Consumers’ Law

Consumers'; Law laws safeguarding the interest of consumers. Rights of the consumers are now universally recognized. To protect these rights, consumers'; laws have been enacted in all developed countries in accordance with the principles laid down by the United Nations. But most underdeveloped countries lack such laws, despite the demand for them. Consumers'; rights are not limited only to the purchase of goods and commodities at a fair price, but also include the rights of passengers to travel by land, sea, or air with safety and comfort. Every patient has a right to collect diagnosis and treatment from a doctor at any time in exchange of a fee. In fact, every individual is a consumer.

In April 1960, a conference was held in The Hague in Holland under the auspices of the consumers'; organisations of the United States, Britain, Australia, Belgium and other countries with the objective of consolidating the consumers'; societies. It is at this conference that the International Organisation of Consumers'; Unions was established.
In the 1950s some businessmen in the United States used to resort to fraud and deception in selling goods and commodities. At times they used to charge exhorbitant prices in the name of monopoly business. They also used to cheat consumers by selling underweight and adulterated goods. In these circumstances US President John F. Kenedy got a historic bill on four rights of consumers approved by the Congress on 15 March 1962. These rights soon received recognition around the world. On 16 April 1985 seven basic principles to protect consumers'; rights were adopted by the UN General Assembly in a resolution. All member countries and organisations were directed to implement these principles. This is how the rights of the consumers were established. 
The movement to establish the seven consumers'; rights recognized by the United Nations has emerged all over the world. These rights include: (i) right to safety; (ii) right to information or knowledge; (iii) right to complain and make representations; (iv) right to purchase commodities at a fair price according to one';s choice; (v) right to get compensation; (vi) right to learning on the part of the buyer; and (vii) right to a healthy environment.
In 1978 a number of academics, journalists, philanthropists, doctors and NGO experts formed The Consumers'; Association of Bangladesh (CAB). The representatives of this organisation participated in the world conference sponsored by the International Organisation of Consumers'; Unions held in France in 1997. In fact, Bangladesh';s reputation was enhanced as a result of the role played by CAB at a conference held later in Penang. The first conference on consumers in South Asian countries was held in Dhaka under the auspices of CAB.
The movement for consumers'; right in the subcontinent is of recent origin. There are laws as well as courts to protect the rights of consumers in Sri Lanka, Nepal, and India. But no such laws have been enacted in Pakistan and in Bangladesh. In effect, there are no comprehensive laws that can protect the interests of consumers. Laws enacted during British rule in India and thereafter in Pakistan are still in force. None of them are appropriate and applicable in the context of present-day consumers'; society. Some of these laws include Trade Mark Act, 1940; Unadulterated Food Ordinance, 1959; Standard of Weights and Measures Ordinance, 1961; Drugs Control Ordinance, 1982; Breast Feeding an Alternative to Child Food Ordinance, 1984. 
However, after negotiations with government officials and representatives of the buyers, consumers society has finally managed to form a committee for the codification of consumers'; laws. This committee consisting of representatives from the ministries of commerce and law, businessmen, industrialists, professionals, and from buyers'; organisation. This committee has drafted laws which are still awaiting legislation. [Borhan Ahmed] [Ahmed, Borhan  Journalist, Daily Janakantha]