Protection of the Consumer Rights in Bangladesh
Subject: Marketing | Topics:

Introduction

Bangladesh is a small country with a huge population. Perhaps it is the country with largest consumer comparing its small area. Though in many sectors Bangladesh improves but it is matter of sorrow that after 40 year of independence consumer rights are yet been introduced in a significant manner in Bangladesh. Though there is lot of organization working for human rights in Bangladesh but no organization except Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) working for consumer rights. But consumer rights are integral parts of human rights. As a student of law we know that consumer is treated as king to marketer. In developed country we see that consumer is very much honored.
But in Bangladesh we see that consumer is treated negligently. Consumer rights are abused almost every sector in Bangladesh. I am writing some common scenario about how the consumer rights are violated in our country.

Statement of problem

There was no specific law in Bangladesh for a long time on the protection of consumer’s rights. In 2008 the non-party care-taker Government passed an ordinance in this regard. The present Government has enacted a consumer rights protection Act 2009 on April 06, 2009 without giving approval to the previous ordinance.

Therefore we can see that, the consumer protection Act 2009 provides that only competent Government officers are entitled to institute a case against the culprit for violation of such laws. A common consumer can not initiate any legal action against him except lodging a complaint to the department concerned. No court shall take cognizance if charge sheet is not submitted within 90 days from the date of complaint. Due to these legal flaws consumers are not duly protected. Therefore, these legal flaws are to be removed with a view to enabling the consumers to institute suit in a court of law identifying the violation of law.

In Bangladesh there is no mechanism through which the provisions of the laws, made to safeguard the rights and interests of the consumers, can be placed and explained to them in a simple and impressive manner.

The Government machineries from implementing point of view are very weak. As the Government machineries do not work smoothly, so non-Government organization should come forward with a program of helping the consumers.

There is no political commitment and program as regards the protection of consumers. In some cases political parties can take help, subscription from the businessman, traders, industrialists, who in return hoard goods create artificial crises in the market and earn unlimited profits at the costs of suffering of the general electors.

It may be mentioned that, in Bangladesh some of non-Government organizations with regard to protection of consumers have been established and they have been campaigning movement for the legal protection of consumers, for some cases giving help in the way of legal aids.

Objective of research

I have observed the objects for my research as under the following:-

  • Ø To clarity the concept of consumer and consumer protection.
  • Ø To indentify the legal problems related the protection of consumer rights.
  • Ø To evaluate the measure for enforcement of consumer rights.

Research methodologies

To collect the information and data have been used both sources. Primary source includes face to face interview with consumers and secondary source consists such as journals, brochures and web-side also.

Sources and Materials

These information and data have collected from both sources, primary and secondary sources.

As a primary source, I have taken an interview with a consumer.

And secondary source are books, journals, newspaper, constitution, the protection of consumer rights Act, 2009. The Penal Code, 1860. Special Power Act, 1974. Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930. Trade Mark Act, 1940. Standers of Weight and measurement ordinance, 1980. Sale and Goods Act, 1930. Role of Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB).

Scope and Limitation

It is now generally accepted that consumer policy and consumer protection are concepts closely interlinked. The scope and limitation of consumer protection are quite vast and engulfs even newer interests and aspects. The consumer rights protection act, 2009 states in section 2(20) some “acts against consumer rights” that means:

  • Ø Selling or offering to sale at a price higher than the price prescribed by any law or rule, any product, medicine or service.
  • Ø Knowingly selling or offering to sale any adulterer product or medicine.
  • Ø Deceiving people in general by false and untrue advertisement with the purpose of selling and product or service.
  • Ø Not to sell or supply property the product or service as promised in exchange price.
  • Ø To use any false weight or false measure of length or capacity as excessive weight or measure from what it is at time of sell or supply of any product in any business institute.
  • Ø To give fewer products at time of sell or supply as it was promised.

 Importance of Research

The protection of consumer rights is very important topic, as a new law. The customers are not conscious about their rights. And they has no any knowledge or idea of consumer rights.

So it must be very useful and helpful for consumers, to research the protection of consumer rights.

When the consumers or customers will be known with their rights they never suffer a loss but they will may overcome any loss or injury of purchasing products.

Review of Literature

It has need various kinds of books that’s review of literature is shown under bellow:-

  • Ahamuduzzaman and Syeda Shamsia Husain, Consumer Protection Law, Law Book Company, Dhaka, 2011.

This book contains several concept of consumer rights and product safety, development of consumer protection law in various countries. Consumer rights protection: Bangladesh perspective, legal and religious perspective and principle of halal and haram in Islamic law.

  • The Protection of Consumer Rights Act, 2009. Published by the Government on april 06, 2009.

This book contains about law of consumers and consumer’s rights.

  • Constitution of Bangladesh, the ministry of law, published by the parliament.

This book is mother of law; it contains fundamental principle of state policy and fundamental rights of citizens, and also several articles.

  • Mr. L. Kabir, The Penal Code, 1860. Ain prokashani , Dhaka, 2009.

This book has the penalty of offence, it is also substantive law.

The books are not sufficient for research, it is needed more and more another source, website is one of source for research.

To clarity the concept of consumer and consumer protection

 Introduction

Consumer is a person who is not directly involved in a trade, but receives goods and services from a person who is occupied in the business. To keep the business profitable and legal, some policies have been established by the government to create a balance between profit and quality. Such policies are largely about goods and services, supplied to the consumers or customers, who wish to purchase or hire goods and/or services from the sellers or manufacturers. I have discussed in this chapter about the concept of consumers and consumer protection.

Definition of consumer

A consumer or “Buyer” is defined as “one, who buys, uses, maintains and disposes of products and/or services” and although, many may still be familiar with the doctrine of “Let the Buyer Beware” this is no longer the case with the advent of Consumer Protection law.

In the opinion of Professor Ulf Bernitz, leading Scandinavian expert on consumer law, the most sophisticated of the term ‘Consumer’ at present to be found in the Consumer Sales Act of 1973.[1]  This Act renewed in 1991, is applicable “Where a consumer buys from merchant goods in the course of the merchant’s professional activities.” This definition is also applicable to consumer services where they are intended mainly for private purposes rather than private use.

In the UK, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulation 2008 states that “commercial practice” means any act, omission, course of conduct, representation or commercial communication (including advertising and marketing) by a trader, which is directly connected with the promotion, sale or supply of a product to or from consumers, whether occurring before, during or after a commercial transaction (if any) in relation to a product.

“Consumer” means any individual who in relation to a commercial practice is acting for purposes which are outside his business.

 Section-2 (19) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2009 in Bangladesh states the definition of consumer.

“Consumer” means such type of person:

a)     Who except for the purpose of resale and commercial intention.

i)                   Purchases or agrees to purchase any product by payment of a price.

ii)                Purchases or agrees to purchases by part payment of price.

iii)              Purchases with the promise of paying price in extended term or by installments.

b)    Who uses the product purchased under clause (a) with the consent of the purchaser.

c)     Who, after purchasing a product, uses it commercially for the purpose of making a living  self –employed.

d)    Who,

i)                   Hires or receives otherwise any service by payment or promises to pay the price.

ii)                Hires or receives otherwise any service by part payment or promises to pay partly the price.

iii)              Hires or receives otherwise any service by paying the price in an extended term or by installments.

e)     Who consumers the service received under clause (d) with the consent of the service consumer.

Who is a consumer?

