Consumer protection laws are designed to ensure fair competition and the free flow of truthful information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors and may provide additional protection for the weak and those unable to take care of themselves. Consumer Protection laws are a form of government regulation which aim to protect the interests of consumers. For example, a government may require businesses to disclose detailed information about products—particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food.
Consumer protection is linked to the idea of “consumer rights” (that consumers have various rights as consumers), and to the formation of consumer organizations which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace. Consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing.  Consumer interests can also be protected by promoting competition in the markets which directly and indirectly serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency, but this topic is treated in Competition law.
Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government organizations and individuals as consumer activism. Consumer law “Consumer protection law” or “consumer law” is considered an area of law that regulates private law relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell those goods and services. Consumer protection covers a wide range of topics, including but not necessarily limited to product liability, privacy rights, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation, and other consumer/business interactions.
Such laws deal with credit repair, debt repair, product safety, service and sales contracts, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy and much more. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 The Act enshrines all the consumers’ rights which are internationally accepted. As per the Act, the consumer protection councils have been established at Central, State and District levels to promote and protect the consumer rights.
They are: * Right to Safety: To be protected against the sale of goods and services which are spurious/hazardous for the life. * Right to Information: To know the quality, quantity, weight and the price of goods/services being paid for, so that one is not cheated by unfair trade practices. * Right to Choose: To be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices. * Right to be Heard: To be heard and to be assured that the interest would receive due consideration at appropriate fora. Right to Seek Redressal: To seek legal redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practices or exploitation. * Right to Consumer Education: To have access to consumer education. At present there are 35 State Commissions, one in each State/UT and 571 district forum besides the National Commission. The state governments are responsible to set up the district forum and the State Commissions. States have been empowered to establish additional District Forum and also additional members in the State Commission to facilitate constituting benches and also for holding circuit benches.
The Central Government is required to set up the National Commission. It has been empowered to appoint additional members to facilitate creation of more benches and holding of circuit benches. The second bench of the National Commission started functioning from 24 September 2003. The government is monitoring the disposal of cases by the consumer courts through National Commission. Since its inception and up to March 2004, 32,910 cases were filed out of which 24,974 cases disposed of in the National Commission.
Similarly 3,01,485 cases were filed and 1,97,797 cases disposed of in the State Commissions and 18,86,236 cases were filed and 16,46,698 cases disposed of in the district forum. Overall 18,69,469 cases have been disposed of out of 22,20,631 cases filed with a remarkable disposal rate of 84. 2 per cent. The government has declared 24 December as ‘National Consumer Day’, since the President gave his assent on that day to the enactment of the historic Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Besides this, 15 March is observed as ‘World Consumer Rights Day’ every year. .