India Right to Repair

India plans its own Right to Repair framework. Here’s what it means for tech in the country.

India has proposed a law following the right to repair movement. The law would allow consumers to reduce their reliance on the big tech companies and give them the ability to get their devices repaired by third parties. 

A committee has been formed, by the Department of Consumer Affairs which is currently looking at possible ways to implement this in the country. A framework would be built which will provide defined guidelines for the companies about repairs of their devices.

The Committee chaired by Nidhi Khare, additional secretary of consumer affairs includes industry bodies and stakeholders, including the likes of India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) and Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), as well as various other consumer activists and organisations.

“The pertinent issues highlighted during the meeting include companies avoiding the publication of manuals that can help users make repairs easily,” the ministry said in a statement.

The framework once implemented would be positioned in such a way that it will be helpful to consumers in the local market and “Harmonise trade between Orignal equipment manufacturers and the third-party buyers and sellers”. This move by the government would also help reduce e-waste generation in the country and create many jobs.

The ministry also stated “Once it is rolled out in India, it will become a game-changer both for the sustainability of the products and as well as serve as a catalyst for employment generation, Over a period of time it has been observed that the Right to Repair is getting severely restricted, and not only there is a considerable delay in repair but at times the products are repaired at an exorbitantly high price and the consumer who has once bought the product is hardly given any choice,”.

During a meeting the following issues were discussed as those to be addressed by the framework development.

  • Companies avoid publishing manuals that can help users make repairs.
  • Manufacturers have proprietary control over spare parts which lends them monopoly on repair processes. This is an infringement of the “customer’s right to choose”.
  • The loss of customer’s right to claim warranty if they purchase a product from an unofficial store because of lack of digital warranty cards.
  • The problems and controversies surrounding Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Technological Protection Measure (TPM).

The right to repair has been gaining popularity around the world as governments across the globe look to rein in anti-competitive policies of tech companies and promote sustainability.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted unanimously to enforce Right to Repair last year and directed manufacturers to allow consumers to make repairs, either themselves or by a third-party agency.

The UK also passed a law last year that directs electronic appliance manufacturers to make spare parts available to people buying electrical appliances.

Apple has also moved to self service repair last year allowing users to fix certain issues in their devices.

The European Union believes that a proper “right to repair” will give repairers and consumers access to repair and maintenance information, free of charge. It has adopted two resolutions and is considering a separate legislative proposal in the third quarter of 2022.