A consumer is anyone ranging from the cradle (a baby) tothe tomb (till the person dies); from the Prime Minister of a country to the labourer on the street. In simple words, the persons who uses or consumes products or services are consumers. In the eyes of law, a person is required to fulfill certain conditions to be regarded as a consumer. Consumers are those persons who, for oneself or for the dependants, buy or use or obtain a permission to use any products or service by offering a price, prompt or due or in installments. In addition, any person using such products with the consent of the buyer will also be treated as a consumer. But if someone buys something for the purpose of resale or for any other commercial purposes, he or she shall not be a consumer as such. Personal consumpion is the main test for defining oneself as a consumer. Under CRPA 2009, a person who buys goods to earn a livelihood by ‘self-employment’ (though in a commercial scale) also falls within the definition of a consumer.

 Although it may be difficult for a seller to decide whether a purchaser is a consumer or not it depends on the purchaser’s intention in buying the goods for him. It is said that consumer protection is the achieved or intended result of consumer policy.

Consumer protection and consumer law

It is now admitted that the law as it stands does not give sufficient protection to the consumer. As a matter of fact, the term consumer is by origin an economic concept and until quite recently, it was simply foreign to legal usage and conceptualization. However, with the growing realization of the need for special legislation for the protection of consumers and only consumers, it become important to give the term ‘consumer’ a fixed legal meaning.

 Consumer protection consists of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade 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 aims to protect the rights 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 and get help with consumer.

Other organizations that promote consumer protection include government organizations and self-regulating business organizations such as consumer protection agencies and organizations, the Federal Trade Commission, ombudsmen, Better Business Bureaus, etc.

A 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.

 What is Consumer Rights Law?

 This legal area encompasses a large body of laws enacted by the government to protect consumers by regulating many of the following business transactions and practices: advertising, sales and business practices; product branding; mail fraud; sound banking and truth in lending; quality produce and meats; housing material and other product standards; and all manner of other types of consumer transactions. Some states also regulate door-to-door sales, abusive collection practices and referral and promotional sales.

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.

Consumer protection laws deal with a wide range of issues including credit repair, debt repair, product safety, service and sales contracts, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy.

 Aspects of consumer protection

There are three aspects of consumer rights protection, which every country must consider.

 First, the aspect of ‘voluntary protection’ which means that consumer’s hemselves would voluntarily set up associations and/or organizations to safeguard their own rights and interests. These associations/organizations generally work as pressure groups on the government for consumer rights issues. There are many such voluntary organizations in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other countries of the world. In Bangladesh, the Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh (CAB) was established in 1978.

 Second, the aspect of ‘institutional protection’. By establishing national institutions to safeguard and promote consumer rights of citizens this aspect of consumers’ protection can be ensured. For example, in 1914 the Federal Trade Commission, in 1927 the Food and Drug Administration and in 1970 the National High Traffic Administration were set up in the USA; the United Kingdom established the office of Director-General of Fair Trading; Sweden set up the Consumer Agency KOV and Consumer Ombudsman KO; India established National Consumer Protection Council, various State Consumer Protection Councils, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission with State Commissions and District Forums; Pakistan set up the Islamabad Consumer Protection Council; Sri Lanka and Nepal set up the office of the Commissioner of Internal Trade and the Consumer Protection Council respectively.

 Third, the aspect of ‘statutory protection’, which can be guaranteed by enacting relevant laws for protecting the rights and interests of the consumers. Many countries of the world, including those in Asia, have already enacted comprehensive laws in this regard. For example, the Consumer Protection Fundamental Act 1968 in Japan, Consumer Protection Act 1979 in both Thailand and Sri Lanka, Consumer Protection Act 1986 in India, Consumer Act of the Philippines 1990 in the Phillippines, Islamabad Consumers Protection Act 1995 in Pakistan, Consumer Protection Act 1998 in Nepal, The Law on Consumer Protection 1999 in Indonesia and Consumer Protection Act 1999 in Malaysia were enacted. However, Bangladesh is yet to enact such a comprehensive Consumers Protection Act.

 Current status of legal protection to consumers in Bangladesh

 It has already been mentioned that the current system of legal protection to the consumers in Bangladesh is inadequate and outdated. Further whatever little laws are available, they are not strictly enforced for the protection of the rights of the general consumers. The consumers in Bangladesh are thus deprived of their rights at every sphere of their lives.

 The Constitution of Bangladesh, under its ‘fundamental principles of state policy’ part, recognises the rights of consumers to a limited extent. The provisions of consumer protection can be found at Articles 15 and 18 of the Constitution. However, these provisions are mainly focussed on the vital issues of ‘health’ and ‘food’ than on other consumer rights. Moreover, the said provisions are mentioned under the ‘fundamental principles of state policy’ part and not under the ‘fundamental rights’ part of the Constitution. Hence, they remain mostly non-enforceable in the courts of law.

 Further, there are certain legislations, part of which has got direct bearings on consumer protection. For example, sections 264-267, 272-276, 478-483 of the Bangladesh Penal Code 1860, the Poison Act 1919, the Dangerous Drug Act 1930, the Trade Mark Act 1940, the Animals Slaughter (Restriction) and Meat Act 1957, the Special Powers Act 1974, the Standards of Weights and Measures Ordinance 1982, the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute Ordinance 1985, the Narcotics (Control) Act 1990, and the Safe Blood Transfusion Act 2002, etc.

(a) The current laws are faulty and do not meet the present needs;

 (b) Under the existing legal regime, the aggrieved consumers themselves cannot go to the court to sue against the violators. It is only the designated government officials empowered under these laws, who can initiate and sue against the violators.

 (c) The provisions of penalty or punishment under the current laws are so negligible that nobody cares to abide by such laws; and

 (d) Finally, the laws are not effectively enforced.

 IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF THE CONSUMER RIGHTS PROTECTION ACT, 2009:

 i. Liability of seller to third party

Under this Act, the seller or the service provider will be liable not only to the purchaser but also, to those persons who again buy or use the products with the consent of the former buyer. Since the definition of consumer covers such person, it means that the seller is liable to a third party.

 ii. Establishment of the Council (parishad)

Under the Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009, there are Councils at two levels:

a. National level (National Consumer Rights Protection Council)

b. District level (District Consumer Rights Protection Committee) The National Consumer Rights Protection Council may, for purpose of preservation and protection of consumer rights, make appropriate regulations, undertake research, create awareness, and advise the government on policy relating to consumer protection, as well as monitor the activities of the Directorate of Consumer Protection. On the other hand, the District Committees are to implement the rules and regulations adopted by the National Council.

iii. Establishment of Directorate on Consumer Rights

Under the Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009, a Directorate of consumer rights is established in Dhaka. In fact, the principal responsibility to implement this Act rests on this Directorate. The Directorate is headed by a Director General (DG) and to assist him, there will be such staffs as may be necessary. A person may submit complaint of any activity violating consumer rights to the DG or any person authorized by him. To make a complaint to Magistrate or to file a criminal case requires the permission of the DG or of person authorized by him on this behalf. The DG holds power to investigate, to search or to issue summons and warrant. Besides this, he may also issue directives to close any shop or business enterprise engaged in activities that violate consumer rights.

iv. Filing of Complaint

Under the CRPA 2009, no person can file a complaint directly at the Magistrate’s court. A person can file a complaint based on the anti-consumer activities to the Director General of the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate or any other person authorized by him within 30 days of the complained cause of action. Then, within 90 days of the complaint received, the charge has to be filed to the Magistrate court with the approval of the DG.

v. Concurrent Remedy

Apart from filing a criminal case with the Magistrate court, civil remedy can be sought at the civil courts. The civil court is endowed with the jurisdiction to grant proper compensation which would not go beyond the fivefold amount of the actual damage.

vi. Act not in derogation of any other law

The provisions of the CRPA shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force. It would be operative as an additional apparatus with the other laws having consumer implications. This law does not supersede other laws, rather it is said to be applied as a complementary law on the same point. If an anti-consumer activity falls within the ambit of some other rigorous law (for example: Special Powers Act 1974), the complainant would have the option to resort to that law.

vii. Mobile Court

The mobile court has jurisdiction to try offences relating to activities that violate consumer rights. An executive Magistrate runs the mobile court. Besides, the DG has also the same power as an Executive Magistrate to run the mobile court. He has jurisdiction all over Bangladesh. A Magistrate may at once recognize an offence under this Act, if committed in front of him and punish him, on the basis of his confession, with an imprisonment for a period of maximum two years. However, if the offence is serious in nature; he will take steps to file a criminal case in the criminal court.

