“I Know, Right” (IKR) is an initiative by London College of Legal Studies(South) and Female Empowerment Movement that raises awareness to legally empower the People of Bangladesh. I Know, Right” consists of a team of three lawyers and one social entrepreneur: Faran Md. Araf, Lecturer at LCLS (South) and a Barrister at Law (Lincoln’s Inn), Mariha Zaman Khan, Lecturer at LCLS (South), Advocate, Dhaka District Court, and a Barrister at Law (Lincoln’s Inn), Zaiba Tahyya, Founder and CEO at FEM – Female Empowerment Movement, and Tahsin Noor Salim, Lecturer at LCLS (South) Advocate, Dhaka District Court, and a Barrister at Law (Lincoln’s Inn).
VICTIM OF EXPIRED GOODS?
Mina, a mother of two, just like every other mother, wants to provide the best of everything to her children – her world. Mina’s son is 5 years old and her daughter is a beautiful baby of 6 months.
One dreadful evening Mina finds out that both her children have fallen ill. Both are suffering from food poisoning. The last thing she could remember was, her son was having Star Chips while her daughter was fed with baby food formula. Mina being extremely hygienic always ensures that her children consume food in a clean environment. She was wondering where things went wrong.
She discovers that the chips she had bought was recently banned by the High Court, but still the supershop sold it to her regardless. Secondly, the expiry date on the food formula was missing from the packaging and there was no seal of the importer. Trodden with guilt, Mina wants to know what can she do to prevent other mothers from suffering the same fate.
Have we all not faced such a similar problem? This is what we can do by virtue of the rights guaranteed under Consumer’s Right Protection Act 2009
What Rights do consumer have ?
According to the UN
- Right to Basic Needs
- Right to Safety
- Right of Information
- Right to Choose
- Right to Representation
- Right to Redress
- Right to Consumer Education
- Right to Healthy Environment
Who can be a Complainant?
According to Section 2(3) of the Consumers’ Right Protection Act 2009, the following persons can file a complaint to the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection:
(a) any consumer;
(b) one or more consumers having same interest;
(c) any consumer association registered under any Act;
(d) the National Consumers’ Right Protection Council or any officer authorised to file any complaint on its behalf;
(e) the Government, or any Government officer authorised by the Government in this behalf; or (f) the concerned wholesaler and retailer.
Procedure to lodge a complaint:
- Must be in a written form along with personal details;
- Through fax or e-mails or any other electronic media;
- Must provide the receipt of the product;
Where to complain?
Dhaka: Director General, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, 1 Karwan Bazar (TCB Bhaban-8th Floor), Dhaka.
National Consumer Complaint Center, 1 Karwan Bazar (TCB Bhaban-9th Floor), Phone: 01777753668, Email: email@example.com.
Chittagong: Deputy Director, Chittagong Divisional Office, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, TCB Bhaban, Bandartila, Chittagong.
Barishal: Deputy Director, Khulna Divisional Office, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, Mohila Club Bhaban, Barishal.
Rajshahi: Deputy Director, Rajshahi Divisional Office, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, Srirampur, Rajshahi.
Sylhet: Deputy Director, Sylhet Divisional Office, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, Divisional Commissioner’s Office, Sylhet.
Khulna: Deputy Director, Khulna Divisional Office, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, TCB Bhaban, Shivbari More, Khulna.
Rangpur: Deputy Director, Rangpur Divisional Office, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, New Engineer Para, Rangpur.
Section 23. Power of investigation of the Director General or any other officer.
(1) The Director General shall have the same power for the investigation of an offence under this Act as an officer-in-charge of a police station.
Section 28. DG has power to ask for lawful assistance from any law enforcement agency like Police,RAB etc.
In the event where the packaging does not include the pricing or expiry date of the product, the alleged can be fined up to TK 50000 and/or be imprisoned up to one year.
Where one knowingly sells or attempts to sell adulterated products, he/she can face up to three years of imprisonment or be fined up to 2 lacs or both.
Consumers also have their rights protected under Pure Food Ordinance 1959, The Essential Commodity Act 1956 and the Penal Code 1860.
Subscribed to a Scam Meal Plan? Know Your Legal Rights
As wedding season arrives, Molly is determined to lose weight to fit into her fancy clothing. She went through her social media page and found a page that promised her she would lose around 4 kgs in two weeks. She immediately signed up to the meal plan that would deliver her food everyday for two weeks. While signing up for the meal plan, she was not provided with a certified nutritionist.
Molly thoroughly followed the plan without cheating on her meals. It was also affecting her daily routine, as she was always tired due to lack of nutrients. After two weeks, Molly did not find any changes in her weighing machine. She was the same except she felt weak, tired and demotivated.
What are Molly’s rights as a consumer of the “healthy” meal plan?
Under Section 60 of the Consumers Right Protection Act 2009, within 30 days of the cause of action arising, the complaint needs to be made to the Director General (DG) of The Directorate of National Consumers’ Right Protection (DNCRP).
Once the complaint has been lodged, the following three actions can be taken:
- Relying on the DG. If the DG’s investigation finds the party guilty, then the DG can prosecute and fine up to a certain amount of which 25% will given to the complainant (section 76 of Consumers Right Protection Act 2009).
- Criminal case. A criminal case can be pursued in front of a first class or metropolitan magistrate only after the complain has been referred to the DG (Section 57 and 60 of Consumers Right Protection Act 2009). It is going to be a summary trial thus ensuring swift disposal of the case. For false advertisement, punishment will be up to 1 year imprisonment or up to BDT 2 lacs fine or both (Section 44 Consumers Right Protection Act, 2009).
