The Union government is working on a “Right to Repair” framework so that people can get goods such as consumer durables, phones and cars fixed on their own. Once rolled out in India, the framework will become a “game-changer” for the sustainability of the products and serve as a catalyst for employment generation.
- The average consumer purchases an electronic gadget, knowing that it will very quickly become obsolete as its manufacturer releases newer, shinier, and more amped up versions of the same device.
- As the device grows older, issues start to crop up — the smartphone may slow down to a point where it is almost unusable.
- When this happens, more often than not, the consumers are left at the mercy of manufacturers.
- These manufacturers make repairs inaccessible for most, dictate who can fix the device and thereby making it an inordinately expensive affair.
About the ‘Right to Repair Movement’ –
- Activists and organisations around the world have been advocating for the right of consumers to be able to repair their own electronics and other products as part of the ‘right to repair’ movement.
- The movement traces its roots back to the very dawn of the computer era in the 1950s.
- Objective — To get companies to make spare parts, tools and information on how to repair devices available to customers and repair shops to increase the lifespan of products and to keep them from ending up in landfills.
- The right to repair has been recognised in many countries across the globe, including the US, UK and the European Union.
- In the U.S., 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 third parties.
What argument does the tech companies give?
Tech giants contend that security and privacy concerns may crop up if products based on a technology patented by them are opened up by third parties. However, many countries have taken initiatives, adopted policies and even tried to enact legislation that recognise the “right to repair” to reduce electronic waste.
Right to repair in India –
- Monopoly on repair processes infringes the customer’s’ “right to choose” recognised by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
- Consumer disputes jurisprudence in the country has also partially acknowledged the right to repair. In Shamsher Kataria v Honda Siel Cars India Ltd (2017), for instance, the Competition Commission of India ruled that restricting the access of independent automobile repair units to spare parts by way of an end-user license agreement was anti-competitive. The CCI observed that the practice was detrimental to consumer welfare.