  Consumer perceived value

Perceived value is consumer’s estimate of the product’s overall capacity to satisfy his or her needs. It is the consumer’s overall assessment of the utility of a product based on perceptions of what is received and what is given or what might be given.

Customer perceived value (CPV) is the difference between the prospective customer’s evaluation of all the benefits and all the costs of an offering and the perceived alternatives.

Total customer value is the perceived monetary value of the bundle or economic, functional, and psychological benefits customers expect from a given market offering.

Total customer cost is the bundle of costs customers expect to incur in evaluating, obtaining, using, and disposing of the given marketing offering.

Customer perceived value

An example will help here. Suppose the buyer for a large construction company wants to buy a tractor from Caterpillar or Komatsu. The competing salespeople carefully describe their respective offers. The buyer wants to use the tractor in residential construction work. He would like the tractor to deliver certain levels of reliability, durability, performance, and resolve value. He evaluates the tractors and decides that Caterpillar has a higher product value based on perceived reliability, durability, performance, and resale value.  He also perceives differences in the accompanying services – delivery, training, and maintenance – and decides that Caterpillar provides better service and more knowledgeable and responsive personnel. Finally, he places higher value on Caterpillar’s corporate image. He adds up all the values from these four sources – product, services, personnel, and image – and perceives Caterpillar as delivering greater customer value.

Does he buy the Caterpillar tractor? Not necessarily. He also examines his total cost of transacting with Caterpillar versus Komalsu, which consists of more than the money. As Adam Smith observed over two centuries ago, “The real price of anything is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. “Total customer cost includes the buyer’s time, energy, and psychic costs. The buyer evaluates these elements together with the monetary cost to form a total customer cost. Then the buyer considers whether Caterpillar’s total customer cost is too high in relation to the total customer value Caterpillar delivers. If it is, the buyer might choose the Komatsu tractor. The buyer will buy from whichever source he thinks delivers the highest perceived customer value.

Now let us use this decision-making theory to help Caterpillar succeed in selling to this buyer. Caterpillar can improve its offer in three ways. First, it can increase total customer value by improving product, services, personnel, and / or image benefits. Second, it can reduce the buyer’s no monetary costs by reducing the time, energy, and psychic costs. Third, it can reduce its product’s monetary cost to the buyer Suppose Caterpillar concludes that the buyer sees its offer as worth $20,000. Further, suppose Caterpillar’s cost of producing the tractor is $14,000. This means that Caterpillar’s offer potentially generates $6,000 over the company’s cost so Caterpillar needs to charge a price between $14,000 and $20,000. If it charges less than $14,000, it won’t cover its costs; if it charges more than $20,000, it will price itself out of the market. The price Caterpillar charges will determine how much value will be delivered to the buyer and how much will flow to Caterpillar.

For example, if Caterpillar charges $19,000, it is creating $1,000 of customer perceived value and keeping $5,000 for itself. The lower Caterpillar sets its price, the higher the customer perceived value and, therefore, the higher the customer’s incentive to purchase. To win the sale, Caterpillar must offer more customer perceived value than Komatsu does.

Some marketers might argue that the process we have described is too rational. Suppose the customer chose the Komatsu tractor. How can we explain this choice? Here are three possibilities:

1. The buyer might be under orders to buy at the lowest price. The Caterpillar salesperson’s task is to convince the buyer’s manager that buying on price alone wills result inlowerlong-termpofits.

2. The buyer will retire before the company realizes that the Komatsu tractor is more expensive to operate. The buyer will look good in the short run; he is maximizing personal benefit. The Caterpillar salesperson’s task is to convince other people in the customer company that Caterpillar delivers greater customer value.

3. The buyer enjoys a long-term friendship with te Komatsu salesperson. In this case, caterpillars’ salesperson needs to show the buyer that the Komatsu tractor will draw complaints from the tractor operators when they discover its high fuel cost and need for frequent repairs.

The point of these examples is clear: Buyers operate under various constraints and occasionally make choices that give more weight to their personal benefit than to the company’s benefit. However, customer perceived value is a useful framework that applies to many situations and yields rich insights. Here are its implications:

First, the seller must assess the total customer value and total customer cost associated with each competitor’s offer in order to know how his or her offer rates in the buyer’s mind.

Second, the seller who is at a customer perceived value disadvantage has two alternatives: to increase total customer value or to decrease total customer cost. The former calls for strengthening or augmenting the offer’s product, services, personnel, and image benefits. The latter calls for reducing the buyer’s product, services, personnel, and image benefits. The latter calls for reducing the buyer’s costs by reducing the price, simplifying the ordering and delivery process, or absorbing some buyer risk by offering a warranty.[3]

Concept of consumer rights protection Law

According to a leading European author on the subject, consumer law comprises “the body of standards, rules and instruments representing the juridical fruit borne by the various efforts that have been made to secure or improve the protection of the consumer on the economic market and to promote the interests of the consumerist” to establish a balance of power between consumers and their economic partners or, probably more realistically, to define the means whereby the existing imbalance can be reduced.

 In a narrower sense, consumer law “focuses mainly on citizens entering transactions to obtain products and services from commercial enterprises.

 It is now accepted in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries that the “legal consumer concept must be confined to private persons who are acquiring goods, services or anything else of value mainly for their own use and not for resale or use in business.

 Importance of the protection of consumer rights

It is now universally acknowledges that the observance of basic human rights is the cornerstone of peace and security for all nations. A consumer right is considered as a basic human rights as part of right to life. Many European countries have already inserted „consumer rights‟ in their constitution for giving special preferences e.g. Spain.

 The constitution of Bangladesh enshrines „right to life‟ as a fundamental right that indirectly protects consumer rights. The constitution also states that it is the fundamental responsibility of the State to ensure the basic necessities of life, including food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care with special regard to public health and morality.

 In this digital era, the world is considered as a global village. So, concern for consumer rights rarely begins or ends at any single nations boundaries, and effective action to protect and promote consumer rights, whether at home or abroad, can be furthered by the imaginative use of national, regional or international techniques. In the European Countries a consumer‟s right is protected through common directives applicable equally for all the EU nations. The World Trade Organizations (WTO) has a great role in regulating trade affairs through different agreements among various nations. The United Nations (UN) has adopted guidelines for the protection of consumer rights.

 It is widely accepted by the scholars that „trade and business‟ relates to the socio-economic and religious conditions of a particular community. Bangladesh, a developing country with over population, is dependant upon the foreign countries for its essential commodities and imports huge quantities of food, cosmetic and essential products every year especially from India, Japan, China, the USA and the EU countries. It has very good relations with the Middle East countries and earns huge foreign exchanges by exporting goods, medicines and apparels.

 The religious prohibition on consumption of some food and food items has a great impact over consumer rights. It is the prime responsibility of the state to ensure all those rights to its citizens.

 So, the importance of the protection of consumer rights carries a great value towards humanity. To ensure security and safety in life, the consumer rights protection related Laws should be effectively enforced. The number of immature and unnatural death will be reduced if the consumer rights are duly ensured. Effective enforcement of consumer rights shall impact widely on economic progress in national and international level. The consumer related laws should be enforced equally for all the citizens irrespective of their nationalism or race, sex, colour, language, religion etc.