- Molly can also go for a civil remedy based on the contract and can follow it up at the civil court under The Contracts’ Act ,1872 and CPC procedures. For this, a practicing lawyer’s advice need to be sought. If she goes ahead with the civil suit, the Consumer Rights Protection Act empowers the civil courts to give upto five times the assessed damages she has suffered from the contract and also the costs of the suit and she will get the benefit financially ( Section 67 Consumers Right Protection Act,2009).Drawbacks in this route includes length of time it needs to dispose of the suit.
The market for meal delivery services was valued at 210 billion USD according to Morgan Stanley research in 2016. In Bangladesh, the meal plan service is gaining popularity amongst the health conscious population. Hence know your rights if you are one of them.
Legally Ending Animal Cruelty
Roxana was hanging out with her friends in a park near her house. Suddenly, a street dog came in their way and her friend Cynthia got scared. She started screaming seeing the dog and attracted a big crowd. Before Roxana could calm the situation down, Cynthia’s boyfriend started to kick the dog repeatedly. Consequently, the dog stopped responding. No one bothered except Roxana who was distressed and wanted to take further steps.
In the past, Roxana also witnessed vendors trying to sell parrots that were tightly tied upside down in a cage, with their legs clearly displaying signs of injury. This left Roxana traumatized for a while.
What would you do if you were Roxana? Good news is that there are new laws in Bangladesh that deal with such cruelty against animals.
- Gather evidence. If you witness either of the scenes then call 999 immediately.
- You may go to your nearest police station and report with sufficient evidence.
- If the animal is alive, you can also seek help from the nearest fire service and local government officials who are under a duty to help you (Section 14, Animal Welfare Act 2019).
But can the acts be classified as cruelty against animals?
According to Section 6(d) of Animal Welfare Act 2019, cruelty amounts to restricting the animal to such an extent and in such a manner that it fails to stand, sit or function in its natural ways. Section 6(e) also highlights cruelty to include unnecessary hurting of the animal using sharp instruments, while Section 6(h) includes annoying the animal to be deemed as cruelty. Furthermore, Section 10 of the same Act focuses on punishment for damaging or removing organs of animals.
Know your right. The archaic law of Animal Cruelty Act 1920 has been replaced by Animal Welfare Act 2019 which takes punitive measures against perpetrators such as:
- For restricting movement of animals, punishment can go up to 6 months imprisonment or 10,000 BDT fine or both (Section 16(a) Animal Welfare Act 2019)
- If the animal is found to have suffered from a damage or removal of an organ then the assailant will face imprisonment for up to two years or fine of 50,000 BDT or both (Section 16(b) Animal Welfare Act 2019)
Laws against Mental Abuse in Bangladesh
Nahar and Alif have been married for five years. Two years into the marriage, Nahar started to feel depressed. Alif constantly criticized everything from the way she looked and her inability to cook and clean. He made her quit her job by continuous character assassination.
Nahar started to question her abilities and went into isolation from her disturbed mental state. He never raised his hands on her so she failed to understand the magnitude of the wrong that was being done to her. There were no physical scars that were emblematic to the abuse that she was undergoing but what about the emotional scars that plunged her into the depth of darkness?
If you were Nahar, what would you do?
According to the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2010, psychological misconduct includes verbal abuse, insults, neglect, threat that leads to mental disturbance or even harassment. This has been defined in section 3 of the Act.
6 months to 2 years imprisonment or fine from TK 10,000 to 1 lac.
You can report to your nearest police station or alternatively you can seek help from the national help line for violence against women and children. The help line number is 109 and it is a toll free number that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The helpline center offers legal advice, police assistance and in addition, there is also a psychosocial counsellor to give telephone counselling service. After being aware of the problem, the help line center immediately communicates the service provider of the victim’s area and coordinate things at the earliest.
Is Anyone Blackmailing You Online With Photos?
Maya had a boyfriend with whom she was soon to be married. Both families went as far as to fix the day and date of the wedding.
Maya discovers that her soon to be husband has ill intentions and is unfaithful. Consequently, she breaks up with him and calls off the marriage.
It soon transpires, that the boyfriend has circulated a morphed photoshopped image of Maya on social media inbox to his friends. Maya’s face was put in obscene images.
There was also a video on pornographic websites of Maya changing her clothes, which he recorded secretly without her knowing.
She was also asked for an amount of TK 10 lakhs if she wanted the videos to disappear and save her reputation.
If you were Maya what would you do?
Step 1 : Where to complain ?
Nearest Police Station. As the offence is cognizable, complain will be lodged under Section 8(1) and 8(2) of Pornography Control Act 2012 , Section 29(1) of the Digital Security Act 2018 . This will be deemed as a FIR under S 154 of CRPC 1898, and in colloquial language, it will be the initiation of a “CASE”. The police officer in charge has the power to investigate and make arrests without a court order and warrant. The police officer noting down the complaint must read it out to complainant after it is recorded, in order to ensure that the statement provided is correct. Only after that Maya should sign the FIR.
Step 2: Court proceedings
Police will investigate, submit report to the court. Maya will have to testify at trial and follow up through out the judicial process.
Step 3: Redress
If Maya’s case is proven in a court of law/tribunal, then the accused will be sentenced to
- S8(1) of PCA 2012 -rigorous imprisonment of upto 7 years and upto Taka 2 lakh fine
- S8(2) of PCA 2012 -rigorous imprisonment of upto 5 years and upto Taka 2 lakh fine
- S8(2) of PCA 2012 – rigorous imprisonment of upto 5 years and upto Taka 2 lakh fine
- S29(1) of Digital Security act 2018 3 years imprisonment or upto 5 lakh Taka Fine or Both