Legal provision to strengthen rights of consumers
Kathmandu, August 27
The government, for the first time, is preparing to ensure legal rights for consumers to seek compensation against any anti-consumer activity.
The Bill to Protect Rights of Consumers, which has been passed by Cabinet and awaits endorsement from Parliament, states that consumers can file cases at the court claiming compensation against any negative impact on the consumer’s life due to anti-consumer activities.
This means, for instance, a consumer can claim compensation if he or she is affected by poor quality of foods or other products consumed. In other words, a consumer can file a case against the producer or trader seeking compensation for the health hazard that resulted after consuming their products, informed Nabaraj Dhakal, joint secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.
“We are introducing such compensatory right for consumers with an intention to make producers, and traders of all products more responsible and accountable,” Dhakal stated.
In the context of increasing anomalies in the market and government’s inspections failing to curb such anti-consumer activities, the bill has also envisioned empowering market monitoring officials of the government to take action on the spot itself. As per the draft bill, market inspectors can take action on the spot for cases related to sales of outdated and low quality products, cheating consumers in terms of quantity, not issuing invoice, not mentioning price list and overcharging consumers, among others.
Similarly, the bill has also envisioned forming dedicated consumer courts across the country to deal with issues related to consumers and ensure the rights of consumers. However, formation of such courts has been delayed since long though different governments in the past envisioned doing so.
Likewise, the bill has also envisioned intervention from the government to end the practice of having ‘middlemen’ in the trading sector in the backdrop of producers not getting reasonable price for their produce while consumers are being compelled to pay high costs.