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The Editorial Analysis: Upholding the Right to Repair


Right to repair UPSC: Relevance

  • GS 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Right to repair law: Context

  • Recently, New York state of U.S. passed the Fair Repair Act, which requires manufacturers to supply repair information, tools, and parts to independent repair shops and not just their own stores or partners.


What is right to repair?

  • Right to repair meaning: Right to repair is the legal concept that allows consumers to repair the products they buy or choose their own service providers instead of going through the manufacturer.
  • The rationale behind the “right to repair” is that the individual who purchases a product must own it completely.
  • This implies that apart from being able to use the product, consumers must be able to repair and modify the product the way they want to.




Right to repair new york: Key points

  • It provides consumers with the right to repair and refurbish their purchased goods.
  • With access to relevant tools and repair manuals, independent repair shops will finally be able to compete with manufacturers.
  • While this is a victory for consumer rights, privacy, security and quality concerns along with blatant intellectual property (IP) rights violations of the manufacturers cannot be sidelined.


Right to repair: Scope of the right

  • Complex machinery: We use complex machinery as compared to the past. For instance, air conditioners have largely replaced fans and coolers. An entire repair class is denied its right to conduct business as it does not have the tools, parts, guidelines and technical know-how to repair these high-tech products.
  • Lack of certification: Further, the lack of certification/licensing of repair workers is seen as a reflection of their lack of skills.
  • Quality of the product: Manufacturers claim that the quality and functioning of the product might be adversely affected if they allow repairs by consumers and third parties. The fear of manufacturers is so potent that they incorporate warranty clauses which lapse when the product is repaired by a third party.
  • Manufacturers reduce the durability of the product, compelling consumers to either repurchase the product or get it repaired at exorbitant prices affixed by the manufacturers.




Right to repair India: Recommendations

  • A repair certification/licence can be allotted to those who pass certain criteria and skill tests. In addition to protecting their right to livelihood, it may also prove beneficial as tech companies are required to share their repair manuals with certified technicians.
  • While necessary clauses to maintain the quality of the product can be included, a blanket waiver should be avoided. For instance, the quality assurance clause can be incorporated for use of company-recommended spare parts and certified repair shops.
  • Manufacturers can sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect the IP with the certified repairers/businesses. Customers with access to genuine parts may also approach independent repair providers who may not offer the original manufacturer’s warranty but their own warranty.


Consumer Protection Act

  • Section 2(9) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is about the right to obtain information about the quality of the product, the right to procure products at reasonable prices, and the right to seek redress against unscrupulous practices. It means the ‘right to repair’ can be said to be implicit to the Act.
  • The product liability clause under Section 84 needs to be amended and expanded to impose product liability concerning various reparability parameters of the product. The duration of imposing product liability may vary depending on the product and its longevity.


Right to repair India: Way forward

  • The provision of right to repair needs to be explicitly guaranteed either by amending the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 or through a separate law to not only acknowledge the right to repair of consumers but also respond to the corresponding rights of the manufacturers.


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