Who is a consumer?

Consumers are people who1 buy and use goods or services.  Consumers have a right to file a complaint for any of the services or goods used by them:

Person buying and using goods and services

A consumer includes any person who buys goods and services, as well as anyone who uses them. For instance, a person who watches a movie after buying a movie ticket is a consumer and similarly, a person who uses a gift voucher gifted from someone else  is also a consumer.

Person using goods for self-employment, and not for commercial purposes

The consumer protection law does not apply to people who use goods and services for commercial purposes. However, there are some exceptions to this. For example, a person who buys large machines for using it in their business, is not a ‘consumer’. However, people who use goods for self-employment are considered as consumers2.  For example, artists who buy art supplies for their work or beauticians who buy beauty products are consumers.

Person using online facilities

A consumer also includes any person who buys or hires goods or services online. For example, if you order from an online clothes website, you are a consumer.3

People facing issues related to food

Consumers also include people who may be facing issues related to food items, such as adulteration, poor quality, lack of service, etc.4 For instance, issues related to food can cover problems across a wide range of products, starting from water that goes into the production of items like  juices as well as the sale of animals like chicken, mutton etc. that are expressly intended for human consumption5


  1. Section 2(7), Consumer Protection Act, 2019.[]
  2. Section 2(7)(i), Consumer Protection Act, 2019.[]
  3. Explanation (b), Section 2(7), Consumer Protection Act, 2019.[]
  4. Section 2(21), Consumer Protection Act, 2019.[]
  5. Section 3(j), Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.[]

What are consumer rights?

Consumers who are unaware of their rights are vulnerable to the marketplace. It is vital for consumers to be aware of their rights so that they can make choices confidently, and with due regard to their interests. Consumer Rights include, but are not limited to, the following ((Consumer Rights, Department of Consumer Affairs, accessed at https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/organisation-and-units/division/consumer-protection-unit/consumer-rights:

Right to protection against goods and services which are hazardous to life and property

Goods should not only meet the consumers’ immediate needs, but also fulfill long-term interests, and the use of goods and services  should not result in any harm to consumers. For instance, if a person uses a medicine that cures an immediate ailment such as the flu, but the medicine causes worse side-effects, then they can file a consumer complaint.

Right to be informed

Consumers have the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods. This right ensures that sellers put out authentic information on the product labels and do not make claims which are not true.

The government also publishes a price monitoring list for essential commodities along with Mandi prices, daily price reports, educational material on consumers’ digital safety etc. Some state Governments, such as Tamil Nadu, have also published advisories to educate consumers.

Right to choose a variety of items at competitive prices, wherever possible

Consumers have the right to get basic goods and services at fair prices. For example, you have the right to buy medicines either from the hospital medical store or from general stores at fair prices.

Right to file a complaint at Consumer Redressal Forums

Consumers have the legal right to use Redressal Forums to file their complaints. Every consumer has a right to file a complaint and be heard so that the grievance can be resolved.

Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices

Unfair trade practices usually relate to cheating, deceiving, or defrauding the consumer through schemes, advertisements etc. The law protects consumers from being exploited and creates a system for the consumer to claim a fair settlement through the redressal forums.

What is Consumer Welfare Fund?

The overall objective of the Consumer Welfare Fund(CWF) is to provide financial assistance to promote and protect the welfare of the consumers and strengthen the consumer movement in the country1. There are certain rules in place which govern the use of the CWF. Some of them are2:

  • Consumer awareness projects with wide coverage and adopting best international practices will receive priority for funding from CWF.
  • The Government will focus on rural and disadvantaged consumers and schemes to protect them when using the CWF. For this, projects relating to rural consumers and their empowerment3, and such organizations that work for rural consumers (which also have large participation of women and socially marginalized groups)4, will receive special focus.
  • The CWF is also to be disbursed among the States and Union Territories, to create regional Consumer Welfare Funds, to fund welfare activities.
  • There is a marked effort towards contributing to the CWF through the corporate social responsibility funds that are earmarked by companies.
  • Innovative projects for consumer awareness and education, setting up training and research facilities for consumer education, projects relating to the rural consumer empowerment, Consumer Clubs in schools/colleges/Universities, setting up of Consumer Guidance Bureau at the State/ regional level for counselling and guidance, product testing labs, creating Centres of Excellence in Universities, meeting expenses on advocacy and class action suits, etc. get priority.

Applying for financial aid under the CWF

Calls for proposals seeking financial aid from the Consumer Welfare Fund are online, twice a year usually in the months of January & July. The appropriate notice and format of inviting proposals will be issued and published on the Consumer Department website. You can also download the application form for grants from Consumer Welfare Fund from the Consumer Department website5.

However, the Appraisal Committee can reject an application, for reasons including not meeting the eligibility criteria, incomplete forms trying to receive funds for the same venture through multiple Government forums, etc6.


  1. Section II, Consumer Welfare Fund Guidelines, 2019[]
  2. Section III, Consumer Welfare Fund Guidelines, 2019[]
  3. Section IV, Consumer Welfare Fund Guidelines, 2019[]
  4. Section V, Consumer Welfare Fund Guidelines, 2019[]
  5. Section VIII, Consumer Welfare Fund Guidelines, 2019[]
  6. Department of Consumer Affairs, Consumer Welfare Guidelines, https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/sites/default/files/file-uploads/guidlines-2014/CWF%20Guidelines%202014.pdf. []