many times they are harassed in different ways. Rail tickets are black market. That is why passengers often do not get tickets.
The condition of the country’s hospitals is even worse. At the Diagnostic and Clinic Center, storage of expired drugs, non-renewal of licenses and non-disinfection of surgical instruments are some of the major problems facing patients. Besides, there is more money to be kept in any exam. The price of medicines is also kept high depending on the people. Numerous bakeries and food factories have sprung up all over the country. In these places food is prepared in unhealthy environment and there is no writing about the production and duration of such food. That is why people often get sick after eating these foods. Restaurants have sprung up in the alleys. These restaurants also serve stale food for a few days. Many times shopkeepers misbehave with buyers.
The food shops and restaurants in the vicinity of the universities located in Muffsball are in a very bad condition. They often mix stale food with good food for a few days and then increase the price of food as they desire.
Consumer rights work in all countries of the world. If the consumer acts against the rights, he has to be punished. Knowing an incident in America in the nineties, one can understand how much the developed countries are very careful about consumer rights. In 1994, an American woman named Isa Lisbeck had to pay for the burning of 50 cents of McDonald’s coffee! Just for giving coffee over normal temperature. But in our country, a class of unscrupulous traders is constantly working against the consumer rights.
In 2009, the Government of Bangladesh passed the Consumer Protection Act 2009, the most popular response of the people. Laws have been passed and in some cases are being enforced but there is no way to stop unscrupulous traders. There are a total of 72 sections in the Consumer Rights Act enacted in 2009. There are also several subsections.
If a person violates the obligation under Section 37 to sell a product in a packaged manner and to clearly state the weight, quantity, material, usage, maximum retail price, date of manufacture, date of packaging and expiry date of the product on the package; he shall be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year, or a fine not exceeding fifty thousand rupees, or both.
Any person who violates the obligation imposed by law or regulation under section 39 and fails to maintain the service price list of his shop or organization and does not display such list in the relevant place or in an easily visible place, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one thousand rupees, or a fine not exceeding fifty thousand rupees. Both will be punished.
According to section 40, if a person offers to sell or sell any product, medicine or service at a price higher than the price fixed under any law or regulation, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or a fine not exceeding fifty thousand rupees, or both.
Section 42 prohibits the use of any food or adulteration of any food or substance which is harmful to human life or health. Any person who mixes such food with any food product shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or a fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or both will be punished.
Pursuant to section 51, a person who sells or offers to sell an expired product or medicine shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand rupees, or to both.
Anyone can sue the Consumer Rights Protection Council if they are deceived into buying a product or service. And the process is very simple.
Complaints can also be made directly to the Department of Consumer Protection through email. The e-mail should include the name of the complainant, name of parents, address, phone, number of national identity card, details of the accused organization and incident and attested picture of receipt of purchase of goods.
Anyone can lodge a complaint by calling 017536 and 031-641212. After the investigation, if the evidence of the allegation is found, 25 per cent of the fine will be paid to the complaining consumer. However, the complaint must be filed within 30 days of purchase of the product. There are consumer rights laws. Authorities are also trying to ensure that consumer rights are not taken away. But dishonest people are not going to be suppressed in any way. This will not be done only by law and justice. Awareness of people of all walks of life is needed to uphold consumer rights. The government should create awareness among the general public about consumer rights through the Consumer Rights Council. Only then will food be free from adulteration and consumers will get proper service.
The author of this article is a student of Islamic University, Kushtia.