 Rights of a consumer

The declaration made by former US President John F. Kennedy in 1962 outlined only four basic consumer rights: (1) the right to safety; (2) the right to be informed; (3) the right to choose; and (4) the right to be heard. Worldwide consumer movement led by Consumers International (CI), a global federation of over 250 consumer organizations, added four more rights: (5) the right to satisfaction of basic needs; (6) the right to redress; (7) the right to education; (8) the right to a healthy environment. Together these eight rights form the basis for current consumers’ movement worldwide.” Now-a-days, consumer rights include more sectors like banking, telecommunication etc. In Bangladesh a lot of laws (around 61 laws, list given below) are prevailing on consumer rights that aims to ensure safety products and security in service.

 In negative sense, a list of consumer rights can be found from the explanation of the term “Acts against consumer rights”.

 Section 2 (20) of the Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009 states that “Acts against consumer rights” mean:

 a) Selling or offering to sale at a price higher than the price prescribed by any law or Rule for any product, medicine or service;

 b) Knowingly selling or offering to sale any adultered product or medicine;

 c) Selling or offering to sale any product which has mixture of any object that is dangerously harmful for human health and mixture of such object with food is prohibited by any Act or Rule;

 d) Deceiving people in general by false and untrue advertisement with the purpose of selling any product or service.

 e) Not to supply properly the product or service as promised in exchange price;

 f) To sale or supply in a weight lesser than that has been promised at the time of such sale or supply;

 g) The scale or instruments of weighing using for sale or supply of any product of a business establishment showing over weight that in actual weight;

 h) Using less than in promised weight in time of sale or supply of a product;

 i) The using ribbon for measuring length in any business establishment showing more length than in actual size;

j) To make or manufacture any counterfeit product or medicine;

 k) To sale or offer to sale any date expire product or medicine;

 l) Commission of any act which is dangerous to the life or safety of the service consumer that is prohibited under any Act or Rule;

 We, therefore, may come to a conclusion that the prevention of the above „acts against consumer rights‟ means to ensure consumer rights.

An overview of the Bangladeshi Laws on the promotion and Protection of consumer rights

The general protection of the consumers may be derived from principles enunciated in Articles- 15x and 18xi of the Constitution. This Articles, though non-justifiable in its nature, indicates the importance attributed to the nutritional status of the people and basic principles and measures for protecting consumers from products, processes and services, which can endanger their health and safety. This constitutional safeguard has been strengthened through promulgation of related laws and regulations so that consumption be proper and appropriate.

 Moreover, in the Constitution of Bangladesh some justifiable fundamental rights are incorporated which are connected with the rights of the consumers. As for examples, Article 32 provides that no person shall be deprived of life save in accordance with law; Article 38 provides that every citizen shall have the right to form associations or unions, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of morality or public order; Article 40 provides that subject to any restrictions imposed by law, every citizen shall have the right to enter upon any lawful profession or occupation, and to conduct any lawful trade or business. These fundamental rights interalia are enforceable by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in accordance with Article 102 read with Article 44 of the Constitution.

 The Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009 provided both civil and criminal remedies. A consumer is entitled to lodge complain to the Consumer Rights Protection Department for any violation of the Act. The DC‟s of different districts can exercise the same power as given to the department. A consumer although barred from filing a direct complains to the police station under the Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009 can file a case to the Police station under other Laws.

 The Bangladeshi laws provides for the establishments of different organizations to protect the rights of the consumers including various Courts or Tribunals such as-

 (i) Consumer Rights Protection Department; (ii) National Consumer Rights Protection Council; (iii) Special Tribunal; (iv) Mobile Court (can work/ function under various Laws; It may be constituted by a special executive order); (v) Drug Court; (vi) Food Special Court; (vii) Ordinary Criminal Courts; (viii) Ordinary Civil Courts; (ix) Marine Courts; (x) BSTI; (xi) Claims Tribunal etc.

Conclusion

An individual who buys products or services for personal use and not for manufacture or resale. A consumer is someone who can make the decision whether or not to purchase an item at the store, and someone who can be influenced by marketing and advertisements. Any time someone goes to a store and purchases a toy, shirt, beverage, or anything else, they are making that decision as a consumer.

To identify the legal problems related the protection of consumer rights

 Introduction

The consumer rights in Bangladesh are protected though the Protection of Consumer Rights Act, 2009 on trade and commerce mechanisms. There are various types of problems in our country. It is identified the legal problems related the protection of consumer rights in this chapter.

Making and selling false weight or measure

Section-266 of the Penal Code also provides that. “ Whoever is in possession of any instrument for weighing, or of any weight, or of any measure of length or capacity, which he knows to be false, and intending that the same may be fraudulently used, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both”[4].

 The Weights and Measures Act 1985 controls how weighing and measuring equipment is used. All this equipment must be tested and stamped for accuracy by a weights and measures inspector before you use it. The most common problem we find relate to using weights and scales which are either not accurate or not stamped, or both.

 It is very important when you buy weights or scales to make sure that the equipment comes stamped with an inspector’s stamp. You should check the equipment regularly to make sure it is accurate.

 Unstamped machines can be stamped and certified by a weights and measures inspector after you have bought them, as long as they are the correct type. Obviously, the machine must pass the examination for accuracy. Some electrical and digital scales are legitimate, but many are not. If you are in doubt, check with your supplier or with Trading Standards.

 It is an offence to:

Use inaccurate equipment for trade; Use unstamped equipment for trade; and Forge, alter or remove our inspector’s stamp. Powers of inspectors Our officers have wide powers, which include the right to: Enter your shop;

Inspect and test weighing equipment; and Seize equipment and documents. Remember you are guilty of an offence if you deliberately obstruct an officer, fail to keep to any requirements or, without good reason, fail to give an officer any other information or help.

price and distribution

To ensure the correct price and distribution of essential commodities in the country so that importers, producers and businessmen may not earn more profits. Under the law the prices of commodities should be attached to them and the list of the price should be hanged in an open place and a receipt for sale of goods must be delivered to the purchaser.

There is no a fixed price on the every goods in our country that’s why the sellers are earning more and more money and losing the buyers.

Selling or using poisonous or dangerous chemicals

There is a prohibition of sale or use of poisonous or dangerous chemicals, intoxicated food, color etc.

No person shall directly or indirectly and whether by himself or by any other person acting on his behalf-

(a)     Use any poisonous or dangerous chemicals or ingredients or additives or substances like calcium carbide, formalin, pesticides (DDT, PCBs oil etc.), or intoxicated food colour or flavouring matter in any food which may cause injury to human body;

(b)     sale any food in which poisonous or dangerous chemicals or ingredients or additives or substances like calcium carbide, formalin, pesticides (DDT, PCBs oil etc.) or intoxicated food colour or flavouring matter has been used in any food which may cause injury to human body.][5]

 The High Court ordered on 28th February 2012 the police to file criminal cases against culprits for using toxic chemical to ripen and preserve fruits and sell them under the Special Power Act.

The maximum punishment for such offence is “death penalty”.

The order comes following a writ petition filed by lawyer Manzill Murshid as public interest litigation on behalf of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh on May 10, 2010 seeking court directives on the government to take steps to stop the use of chemicals in fruits as well as their sale.

Formalin applied on fish, fruit, meat, and milk causes throat cancer, blood cancer, childhood asthma, and skin diseases, while colouring agent Calcium Carbide may lead to cancer in kidney, liver, skin, prostate, and lungs.

The court in its earlier ruling in 2010 asked the government to explain why it should not be directed to take effective measures to protect public health by stopping the use of chemicals in fruits, especially apples, mangoes, grapes, bananas and papayas.

