Committee identifies farming equipment, cell phones, consumer durables among sectors for policy
The Department of Consumer Affairs, in a statement on Thursday, said it has set up a committee chaired by Nidhi Khare, an additional secretary, to develop a framework on ‘Right to Repair‘. The committee first met on Wednesday to identify sectors for the right.
The sectors identified include farming equipment, mobile phones/ tablets, consumer durables, and automobiles/automobile equipment. According to the ‘Right to Repair’ concept, customers must own a product completely after purchase. “…consumers should be able to repair and modify the product with ease and at reasonable cost, without being captive to the whims of manufacturers for repairs”, according to the statement.
The framework proposes to empower consumers, harmonise trade between the original equipment manufacturers and the third-party buyers and sellers, and reduce e-waste, the statement said.
The rationale behind the ‘Right to Repair’ is that when customers buy a product, it is inherent that they must own it completely “for which the consumers should be able to repair and modify the product with ease and at reasonable cost, without being captive to the whims of manufacturers for repairs”, according to the statement.
However, manufacturers usually retain proprietary control over spare parts, including their design, and the government feels that this kind of monopoly on repair processes infringes the customer’s “right to choose”.
“Manufacturers are encouraging a culture of ‘planned obsolescence’. This is a system whereby the design of any gadget is such that it lasts a particular time only and after that particular period it has to be mandatorily replaced. When contracts fail to cede full control to the buyer-the legal right of owners are damaged,” the committee in its first meeting said.
A survey by LocalCircles, a community network, found earlier 43 per cent of the households in India have three or more devices or gadgets that are less than five-year old and need service or repair.
The right to repair has been recognised in many countries across the globe, including the US, UK and European Union.
In the US, the Federal Trade Commission has directed manufacturers to remedy unfair anti-competitive practices and asked them to make sure that consumers can make repairs, either themselves or by a third-party agency.