ANALYSIS OF CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS IN PAKISTAN
The consumers are being oppressed due to unawareness of their fundamental rights as well as they are ignorant about the potential of available legal remedies. The situation is more pathetic due to the apparent absence of a systematized consumer movement in Pakistan. To furnish the consumer forums with appropriate enforcement and paraphernalia for consumer protection in all consumer related matters from food and health to pecuniary contracts and establishment of adequate redress mechanisms should be one of the main objectives of any Govt. In Pakistan, the consumers are the most defenseless class of the society, partially due to lack of proper understanding of their rights and legal remedies and partially due to disparity in consumer protection laws in the federal capital and the four provinces. Normally, there are two main goals of any consumer protection law. The 1st is access to justice and the 2nd is participation of the state. Pakistani consumer protection laws will be discussed under the both perspectives. Consumer protection laws in Pakistan specifically provide consumer grievance redressal forums and policy input with the potential of participation of consumer rights associations. The prevailing legislations regarding Consumer Protection in force in different areas of Pakistan are: 1. Punjab Consumer Protection Act, 2005 (PCPA)
2. Baluchistan Consumer Protection Act, 2003 (BCPA)
3. NWFP Consumer Protection Act, 1997 (NCPA)
4. Islamabad Consumer Protection Act, 1995 (ICPA)
5. Sindh Consumer Protection Ordinance, 2007 (SCPO)
All consumer protection laws in Pakistan commend for the setting up of two legal bodies which are Consumer Protection Councils and Consumer Courts. Consumer Protection Council is main part of consumer protection regime. Practically, the Government of Punjab has taken a concrete step to promote the rights and interests of consumers and set up district consumer protection councils in only 11 districts of the province to facilitate the vulnerable consumer in Punjab. Creation of awareness among different categories of consumers about their role, rights and responsibilities is one of the aims and objectives of consumer protection councils in Punjab. There is apparently no obstacle in the formation of consumer protection councils in other areas, except, the routine official delays etc. Consumer protection council is the only forum provided for policy input for consumer protection, and this is an impending forum for a proper and effective role to be played by consumer rights organizations but in the absence of consumer protection councils this cannot materialize. Obviously there is an urgent need for the formation of CPCs in whole of the country for invigorating the process of reviewing and modifying available laws and their implementation. The non-existence of these councils reflects ailing attitude of our governments and causes negative marking for Pakistan internationally. Participation of consumers in the process of consumer protection is an important element of consumer protection councils. Formation of Consumer Courts is 2nd most important segment of the consumer protection regime. All the legislations provide for the establishment of consumer courts with the exception of ICPA stresses upon the establishment of separate consumer court. For example, section 12 of BCPA prescribes for the establishment of consumer courts and, in the alternative, empowers the provincial government to confer powers of the court on judicial magistrate to act under the law. Similarly, Section 26 of PCPA stresses upon the establishment of one separate consumer court in each district. However, no consumer courts have been notified in Baluchistan and such is also the case in KPK. In Punjab, consumer courts in 11 districts are established and made functional. It is therefore anybody may guess how high consumer protection on the agenda of the government is....
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