Centre nudges 112 top firms to sign up for ‘right to repair’

An electronic product that cannot be repaired, or falls under planned obsolescence, not only becomes e-waste, but also forces consumers to spend unnecessarily. (REUTERS)
An electronic product that cannot be repaired, or falls under planned obsolescence, not only becomes e-waste, but also forces consumers to spend unnecessarily. (REUTERS)


The Indian government has called on 112 companies, including Maruti Suzuki, Volkswagen and Philips, to ensure consumers have the right to repair their products and prevent planned obsolescence.

New Delhi: The government has asked 112 companies across electronics, farm equipment, automobiles, and white goods sectors to ensure that consumers enjoy the right to repair their products, a top official said. The move aims to tackle the corporate malpractice of making products artificially obsolete.

The list of companies includes Volkswagen Group Sales India Pvt. Ltd, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, MG Motor India Pvt. Ltd, TVS Motor Co. Ltd, Havells India Ltd, Philips India Ltd, Voltas Ltd, Whirlpool of India Ltd, John Deere, Sonalika Tractors, Escorts Ltd, New Holland Agriculture, (Royal Enfield) Eicher Motors Ltd, Blue Star Ltd, BPL Ltd, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co. Ltd, and Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals Ltd.

The move seeks to prevent the practice of some companies stopping supply of spare parts and servicing to force consumers to buy new products. Planned obsolescence as a trade practice is adopted largely by makers of electronic devices.

An electronic product that cannot be repaired, or falls under planned obsolescence, not only becomes e-waste, but also forces consumers to spend unnecessarily, the official quoted above said on the condition of anonymity.

“You (manufacturers) are making money because of consumers. So, take care of their interests. We are starting with electronics, farming equipment, automobiles and white goods. These are the sectors in which consumers face trouble the most," the official added.

Many consumers face issues in service and repair of their products, including non-availability of spare parts, exorbitant prices of such parts, and denial of repair service. Hence, there is a need to ensure that when a consumer buys a product, she has full ownership of the product and in case of repair, the legal rights of consumers are not restricted, the official said.

The Union consumer affairs department on Tuesday wrote to these companies to join a government initiative to check the practice of artificially limiting the useful life of products. Prior to the latest drive, 41 companies, including Hyundai Motor India Ltd, Bajaj Electricals, Havells, Samsung India Electronics Pvt. Ltd, and Apple India Pvt. Ltd, had joined the “right to repair" initiative.

The department’s Right To Repair portal launched last December provides easy access to information for the repair and service of the products, with the objective of replacing the prevalent use-and-dispose economy with a circular economy through the reduce, reuse, and recycle (R3) concept.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched Mission LIFE (Lifestyle for the Environment) which envisions mindful and deliberate utilization instead of mindless and wasteful consumption. It also stipulates the R3 concept, Union consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh explained, in response to a query from Mint.

“The Prime Minister in the recent B20 Summit said that a profitable market can be sustained when there is a balance in the interests of producers and consumers. Hence, making all the stakeholders equal partners in the Right to Repair campaign is the best way forward," Singh said.

“Getting products repaired in a timely way is a consumer right that is broadly covered under the existing legal framework. However, enforcing it is a challenge. What adds to the complexity is the unequal bargaining power individual consumers have against the original equipment manufacturer in getting their rights honoured. Given that consumers are widely dispersed, giving power back to the consumers by consolidating their voice requires the involvement of grass roots level consumer organizations," explained Amol Kulkarni, director of research at CUTS International, a non-profit, non-governmental organization working on public interest issues.

More companies on the Right to Repair portal will enable consumers to be better informed with regard to the repairability of their products and reduce e-waste, but also strengthen the strategic partnership with all stakeholders.

The government will later approach more companies across different sectors to be part of the initiative that will promote a less carbon-intensive and circular economy while reducing e-waste.

There were no formal response to queries sent on Thursday to the companies till press time.

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