“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so” -Mahatma Gandhi
Author: Muskan Tyagi
In everyday life consumer go through the problem of defective products on everyday basis . Dangerous or otherwise defective products cause injury to countless numbers of consumers each year. Furthermore, now that the world has open thousand online options for the consumers to buy so has the the issue of false advertising and defective product . People today often struggle to find the appropriate redressal for such mechanism as Nearly one in two Indian consumers reported being stuck with one or more high-value faulty product, as per a survey by community platform Local Circles. This article explains the concept of product liability and how the consumer can essentially use them in cases of defective products issued either by due to negligence of product seller or the product manufacturer.
Who Can be Called a Consumer ?
According to Section 2(7) of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 , a consumer is defined as a person who buys a good or receives a service for a given amount of consideration .
A person who obtains a good for resale or a good or services for commercial purposes is not considered as a consumer . Further according to the present Act , it encompasses all types of transactions, including those conducted offline and online via electronic methods, teleshopping, multi-level marketing, and direct selling etc. A consumer is also someone who uses goods or services that have been hired by someone else but with their permission. Therefore , looking at the given present case we can easily if one will fall into the criteria of a consumer or not.
What is defined as goods and services under consumer protection Act ?
The term "goods" refers to movable property under the Act. In addition, it encompasses "food products" as defined by the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006. Consequently, the Consumer Protection Act does not provide protection for the acquisition of any immovable property.
The term ‘service' as defined by the Act means that, with the exception of gratuitous or uncompensated personal services, all services of all types, such as banking and insurance, are included. The term is exhaustive and is not limited to certain services included in the definition.
What is termed defect ?
The term defect is defined in Section 2(1)(f) as any flaw, imperfection, or lack in quality, quantity, purity, or standard. For eg : In a case of Shri. Rahul Banik versus Dell India Pvt. Ltd. & Others. the laptop dealer washed away his responsibilities to help the defendant on the grounds that the manufacturer is the only one who can hear the case. In the issue at hand, the court concluded that a seller or manufacturer is obligated to provide proper service to a product provided to a purchaser such as the complainant if the product or its operation has a flaw. The court went on to say that such an endeavour on the part of a product seller is unlawful in the eyes of the law. And a seller or a manufacturer cannot absolve themselves of obligation once the product has been sold, making the seller liable for deficiency in services.
The concept of product liability and its further essentials with respect to manufacturer , seller and service provider are discussed in chapter ix of the consumer protection Act 2019. According to the definition the product liability in simple terms is a legal liability that the manufacturer, seller or the service provider incurs in any case of negligence / omission of duty or responsibility from their side. It should be noted that a product should meet the reasonable expectations that a consumer has regarding the quality and safety of the product.
Section 84 of the given Act defines product liability of the Manufacturer . The act further comes to identifies the circumstances in which a product manufacturer may be held accountable in a product liability case for harm caused by the defective product .
The following situations are given as under:
- The product contains a manufacturing defect
- The product is defective in design;
- The product does not conform to the manufacturing specifications;
- product does not conform to express warranty
- the product does not have adequate instruction or warning on it.
- The product contains a manufacturing flaw.
- There is a flaw in the design.
- A warranty that is express is not confirmed. It is irrelevant whether the warranty was granted in good faith or not.
- There is a problem in the product's marketing because the user is not warned of the potential dangers linked with inappropriate use.
- The product contains a manufacturing flaw if it was not manufactured according to the stipulated parameters.
- Products that offer an undue risk to the user are defective. This danger may stem from construction that is unreliable and falls short of user expectations.
- The accompanying service fell short of the criteria established by the applicable law or, if applicable, the terms of the contract.
- The service provider caused the customer's injury either intentionally or negligently.
- The failure of the service provider to issue warnings regarding the potential for harm from improper use of the product contributed to the victim's injuries.
- There was a failure to comply with the conditions of the service agreement or guarantee.
- The following damage is a direct outcome of the vendor's alterations to the generated products, which caused the alterations.
- The product's manufacturer did not issue a formal guarantee, but the vendor did, and it was not honoured.
- If the manufacturer is unknown, the seller may be held personally responsible for any complications arising from the sale. If for any reason the manufacturer cannot be sued, the seller may also be held personally accountable. If the seller is representing a foreign manufacturer, Indian law would not apply to the transaction. In this case, the Indian vendor would be held accountable.
- Seller was careless in their handling, inspection, and maintenance of the product or in relaying manufacturer warnings to the buyer, causing the buyer's injury.
 Shri. Rahul Banik versus Dell India Pvt. Ltd. & Others (2016) , 1. S.C. C 273. M/S I.C.C. Computer System vs Sh. Gagan Bharat And Anr, 2013 , 6. S.C.C 678