Defect in Goods

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Defect in Goods

The defect in goods is the foremost problem in Consumer Protection and has given rise to multiple complaints in the past. It is hence important to study in detail the concept of the defect in good, which will be broken down in this article.

What is Good?

A good refers to a tangible item received by the consumer from the trader or producer for a considerable amount. Tangible is something that can be touched, seen and felt. The possession of goods can be transferred from one person to another. Goods also have a duration of storage.

Illustration:

A pays B Rs.1500 for a pair of jeans.

Here, A is the consumer,

B is the seller,

Jeans is good and

Rs. 1500 is the consideration amount.

The consumer of a good, according to Section 2(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1856, is one who buys the good from the seller for a considerable amount that he haspaid, promised or partially paid and partially promised.

Any system of deferred or future payment will also qualify the buyer to be a consumer. Any other person who, with the buyer’s permission, uses the good, is also a consumer. However, those who purchase goods in order to sell them again or for a commercial purpose, will be excluded from the definition of a consumer of a good.

What is Defect?

Section 2(1)(f) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 defines defect in goods. The defect is defined as any imperfection, fault, a shortcoming in certain parameters of the good which are as follows:

  • Quality
  • Quantity
  • Purity
  • Potency
  • Standard

The above has a level that needs to be maintained by or under any law in force at that time.

Hence, if any good is not up to the mark or is faulty, that is, does not meet the mark of the laws applicable in the particular period, it is defective.

Illustrations of Defective Good:

  • A consumer purchases a washing machine. It has a wiring problem which results in the destruction of all the clothes put in the machine.
  • A consumer purchases a cosmetic product that causes irritation to the skin.
  • A consumer purchases a handbag. After purchase, he sees a slit at the bottom of the bag.
  • A consumer purchases milk that has been adulterated by mixing with water.
  • A consumer purchase socks made of a fabric that causes skin infection.

A defect of Goodsis seen in numerous cases due to its wide ambit. Defects can be present in goods irrespective of their size, shape, colour, dimension, state of matter and so on. The defect in service often causes inconvenience, injury and in aggravated cases, death. Producers of goods must be immensely careful of the goods that are being manufactured by them.

Safety is a major concern which is sought after by all consumers across the globe.A small defect in good can cause a great impact on the consumer who can face a damage. This damage includes physical, mental and economic loss.

Cases of the defect in goods are too many to count and have rapidly increased with the introduction of online shopping. The Consumer Protection Act tries to limit these grievances of the consumers by penalizing the producers of such goods. It is the much-required means of providing justice to those consumers who have been at a loss or inconvenience.

Cases of Defect

Laxmi Engineering Works vs P.S.G. Industrial Institute[1], Abhay Kumar Panda v. Bajaj Auto Limited[2] and various other cases that resulted in major debates were initially filed as cases for the defect in good. The former saw a defect in a machine while the latter saw a defect in a vehicle purchased. Other prominent cases include Kevin Enterprise vs Joint Cit[3], and cases at the Supreme Court, Union Of India (Uoi) vs Ratilal Jadavji[4] and Union Of India vs Behari Lal And Co.[5]

These cases show the repercussions of defective goods. While the first two cases resulted in a whole new deliberation upon the definition of the consumer, the later cases were all under the ambit of defective goods. However, all these case complaints find its root in the good received being defective, hence highlighting its meaning and importance.

Online Shopping and Defect in Goods

Online shopping is a recent development in the market. It has introduced a new and modern style of interaction between consumers and sellers by benefitting both consumers and sellers. The consumers find online shopping extremely convenient while the sellers now have a wider access for sale of their products. However, this development in the global sphere also has its repercussions. It has brought in a large number of complaint of defective goods.

In many cases, the good purchased online looks nothing like what was portrayed of the product. Goods have arrived broken, faulty in design, torn, adulterated, impure and so forth. This is a great hurdle in Consumer Protection and is a problem that remains unsolved today.

Online shopping has turned disastrous to the consumer in cases like Anil Kumar v. M/s Naaptol Online Shopping Pvt. Ltd. and M/s Gati Limited, Vinodkumar, Ernakulam Vs. Shoed Merchant, Mumbai & Ebay India and the Chitra Vittal case[6].

Sellers must take care while sending their goods for transit. The goods should be handled with care during the transportation process. The sellers should not attempt to cheat the consumers by intentionally handing over defective goods to them.

Consequences of Defective Goods

Defective goods can do much greater harm than we imagine. Safety is the foremost in the protection of consumer interests. Defective goods can cause such a harm to the safety of consumers that it could possibly affect them in future too.

Defective goods can cause diseases and bodily disabilities as well, as seen in the world-famous Grant v.Australian Knitting Mills.[7]

A small defect in a vehicle can cause an accident, a small defect in a food item can cause death. Sellers must eliminate such a risk of defect that can cause a disruption in the normal standards of health and hygiene of a consumer.

The consumers of the country today are in dire need of protection from goods that are not up to the mark. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, tries to safeguard the interests of the consumers by developing mechanisms to deal with consumer grievances.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

  1. How are defect and deficiency different from each other?

A defect is pertaining to goods, that is, tangible objects, whereas deficiency is pertaining to services which are intangible in nature.

  1. What are the facts of Grant v. Australian Knitting Mills?

In this case, an underwear purchased by the complainant caused skin irritation which ultimately resulted in a severe case of dermatitis.

  1. What is adulteration?

Adulteration is when a food item fails to meet the prescribed standards of quality set by the competent authority. This arises mainly due to the addition of another substance to the item which makes the item impure.

  1. What happened in the Chitra Vittal case?

Chitra Vittal filed a complaint against an online vendor of cakes and confectionery since a smashed cake was delivered.

[References]

[1] 1995 AIR 1428

[2](1991) 2 CPJ 644

[3]2001 79 ITD 196 Ahd

[4]AIR 1971 Cal 515

[5]6 (1970) DLT 497

[6] Sushmita Gopalan, Cheated in Online Shopping? Here is how you can get Justice, (July 23, 2018, 1:10 AM), https://www.moneylife.in/33172.html.

[7]HCA 35, (1933) 50 CLR 387

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