(This is a continuation of the series of articles on this subject)
Who Is a Consumer?
According to the proposed Consumer Protection Act 2015 , “consumer” means any person who—
(i) buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment
when such use is made with the approval of such person,
but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose; or
(ii) hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment,
when such services are availed of with the approval of the first mentioned person
(but does not include a person who avails of such services of any commercial purpose).
Explanation.—For the purposes of this clause,—
(a) the expression “commercial purpose” does not include use by a consumer of goods bought and used by him exclusively for the purpose of earning his livelihood, by means of self-employment;
(b) the expression “buys any goods” and “hires or avails any services” include the transactions made through any mode, inclusive of but not limited to, offline, online through electronic means, teleshopping or direct selling or multi level marketing;
We may note that the definition of a “Consumer” is not restricted to the person who actually buys or pays for the goods or services but any user or beneficiary of the product.
The definition also clearly excludes the cases of a person using the goods or services without the approval of the “first mentioned person” which should mean the “buyer” or “owner”.
Understandably the definition excludes the buyer/user who obtains the goods or service for “Commercial Purpose”.
It is interesting to note that the Act does not omit to add the definition of a “Person” which is inherent in our law as well as the General Clauses Act to avoid the kind of confusion that may occur as in the case of ITA 2000/8 which was raised in the Adjudication Cases in Karnataka.
Accordingly, it clarifies that the term “Person” includes
(i) a firm whether registered or not;
(ii) a Hindu Undivided Family;
(iii) a co-operative society;
(iv) an association of persons whether registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 or not;
(v) any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society, joint stock company, or any other entity including any government entity or unincorporated association of persons;