Dr. K.P.S. Kamath is special to usindiamonitor
This article is about how an Indian won a case against Indian Railways by resorting to a Consumer Court. He was merely fighting for a principle.
What no one knows is that the Consumer Court resulted from a grassroots consumer movement we started in Udupi in May 1980. Here is how:
In September 1980 Oscar Fernandez, the Member of Parliament from Udupi visited me at my home in Kunjibettu. He was Indira Gandhi’s personal secretary. He offered to help the consumer movement.
Back in New Delhi, Fernandez read our weekly newsletter titled ‘Consumers’ Forum’ in the Parliament and said that the Government of India must take initiative to protect the rights of consumers.
Shortly thereafter, supported by Mrs. Gandhi, Fernandez began to work on Consumer Protection Act. When Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated in 1984, Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister. Fernandez became his right-hand man. Together, they hammered out the Consumer Protection Act, which passed in Parliament in 1986. This was replaced by the Consumer Protection Act of 2019.
Today this law is considered the Magna Carta of consumer protection in India.
There are today over 700 Consumer Courts all over India. To this day, no one knows the origin of the Consumer Courts in India.