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”.
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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.