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TOYS AND SAFETY REGULATIONS AND RIGHTS OF THE CONSUMER

INTRODUCTION

The use of goods and services is called consumption.  The person who consumes goods and services by paying the manufacturer or producer or retailer or service provider is termed a “consumer”. Though these manufacturers, retailers and service providers earn profits by selling their goods and services to consumers, there are some cases in which the consumers are being exploited. The various forms of exploitation faced by consumers are adulteration of goods, duplicate goods, defective goods, hazardous goods, deficient services and so on. To protect consumers from these forms of exploitation, The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was enacted. This act was amended and replaced by The Consumer Protection Act 2019.[1] To guarantee adherence to quality standards and certification of goods, marks are provided for goods by the Bureau of Indian Standards, established under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act 2016.[2]

ABOUT TOYS AND THEIR SALES

Toys play a significant role in a child’s growth. Toys act as their friends and companions. Children not only play with toys but also tend to learn a lot of new things from toys and games. There are several kinds of toys in shops that may appeal to different age groups and different categories of children. Here, confusion arises for parents as to which kind of toy they may choose for their children. Here the question arises: ‘Are those toys safe for their kid?’

Toys may possess various dangers pertaining to chemical, physical, mechanical, electrical, hygiene oriented, and so on. These defects cannot be identified at first glance. If toys are not manufactured properly, they may risk the lives of children. Toys act not only as entertainment for children but also contribute to their education. The origin of toys is ancient. Dolls in the shape of infants, kings, animals, and soldiers at archaeological sites[3]. Tiny toys might be swallowed by kids. Most children and parents tend to select toys based on colours, features, specifications, and pricing without considering their safety standards and dangers. Toys are an essential part of human life. Most of our ancient toys are made of wood, clay, and metal. Most consumers tend to buy cheap, unbranded toys and games. The Internet is becoming a more critical platform for distribution these days.

NEED FOR STANDARDIZATION MARKS

Today, a lot of kids are in danger due to the lack of quality toys and games. Defective goods, duplicate goods, and hazardous goods cause accidents in children. For example, toys like puzzles, dolls and balls are used by little kids, causing choking and suffocation hazards besides toxic colors. This exploitation makes the children and their parents suffer a lot. To put an end to this suffering and to ensure the quality of goods, standardization marks were established. A mark or symbol given to a product or good when it fulfills specific standards concerning quality on the basis of manufacturing, packing, labeling, and performance is termed a standardization mark. There are several standardization marks pertaining to different goods. For example, ISI Mark, Agmark, FPO, Hallmark, and so on. Toy manufacturers and sellers take advantage of consumers who lack awareness about standardization and certification and are selling defective, duplicate, or hazardous toys without proper certification. In India, this standardization mark for toys and other products is given by the Bureau of Indian Standards through the ISI mark.

ENSURING QUALITY AND STANDARDIZATION

The Bureau of Indian Standards Act empowers the government to regulate and govern the activities of the BIS institution. The Bureau has several powers, which may include the power to establish and publish Indian standards, establish a specific symbol or mark to be identified as the “Bureau of Indian Standard Certification Mark”, grant or cancel the license, check the products, introduce laboratories, and so on. The Act forbids the improper usage of the marks and imposes a penalty for the same. This Act was put up for amendment in 2016. To protect children from accidents or dangers relating to toys, the government has included them under mandatory certification. The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued an official notification for the implementation of the Toys Quality Control Order dated February 25, 2020.[4] This Order pertains to toys, which include products or materials specifically designed or intended for children under 14 years of age for play purposes. The Central government reserves the right to include any other product under the purview of this order through notifications. This order applies to the toys in their original state and, additionally, to the toys subjected to reasonable conditions of regular use. The BIS Bureau acts as a certifying and enforcement authority.[5] So if the toy acquired did not possess certification from the BIS or it was not produced according to specified compulsory parameters, a complaint shall be lodged immediately challenging both the producer and the vendor in the BIS regional office situated in the vicinity. Otherwise, a complaint may be raised through the BIS website. Engaging in the production, commercialization, or retention for the sale of a toy lacking the obligatory marking of ISI can result in legal consequences, including a fine or imprisonment for contravention of standards. [6]

Today, it’s significant to examine the presence of the ISI mark on the toys before purchasing and, furthermore, lodge complaints regarding retail establishments that sell toys without the certified mark, as well as those establishments that are producing toys without the presence of the ISI mark. Any negative impact resulting from the use of toys must be reported.

RIGHTS OF CONSUMERS

The primary objective of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 is to safeguard the rights and welfare of consumers in India and establish a framework for consumer complaints and redressal.

Right to Safety: the right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products, or services that are hazardous to life and property.[7]

‘Defect’ means any fault, imperfection, or shortcoming in the quality, quantity, potency, purity or standard which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or under any contract, express or implied, or as is claimed by the trader in any manner whatsoever in relation to any goods or product, and the expression ‘defective’ shall be construed accordingly.” [8]

But the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 [9]declines to explain the rights of children. Within the provisions of this Act, there exists a significant review regarding the child consumer to be included under section 2(7)[10].

CONCLUSION

Each Child has the right to be protected against this exploitation. It is necessary to raise complaints when these toys do not comply with the standards mentioned in the Bureau of Indian Standards Act 2016[11]. If a product is defective in quality, a complaint can be raised according to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019[12]. The welfare of the consumers is significant for a product. A consumer could not determine the quality of the product at face value. Standards are authentication to ensure a product’s quality. There is a need for awareness of these standardizations, toy safety regulations, and the rights of consumers. Strict punishment and fines should be imposed if toxic substances are found in toys.

Author(s) Name: J Rani Sangamithra (Tamilnadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai)

References:

[1] Consumer Protection Act 2019

[2] Bureau of Indian Standards Act 2016

[3] Suresh Misra and Prateek Gupta, ‘Toys and Safety Regulations’(Ministry of Consumer Affairs, 2015) <https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/sites/default/files/file-uploads/consumer_information/Toy.pdf> accessed 7 July 2023  

[4] Toys (Quality Control) Order 2020

[5] Toys (Quality Control) Order 2020

[6] Bureau of Indian Standards Act 2016, s 29

[7] Consumer Protection Act 2019, s 2(9)

[8] Consumer Protection Act 2019, s 2(10)

[9] Consumer Protection Act 2019

[10] Consumer Protection Act 2019, s 2(7)

[11] Bureau of Indian Standards Act 2016

[12] Consumer Protection Act 2019