The court had also asked the commerce, food and home secretaries to form a committee to make recommendations to the government to stop the use of chemicals in fruits and submit a report to the court within 15 days. But the respondents did not make any reply to the ruling and order. Between these days, law enforcers and officials of authorities concerned including Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute, market monitoring cell of the commerce ministry used to conduct drives against the perpetrators.

They also destroyed huge amount of adulterated fruits across the country. But since the extent of crime did not go down, the court comes with its fresh directives.

The lawyer said unscrupulous traders use chemicals such as carbide to ripen fruits, and also formalin to elongate their shelf life.

The High Court also asked the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the Customs Department to monitor land and sea ports and test imported fruits to find out whether they are free from chemicals.[6]

The HC said the use of chemicals to ripen and preserve fruits is illegal, and ordered the BSTI and law enforcers to constantly monitor fruit depots across the country to prevent storage or sale of contaminated fruits.

Arsenic phosphorous and the carbide produce acetylene gas

The chemical, it turns out, is Calcium Carbide, and is extremely hazardous to the human body because it contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous. Once dissolved in water, the carbide produces acetylene gas. Acetylene gas is an analogue of the natural ripening agents produced by fruits known as ethylene. Acetylene imitates the ethylene and quickens the ripening process. In some cases it is only the skin that changes colour, while the fruit itself remains green and raw. When the carbide is used on very raw fruit, the amount of the chemical needed to ripen the fruit has to be increased. This results in the fruit becoming even more tasteless, and possibly toxic.

We don’t know what the name of the chemical is but it works like magic,’ he says. ‘Just go to one of the pharmacies in the Dhaka Medical College area and ask for medicine to ripe bananas,’ he adds. Visits to the neighboring warehouses reveal that scores of banana wholesalers are using this same technique to transform cheaply bought unripe banana into a golden cargo, going on to supply it to Dhaka’s ever-growing appetite for sweeter, riper and bigger. Later in the morning, we visit one of the pharmacies in the DMCH area. They won’t say what the chemical is but sure enough, it is cheap and widely available. The chemical, it turns out, is Calcium Carbide, and is extremely hazardous to the human body because it contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous.

Fish in kitchen markets are stored in formaldehyde (used to preserve dead-bodies)

The chemical fertilizer urea is used in our rice to make it whiter, fish in kitchen markets are stored in formaldehyde (used to preserve dead-bodies) to keep them fresh-looking, colours and sweeteners are injected into fruits, and Recent studies by the Food and Nutrition Institute, University of Dhaka, have also found Escherichia coli (E-coli), Salmonella, and Shigella bacteria in restaurant food and street food in the city.

Eating contaminated food may cause diarrhoea, dysentery and other diseases. ‘Finding bacteria is very common in the restaurant foods. But the more alarming thing is that the restaurant owners do not throw out the leftover oil from everyday cooking, using the same oil the next day. As a result the peroxide value of the oil increases and it becomes toxic ultimately

(CAB) — Bangladesh’s only consumer rights group — confirms that wholesalers do indeed use urea fertilizer in rice to make it whiter. Consumers who eat husk paddle processed rice (red rice) will also find themselves cheated, as artificially colored rice is also available in the market, say members of the watchdog. This is common knowledge, they say. ‘While the rice is being processed, they use urea fertilizer in the rice to make it look more attractive, thus increasing its sale value,’ said Miftaur Rahman, a local rice dealer in Kawran Bazar, who claims his products are clean.

Most of the red chilli powder used in the market is adulterated – in most cases the spices are mixed with brick dust. Fine sawdust is also often mixed with cumin and other ground spices, say CAB members. Honey is also frequently adulterated, as lab tests have found sugar syrup is often mixed with honey to enhance the sweetness. Nowadays, pure butter oil and ghee are also very rare in the market. Dishonest traders use a host of ingredients such as animal fat, palm oil, potato mash, and vegetable oil to produce fake butter oil. They even mix soap ingredients like steirian oil with ghee, to increase the proportions.

Rasogolla, kalojaam, and chamcham are the essential delicacies for all festivals in Bengali culture. But food and sanitation officers from the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) say most of these mouthwatering sweetmeats, despite looking attractive in the shop displays, are made with adulterated ingredients and produced in a filthy environment. In a survey conducted by DCC officials found that 100 percent of examined samples of Rasogolla, kalojaam, curds, and sandesh were adulterated. Bangladesh’s Pure Food Ordinance (1959) states that at least 10 per cent milk fat is mandatory in sweetmeat. But in most cases, the percentage of milk fat is not more than five per cent.

Condensed milk

Three years after it first emerged that condensed milk produced by Bangladeshi manufacturers contained little or no milk and was in fact condensed vegetable fat, the companies are continuing to supply their spurious product to the market on the strength of a High Court stay order on legal action against them. ‘Brands like Starship, Danish, Goalini and Kwality are mostly producing condensed milk, which do not satisfy the ‘BDS 896: 1979’ code of the Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institute (BSTI),’ said Shamsuzzoha, Information officer of Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh – Bangladesh’s only consumer rights group.

From the test conducted by the Public Health Institute, it was found that these two brands have a bacterial count level of 76,000 and 25,000, respectively,’ he said. The maximum count of bacteria in a gram of condensed milk is 10,000. ‘Despite the numerous test results, these brands continue to sell their adulterated products taking advantage of the fact that authorities tend to avoid their responsibilities at investigating such products and taking measures in ensuring consumer rights,’ he says. He explains that the ‘BDS 896:1979’ quality insists the need of actual cattle milk be condensed, mixed with sugar, then packaged and sold as condensed milk. According to the criteria, condensed milk should have a composition of 28 per cent solid milk, 8 per cent fat, 40 per cent sugar, 0.3 per cent lactic acid and count level below 10,000 bacteria in every gram of the milk.

The Milk and Dairy Product section committee of BSTI finalized the BDS standard for condensed milk on May 22, 1979. The quality was designed in accordance with the condensed milk manufacturing procedure discovered first by scientist Gail Borden in 1896. The committee had also kept in mind the necessity of the International Standards Organization (ISO) standards while formulating this particular standard. This standard was later approved by the Agriculture and Food Products Divisional Council of BSTI.

‘These condensed milk lack the basic nourishing factors that natural milk has,’ said Zoha. He explained that natural milk consists of 80 to 90 per cent water. The rest includes protein, saturated fat, vitamin and calcium.

The most important element is lactose, a special type of galactic that aids digestion in the human system,’ he explained. The other elements in milk are albumin, globulin, potassium, sodium, iodine and sulphur. ‘All these elements make the consumption of a litter of milk equivalent to the consumption of 21 eggs, 12 kilograms of beef and 2.2 kilograms of bread by a human,’ he said. ‘As most of these brands are using vegetable fat and powdered milk to produce condensed milk, consumers are missing out from the consumption of ‘real’ condensed milk,’ he said. In a report published by CAB in December, 1995 it was found that Danish Condensed milk (Bangladesh) imports 125 metric tons of powdered milk. When tested by the Bangladesh Atomic Energy commission it was found that the radioactivity levels in their milk is much higher than the stipulated limit.

The high court verdict was against the sale and production of this powdered milk. ‘We still cannot tell whether the company abided by the high court verdict,’ says one CAB official. Along with powdered milk, the brands are using Hoyer powder, water, sugar, artificial colour, flavour and vegetable fat to produce condensed milk.

Currently, 7, 68,000 cans of condensed milk are sold daily. ‘The daily demand shows the massive consumption of condensed milk and thus the immense health hazard being faced by the nation,’ says one CAB official.[7]

 Adulteration of food

Adulteration of food is an act of dishonest tradesmen who intend to make maximum profit from minimum investment. Random manufacture of adulterated food unsuitable for human consumption led to a resolve to combat this trend in order to maintain a standard of purity for the preservation of public health. The legal philosophy for protection of the consumers from intake of adulterated food articles resulted in the inclusion of some provisions in the Penal Code, 1860 (Act No. XLV of 1860) making adulteration of food or drink and sale of noxious food or drink punishable under sections 272, 273,274,275 and 276 of the said Code.

