Who is a consumer, for example, is an essential question that emerges here. Simply put, “any human being who consumes something for the purpose of survival is a consumer.” However, different sources have described it in different ways. In “Black’s Law Dictionary,” a consumer is defined as “a natural person who consumes items for personal rather than business purposes; a person who buys goods or services for individual, family, or household use, without the intention of resale.”
A person who buys a from a consideration that has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised to be paid or under any system of deferred payment including hire purchase and leasing, and includes any user of such goods, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose; or Hires any goods or services for a consideration that has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised to be paid or under any system of deferred payment including hire purchase and leasing.
After the emergence of Pakistan in 1947, several consumer protection laws were promulgated and different institutions were established to provide redress and relief to consumers. Two consumer protection non-governmental organizations are also working, mainly in the urban areas.
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Pakistan is a developing country. In this country the Purchasers are the most helpless class of individuals, as a result of the absence of fitting comprehension of their rights and lawful cures; and mostly, the difference in the Consumer Protection Laws in vogue in the Federal capital and all the four Provinces i.e. Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In the blink of an eye, the Islamabad Capital Territory and additionally all the four Provinces have their particular Consumer Protection statutes to be specific the Islamabad Consumer Protection Act 1995, the N.W.F.P Consumer Protection Act 1997, the Baluchistan Consumer Protection Act 2003, Punjab Consumer Protection Act 2005, and the Sindh Consumer Protection Ordinance 2007. This article will help us to understand the concept of consumer law and what are the main challenges confronted by the courts in the implementation of this law.
In a country like Pakistan where even the basic rights of citizenship are frequently contested before the courts, consumer protection is rather a more problematic and neglected category. As the present review of legislation reveals, the treatment of the consumer in Pakistan varies from complete exclusion to only partial accommodation in the legislative scheme.
The Right to Safety
It’s a consumer’s basic right to feel protected from harmful goods and services available in the market. Especially if those goods or services are used appropriately for desired purposes Consumers should be protected from the flow and sale of hazardous products and services.
The Right to Choose
Competition is the main factor in avoid monopolizes the market. Consumers should have a choice of worthy goods and services. They need to be sure that intended goods and services are available at a competitive cost. It indicates that consumers must have the option to go for the products or services that they want to get.
The Right to be informed
Consumers must have access to sufficient information about products to make an informed decision. Dependable sources should be available to aware of different goods or services
The Right to be heard
Governments have the obligation to protect consumer rights by giving them reasonable consideration in strategy making. The state is also responsible to ensure justice without delay upon any claim. In simple words, it is a consumer’s right to protest when there are issues or apprehension (Wilson, 2008). It is a consumer’s right that he be heard when he raises his voice and to anticipate positive remedies.
The Right to Redress or Remedy
It’s a settled legal maxim “Ubi jus ibiremidiam” which means there is no wrong without a remedy. Simply mean that whenever a right is infringed there shall be a remedy for that. The UN guidelines for consumer protection recognized the right to redress by raising their voice for his dissatisfaction.
The Right to Service
By “right to service” it is meant that the consumer should have access to all the necessary goods and services which are essential for life. Its consumer’s basic right to expect convenience, respectful treatment, a proper response to his needs, and good quality in a product and also expect a humble behavior in the market or other organization. G) The Right to Environmental Health:
Living in a healthy environment is an essential consumer right to subsist and work in an atmosphere where the comfort of present and future generations is not compromised. Consumers must be safeguarded from the impacts of an unhealthy environment that may be the result of daily marketplace operations.
The Right to Consumer Education
The consumer has the right to be educated about his rights available under national and international laws. Consumer awareness ensures the enjoyment and protection of rights. Consumer education is vital for making an informed decision. It develops and enhances the knowledge and skills that are required to make an informed decision.
Food Sector Legislation
Pakistan does not have a well-integrated legal framework to protect the consumer of food products. However, there are certain laws regarding food quality and standards. Though these were passed many years before, they can be very effective if properly enforced. The Pure Food Ordinance, 1960 binds all importers, manufacturers, and resellers to comply with its provisions regarding the manufacturing, processing/preparation, packaging, labeling, consignment, delivery, and standard of quality of food items.
There are separate stipulations for products such as margarine, banaspati2, and fat. This Act also set rules for the appointment of analysts and inspectors to enforce the Ordinance within their jurisdiction. Various penalties and procedures have also been specified in the law. The Pakistan Hotels and Restaurants Act was enacted in 1976.
Its purpose is to provide procedures for regulating the standards of service and facilities in hotels and restaurants. It prohibits the sale of food and beverages which are injurious to health or which are contaminated due to the lack of cleanliness in the hotel.
The owner or manager is required to undertake scientific tests of water, food and other articles of human use to ensure they conform to health and hygiene standards. The authorized officer can at any time inspect the quality of foodstuff and other appliances. It mandates a hotel to get a license and registration before operation.
The law is limited because it does not provide procedures for lodging a complaint in case of injury to a consumer nor does it state compensation due to him. Though Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) Act, 1996 cannot be characterized exclusively as a food law, it provides for standardization and quality control services that are related to the health and safety of food. This Act provides for necessary measures for the testing of products and services for their quality, and specifications.
It also regulates the quality labeling standards which shall state ingredients, performance, specification, usage, methods, and other relevant quality control matters. It also prohibits the manufacture, sale, and storage of any article including food items that do not conform with quality.