World Consumer Rights Day is observed every year on 15 March to highlight the need for consumer protection and empowerment. The day also aims to draw attention to market malpractices, which undermine the rights of consumers and what more can be done to empower buyers.
On 15 March 1962, then US President John F Kennedy delivered a special message to the US Congress and addressed the issue of consumer rights. Kennedy became the first world leader to highlight the importance of this issue.
World Consumer Rights Day was commemorated for the first time in 1983. Since then, it has been celebrated globally on 15 March every year.
Apart from World Consumer Rights Day, and National Consumer Rights Day in India, the United Nations has also highlighted the need for protection and empowerment of buyers. In 1985, the UN had adopted guidelines for protection, redressal mechanisms and institutions for establishing the rights of consumers. It had also set down principles to help member states cooperate and enforce these rights.
The theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2022 is ‘Fair Digital Finance’. As digital payments are increasingly becoming a part of society, the risks associated with them are multiplying as well. Consumers International organisation has chosen this year's theme to highlight the need for "innovative regulatory approaches and digital financial services and products that centre consumer protection and empowerment."
Consumer Rights in India
India has enshrined the concept of consumer rights in its Constitution. The Consumer Protection Act was passed in Parliament in December 1986, with the goal of empowering consumers.
These are some of the powers that consumers have under this Act:
- Consumers have the right to be heard at appropriate forums
- They have the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices
- They have the right to consumer education
- Consumers have the right to seek goods and services at competitive prices