The provisions of the penal Code could not, however, effectively control the trend of manufacture and sale of adulterated foodstuff. In subsequent years, widespread evil of food adulteration began to threaten public health. With a view to protecting consumers from the menacing effect of adulterated food articles, Pure Food Ordinance, 1959 (Ordinance No. LXVIII of 1959) was promulgated in 1959. Law Commission in 2006 submitted a report along with draft bill recommending enhancement of punishment prescribed in sections 272, 273,274,275 and 276 of the Penal Code, 1860. The said recommendation is reiterated hereby.

Adulteration of food articles is an offence under the Pure Food Ordinance, 1959 providing minor penalties of different kinds. Taking advantage of such minor penalties the unscrupulous traders started mixing injurious materials with almost every food articles like fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, flour etc. which necessitated an amendment of the Pure Food Ordinance, 1959 in 2005 by the Bangladesh Pure Food (Amendment) Act, 2005 widening definition of adulteration and the scope of the law and also enhancing the punishment of the offences.

Alarming increase of adulteration of foodstuffs created a strong public opinion for combating the ferocity of the offence. There has been a wide circulation of views for controlling different kinds of adulteration of foodstuffs. Mobile courts are now vigilant around the capital and the districts to discover different kinds of food houses, hotels and restaurants which are found to be selling noxious foodstuffs. Electronic media has been giving a wide coverage of various forms of adulteration of foodstuffs consumed by the people at large. Conscious stakeholders have also come forward to express their thoughtful research on the effects of different kinds of adulterated food on human body. Some stakeholders also maintained contact with the Law Commission for making necessary reforms on the laws in force relating to adulteration. Concerned quarters also invited the attention of the Commission for bringing reforms in the Ordinance. Consequently, the Law Commission included Bangladesh Pure Food Ordinance, 1959 (Ordinance No. LXVIII of 1959) in its two-year work plan of 2006-2007 for bringing necessary reforms in the same.

Recently mixture of sodium cyclamate with different articles of food, such as sugar, biscuits and eatables made of sugar has become a cause of  common concern. Sodium cyclamate is a poisonous chemical substance which causes serious injury to human body particularly to the children. Intake of sodium cyclamate may result in the outcome of serious diseases like cancer and ulceration in different parts of human body[8].

Sodium cyclamate has been banned in the developed countries for its harmful effect on human body. So, import of sodium cyclamate should be banned in our country also, because its mixture with food items is very much injurious to public health. Section 6A, of the Bangladesh Pure Food Ordinance, 1959 prohibited the use of different chemical elements in the foodstuffs which cause injury to human body; but despite having harmful effect, sodium cyclamate has not been included therein. In the absence of sodium cyclamate in section 6A, the Mobile Court finds it difficult to punish the traders who are using sodium cyclamate in their food products. As such, inclusion of sodium cyclamate is necessary in section 6A and section 44 of the said Ordinance, by way of a further amendment. We, therefore, recommend the inclusions of sodium cyclamate after the word “formalin” in section 6A and in the Table of section 44.

 WHICH FOOD ITEMS ARE SAID TO BE ADULTERATED?

1. Prepared or stored in an unhygienic environment.

2. Prepared with animal’s diseased meat or vegetables laced with chemicals (ripening agent, pesticides).

3. Prepared by mixing with some intoxicated or injurious ingredients such as brick powder, melamine etc.

4. Prepared by mixing with some banned pigment.

5. Prepared by using excessive dye or color. The consumer society has to foil the deceptive behaviour ofunethical businesses. If  the consumer remains vigilant, the consumer will be assured of quality and safe product. Remember: “Awareness is the key weapon of a consumer”.

various offences against the consumer rights

The offences under the Consumer Rights Protection Act 2009 are liable to be meted out in different forms of punishment.

The law has provided provisions for imprisonment or imposition of fine or both. Depending on the gravity of the offence, the financial penalty ranges from 50, 000 taka to 2 lakhs taka and the imprisonment ranges from 1 year to 3 years. The specific offences and their punishments are shown in Annexure I.

Points to be noted:

• If there is reasonable cause to believe as such that a seller has done something unlawful unknowingly or with bonafide intent, he should not be made liable under this law.

• The owner of a shop is not to be held liable if he has no connection with the marketing or  production of  any adulterated or defective goods.

• No hawker or ferriwala would be responsible for selling any fake or adulterated or defective items unless it is shown that he has done so in order to achieve an unlawful gain.

 Conclusions

Consumer Protection Law in the Bangladesh should be the national special law which specifically protects the interests and safety of end-user using the products or services provided by business operators. Everybody may use or buy any goods peacefully. Our Government should take an action for the consumer rights.

Chapter-4

To evaluate the measure for enforcement of consumer rights

Introduction

In Bangladesh, the people who have to buy the various commodities on sale in the market for their consumption should, at least, according to definition, be called consumers. However, when it comes to the rights that define a consumer in modern parlance, one is really at a loss about how to define the consuming public of Bangladesh. For compared to societies where rights of the consumer folk are duly protected, in Bangladesh they are the neglected lot. In the prevailing situation, the traders, whether retailers or wholesalers exercise and enjoy all the powers, often to the chagrin of the consumers. Such a state of affairs has been going on for too long in Bangladesh. As a consequence, a kind of imbalance has been created in society so much so that the consumer public has been left entirely to the whims and caprices of a section of unscrupulous traders.

How is a consumer protected

To protect consumer rights, the best possible solution is that the consumers must be aware of their rights, work together with consumer organizations, assert against exploitation and seek redress for their grievances. A kind of self-vaccinating culture has to be developed to produce the best harvest from the Consumer Rights Protection Act (CRPA),

 In our country, consumer awareness is low due to the apathy and lack of education among the masses. The efforts to educate them about their rights, quality concerns, price mechanisms, access to justice etc are limited due to varied reasons. The producers of goods and services providers are reluctant to give due consideration to the interest of consumers.

 Why consumer protection is necessary

• The people who dominate the market or run businesses are always in a more advantageous position than the Customers. The customers are often put into a disadvantaged and unequal bargaining situation. Therefore, consumers need to be protected.

• Honesty should govern competitive business enterprises and the maxim ‘buyer be aware’ should not be relied upon to reward fraudulent and deceptive businesses.

• The concept of consumer rights cannot be separated from the human rights perspective.

• Consumer rights are regarded as a facet of ‘social justice’.

• Ralph Nader, pioneer of the American consumer movement said, ‘consumers are the vital force of the economy’.

 “EIGHT LEGITIMATE RIGHTS OF THE CONSUMERS”

1. Right to Satisfaction of Basic needs: Fundamental right according to the Constitution of Bangladesh to have access to food, clothing, education, healthcare, shelter.

2. Right to Safety: protection from hazardous and unsafe products and services.

3. Right to Information: information about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of products and services.

4. Right to Choose: Availability of selection of goods and services from their varieties to justify the quality, cost, preference.

 5. Right to be Heard: raise unhappiness against consumer malpractice; or right to be represented by consumer organizations.

6. Right to Redress: This is the crux of consumer rights. The consumer is entitled to have legal remedy, either monetary or exchange, in case of violation of consumer rights.

7. Right to Consumer Education: to have access to programs and information that helps the consumer to make a better and informed buying decision.

8. Right to Healthy Environment: to live and work in an environment that does not affect consumers’ welfare and health.

 “RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CONSUMER”

• Use the product safely, following all safety instructions and remaining alert for future precautions.

• Choose vigilantly at a fair price.

