Report No. 105
The Position in India-the Need for Amendment
4.1. We may to begin with refer to the decision in Raghava Menon v. Kuttappan Nair, AIR 1962 Ker 318. There the plaintiff purchased a wrist-watch from the defendant. The watch did not give satisfactory service inspite of the fact that the seller had tried to set it right a number of times. The buyer sued the seller for the replacement of the watch or the refund of the price. It was held that the seller was bound to replace the watch or, in the alternative, to pay back its price. It was observed that:
"the plaintiff is a layman and he approaches a fairly reputed firm like the defendant dealing in watches and purchases a watch from them, not for any special purpose, but for the common purpose of knowing the correct time. In such a case, section 16(1) of the Sales of Goods Act may apply, because the buyer makes known to the seller, by implication, the purpose for which he purchases the watch and also relies on the seller's skill or judgment."1
1. Ibid at p. 320.
4.2. The above case shows that where a buyer seeks to enforce his remedy in a court of law and is able to establish that the commodity is not of merchandisable quality or that spurious parts have been added, he might successfully enforce his rights against the seller.
4.3. But times have changed. In our country, due to developmental activities, a wide variety of goods are manufactured. People are beginning to enjoy the fruits of industrial advance made in this country. In these days of production and sale of sophisticated electrical gadgets, a purchaser of these articles may not be able to establish that parts are defective or that there has been substitution of genuine parts by substandard or imitation parts. It is to this aspect of the matter that we address ourselves to in the report.
4.4. We have given careful consideration whether the Indian Sale of Goods Act should also be amended suitably on the lines of U.K. Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act, 1973 as subsequently amended in 1979. We had earlier noticed how the existing provisions were interpreted by the courts. Even in U.K., in spite of the amendments to law, a learned commentator expresses the view that the consumer is still not adequately protected from avoidable and common problems in consumer sales.1
1. See Brian W. Harvey, (supra), p. 98.
4.5. It would, therefore, appear that mere amendment to Sale of Goods Act will not solve the problem of consumer protection. Our main aim is to suggest preventive steps rather than suggesting amendments to the law, on the lines of amendments made to U.K. Sale of Goods Act. Besides, it does not appear that many consumers have sought to enforce the remedies even under the existing provisions of law. In such a situation it seems to us that the best way is to suggest a method where a consumer can ensure that the goods he purchases are tested as to the quality and standard at the time of purchase, if necessary on payment of a small fee, rather than suggest elaborate amendments to existing law on sale of goods, which, as earlier noted, are a matter of opinion, whether they have served their purpose, even in U.K.