• Make the effort to seek compensation for a wrong.

• Make choices that minimize the environmental impact of your purchase on others.

• Consume in a sustainable manner, so as not to preventothers from meeting their own needs.

Parties to Consumer Protection

We have realised the need for steps to protect consumer interest. The question is, who will take those steps?  Can consumers alone do it?  Or, should we depend on the government?  Can businessmen do anything?  Actually, for effective consumer protection, it is essential that all the three parties must be involved, that is,

 (a) Consumers; (b) Businessmen; and (c) Government. Let us consider what each of the parties can do:

 (a) We shall agree that self-help is the best help.  So consumers should, as far as possible, take care of their own interest and protect themselves from market malpractices.  For this purpose, it is necessary that they should try to know about their rights and exercise them.  They Business Studies should not depend on the good sense of businessmen.  Consumers have a right to education and also a right to be heard.  They should attend training programmes for consumers arranged by local consumer associations or by their own association and invite consumer activists to speak to them on consumer rights and remedies available under the law to protect them.

(b) As regards businessmen, it is expected that producers, distributors, dealers, wholesalers as well as retailers should pay due regard to consumer rights in their own interest.  They should ensure supply of quality goods and services at reasonable prices.  To prevent unfair practices, associations of  traders, chambers of commerce and industry, and manufacturers’ associations should entertain consumer complaints against their members and take proper action against those guilty of malpractice.

(c) For Government, consumer protection is a responsibility to be undertaken in the general interest of society.  Enforcement of various laws and amending existing laws to protect consumer interests are required to be taken up in the light of viewpoints of consumer associations.  Representations of consumer groups should also be associated with the policymaking bodies set up by government at the centre and the states.  A number of measures have been taken by Government from time to time.

 The laws having consumer protection implication

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.

Consumer protection laws deal with a wide range of issues including credit repair, debt repair, product safety, service and sales contracts, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy.

In the Bangladesh context, the government should reactivate the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and create a consumers corporation for public distribution system. The two bodies can go for local purchase or imports for the purpose. The standards and testing institution needs to be strengthened to oversee product quality. It is also the responsibility of the government to interact with International Organization for Standardization (ISO), FAO and WHO for updating food standards.

Mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts have to be incorporated to help the consumer avoid the hassle of litigation.

The government should make and update the rules for 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, and to the formation of consumer organizations which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace.

The UN guidelines for consumer protection are meant to achieve the following objectives:

a. To assist countries in achieving or maintaining adequate protection for their population as consumers;

b. To facilitate production and distribution patterns responsive to the needs and desires of consumers;

c. To encourage high levels of ethical conduct for those engaged in the production and distribution of goods and services to consumers;

d. To assist countries in curbing abusive business practices by all enterprises at the national and international levels which adversely affect consumers;

e. To facilitate the development of independent consumer groups;

f. To further international cooperation in the field of consumer protection; and

g. To encourage the development of market conditions which provide consumers with greater choice at lower prices.

The UN emphasizes on protection of consumers by facilitating production and distribution, encouraging ethical conduct in production and distribution, facilitating and encouraging formation of consumer groups, international co-operation and development of market condition for greater choice of lower prices.

The government should promote implementation of standards at the national and international levels for the safety and quality of goods and services. National standards and regulations for product safety and quality should be reviewed from time to time, in order to ensure that they conform, where possible, to generally accepted international standards.

The government should ensure the availability of facilities to test and certify the safety, quality and performance of essential consumer goods and services.

Recently Consumer Rights Protection Act 2009 has been enacted in Bangladesh stipulates the establishment of a Central Consumer Protection Council. It requires the government to establish a directorate of consumer right protection to oversee and co-ordinate the consumer protection activities. The consumer protection law made Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act No. V of 1898), Pure Food Ordinance, 1959 and Special Powers Act, 1974, relevant to defining adulteration and hoarding. It allows 90 days to settle a case. The Mobile Court Act has empowered the authorities to issue warrant of search and arrest the erring sellers.

The Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009, a comprehensive law, makes the existing laws relevant for the country’s market economy. It provides for addressing problems and bringing about discipline the market. The seven-chapter law provides for the establishment of a National Consumer Right Protection Council. The law clearly defines consumer offences and stipulates the punishments. But it does not provide for the establishment of separate tribunals or courts to try consumer offences as is the case in some other countries. The courts of first class magistrates or the metropolitan magistrates are empowered to try consumer offences. The law does not enable an aggrieved consumer or a consumers association to go directly to such courts against erring sellers. The aggrieved consumers in Bangladesh can only lodge a complaint to the director general of the consumer directorate within 30 days and then must wait for the directorate to take further action, if required. Obviously, the law leaves the decision to the directorate whether or not to take lodge a complaint against the alleged offenders.

The Consumer Protection Act provides an alternative and inexpensive remedy by way of civil suits. A consumer is not required to pay any court fees or even process fee. Proceedings would be summary in nature and the law stipulates relief to the parties in 90 days. A consumer, not satisfied with the decision of a magistrates court, can go to district court and subsequently the High Court as per civil court procedure.

It allows an aggrieved consumer to move the civil court for claiming ‘monetary compensation,’ which could be five times more than the economic harm suffered. But an aggrieved consumer can only seek the compensation only after the consumer directorate initiates the criminal procedure in the magistrates’ courts. Earlier, aggrieved consumers could directly file damage suits claiming compensations under common law of tort and the much-talked Special Power Act 1974. After enactment of the Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009, the aggrieved consumers would need to wait for the consumer directorate to initiate the criminal procedure before they (the consumer) can move the civil court for the monetary compensation. This provides an advantage to the erring sellers and also possibly creates a scope for misuse of the law.

The law lacks the provision to protect the investor in the share market where the small investors suffer quite often due to willful and non-willful negligence of stock exchange and the Security Exchange Commission (SEC). The non-banking finance companies charge very high cost of service and high rate of interest from the investors without intervention from the regulators.

Also buyers from the ever growing big companies in housing and mobile phone service operators need special protection.

There should be alternate dispute resolution (ADR) for quick disposal of small issues. Separate ombudsmen can do it in areas like those of banking, utilities and other disputes through conciliation and arbitration.

Bangladesh’s public sector bodies, selling products and services, should be made accountable under the consumer’s protection law.

A competition law should be enacted immediately to safeguard the consumers by promoting competition in the market.

NGO and individual’s consumer activism and the local government have roles to play to protect the consumer.

Awareness helps a consumer about his or her legal rights and responsibilities. Unless the law is enforced, there can be no protection of the consumer. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the consumer is not exploited by the seller. It is said that consumer is king, but the consumers are real kings if they are empowered with market information, knowledge of their right, responsibility and privileges and in a competitive market, regulated by the government.

There is a demand for amending the consumer protection law to allow the consumers the right to file case directly to the court. No other country denies the consumer this right. Denial of this right to the consumer can only create mis-trust, leading to an unhealthy market. The UN Charter and Consumers International promote the right to satisfaction of basic needs, the right to redress, the right to education, and the right to a healthy environment for optimum benefit of the consumers.

The awareness of consumers and sellers is more important than the right of litigation. There should be a mandatory provision in the consumers protection law to give the responsibility to create the awareness to the proposed National Consumer Right Protection Council and National Consumer Right Protection Directorate.

 An overview of the Bangladeshi Laws on the promotion and Protection of consumer rights

The general protection of the consumers may be derived from principles enunciated in Articles- 15x and 18xi of the Constitution. This Articles, though non-justifiable in its nature, indicates the importance attributed to the nutritional status of the people and basic principles and measures for protecting consumers from products, processes and services, which can endanger their health and safety. This constitutional safeguard has been strengthened through promulgation of related laws and regulations so that consumption is proper and appropriate.

 Moreover, in the Constitution of Bangladesh some justifiable fundamental rights are incorporated which are connected with the rights of the consumers. As for examples, Article 32 provides that no person shall be deprived of life save in accordance with law; Article 38 provides that every citizen shall have the right to form associations or unions, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of morality or public order; Article 40 provides that subject to any restrictions imposed by law, every citizen shall have the right to enter upon any lawful profession or occupation, and to conduct any lawful trade or business. These fundamental rights interalia are enforceable by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in accordance with Article 102 read with Article 44 of the Constitution.

 The Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009 provided both civil and criminal remedies. A consumer is entitled to lodge complain to the Consumer Rights Protection Department for any violation of the Act. The DC‟s of different districts can exercise the same power as given to the department. A consumer although barred from filing a direct complains to the police station under the Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009 can file a case to the Police station under other Laws.

 The Bangladeshi laws provides for the establishments of different organizations to protect the rights of the consumers including various Courts or Tribunals such as-

 (i) Consumer Rights Protection Department; (ii) National Consumer Rights Protection Council; (iii) Special Tribunal; (iv) Mobile Court (can work/ function under various Laws; It may be constituted by a special executive order); (v) Drug Court; (vi) Food Special Court; (vii) Ordinary Criminal Courts; (viii) Ordinary Civil Courts; (ix) Marine Courts; (x) BSTI; (xi) Claims Tribunal etc.

Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB)

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), is a nongovernment, non-political and non-profit voluntary organization. It was established in February 1978. The association plays a vital role in promoting and protecting consumer rights in Bangladesh. Its main goal is to protect the rights and interests of consumers as well as to educate them on about their rights and responsibilities in order to be a wise consumer. CAB provides legal assistance and advice to consumers whose rights have been violated. In essence, CAB is working towards ensuring consumers and businessmen will have a safe, fair and competitive marketplace.

 The aims and objectives of CAB:

• To generate awareness amongst the consumers on their internationally recognized rights and responsibilities as consumers.

• Encourage and help develop consumer associations and consumer activist groups at the district and rural levels.

• Provide mediation and legal support to aggrieved consumers.

• Undertake research and studies on consumer issues, challenges and problems.

• Developing understanding and partnerships with different groups, associations, institutions, NGOs and government departments and services in furtherance to the welfare of the general consumers in the country.

• To develop and foster contacts and liaison with the national and international organizations having similar objectives.

• Testing products and services regularly to ensure market place is safe and consumer friendly.

 How CAB helps consumers

• CAB has its own complaint cell. An aggrieved consumer, whose right has been violated, may submit a complaint via post, email or in person. After receiving the complaint, CAB investigates the matter and provides redress in the form of settlement through negotiation and mediations between the parties. Legal assistance is sometimes provided to the aggrieved consumers.

• CAB monitors prices of essential goods in the market on regular basis and publishes the price list through media for convenience and knowledge of the consumers.

General Conclusion

 Introduction

Bangladesh is a small country with a huge population. Perhaps it is the country with largest consumer comparing its small area. Though in many sectors Bangladesh improves but it is matter of sorrow that after 40 year of independence consumer rights are yet been introduced in a significant manner in Bangladesh.

Though there is lot of organization working for human rights in Bangladesh but no organization except Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) working for consumer rights. But consumer rights are integral parts of human rights.

As a student of law we know that consumer is treated as king to marketer. In developed country we see that consumer is very much honored.

But in Bangladesh we see that consumer is treated negligently. Consumer rights are abused almost every sector in Bangladesh. I am writing some common scenario about how the consumer rights are violated in our country.

The Government has enacted the Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009 to protect the rights of the consumers. This is a pragmatic approach of the Government to ensure consumer’s right that ultimately ensures right to life.

Major Finding of the study

The major finding of the study is known more and more about the consumer rights in Bangladesh and which consumer’s rights are violated in Bangladesh. That is verifying important for me as a law student. I also learn about the definitions of consumer rights and other important which is related with this topic. I also fined the various laws of the consumer’s rights in Bangladesh and it has many drawbacks. That is lack of enforcement and the laws are not sufficient for protect the consumer’s rights. The lack of education and lack of Security for consumer is the main problem and also the consequence for consumer’s rights. We also find this topic about the various concept of consumer’s rights and sources of law, its elements. I also recommended some significant steps for the problem of my research topic.

Thus, we may conclude that consumer protection is a large area, covering a diverse range of laws and policies. It includes such topics as the regulation of market-place relations (contract terms, advertising), the establishment of health and safety standards for products sold to consumers, and regulation of the provision of certain services (credit, professions, public services etc.). In short, consumer protection law is designed to protect citizens/consumers against injuries though to occur in unregulated markets.

 Suggestions

The suggestion of my legal research is how to increase  the consumer’s rights and how to protect the consumer’s rights in Bangladesh. That’s discussed in the research now here stated the key point there as follows. This enumeration of the types of action needed to promote consumers interests provides an accurate indication of the fields in which consumer law should come to play, foremost among which are:

 1. Protection against risks of physical injury to persons or property and against useless products.

2. Protection against improper marketing measures and inadequate information.

3. Protection against one-sided contract terms and risks of economic damage,

4. Provision of effective and impulsive dispute resolution procedures for the consumer.

5. Monitoring of the mechanism whereby prices and rates are fixed on the consumer goods and services market,

6. Surveillance of practices or agreements jeopardizing the competitive structure of a market sector,

7. Planning of a consumer education programmed.

Consumer rights gained importance in the world, particularly in western countries in the last country. Subsequently it gained some ground in the developing countries as well. Almost all the countries now have consumer protection laws. The rights of consumers got international recognition when in 1985 the UN adopted the basic guidelines for consumer rights protection. The guidelines stipulate that ‘all citizens, regardless of their incomes or social standing, have basic rights as consumers.

 Conclusions

In conclusion, the naive consumers of Bangladesh are in critical need of having the fortification of broad consumer protection legislation. So, the government of Bangladesh is required to enact a widespread Consumer Protection Act as quickly as possible and advance strictly ensures the efficient execution of such legislation. We should always remember that an efficient consumer protection legislation of a inhabitants not only protects and promotes the privileges and happiness of its consumers, but it also enhance definite socio-economic targets of its macro economy, such as scarcity alleviation, competent, fair and translucent market method, good governance and beyond all, socio-economic impartiality for its citizens. Many declare as, our current law is old-fashioned, not capable to look after the consumers, defective and doesn’t meet the current necessities. Therefore, endorsement of new law is a must. Yet, one may query, how far the endorsement of new law will in some real sense explain the current consumer hitch? If the already obtainable law is not completely imposed then how come we can look forward that the new law will protect our customers and their privileges properly improved than today.

Bibliography

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M. Humayun Kabir Chowdhury, et al, Consumer Perceived Value Formation in Bangladesh: A latent Structure Approach, ASA University Review, vol.1, Issue No.01, pp-1-4, passim;

G. Borrie and A. L. Diamond. The Consumer, Society and the Law. New York, 1983, p.9

The High Court Division in a recent judgement ordered all the medical service providers to pay the VAT by themselves not to charge the consumers;

Mizanur Rahman, ‘Consumer Protection in Bangladesh: Law and Practice’ (1994) 17(3) Journal of Consumer Policy 349.

Stern. Consumer Protection via increased information. In: D. Aaaker and G. Day. Consumerism : Search for the consumer interest. Brussels Seminar, Nov. 1977.

The Protection of Consumer Rights Act, 2009. Published by the Government on April 06, 2009.

Constitution of Bangladesh, the ministry of law, published by the parliament.

Mr. L. Kabir, the Penal Code, 1860. Ain prokashani, Dhaka, 2009.

Consumer Rights in Bangladesh

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