The newly enacted Consumer Protection Act comes to force from Monday, i.e. 20thJuly, replacing the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The 1986 Act was more that three decades old.
The new law is aimed at protecting consumers against errant manufacturers, distributors, and sellers. It empowers district and state consumer courts to take better action against malpractices regarding transactions affecting consumers directly or indirectly.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public distribution, has issued a notification on 16th of this month. By which, Central Government appointed 20thJuly as the date on which following provisions of the Act shall come into force.
- Section 2 [Except clauses (4), (13), (14), (16), (40)]
- Sections 3 to 9 (both inclusive)
- Sections 28 to 73 (both inclusive)
[Except sub-clause (iv) of clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 58]
- Sections 74 to 81 (both inclusive)
- Sections 82 to 87 (both inclusive)
- Sections 90 and 91 [Except sections 88,89,92 & 93]
- Sections 95, 98, 100, Section 101 [except clauses (f) to (m) and clauses (zg), (zh) and (zi) of sub –section 2 ]
- Sections 102, 103, 105, 106, 107 [except sections 94, 96,97,99, 104]
The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019
The bill was introduced in the Upper House of the Parliament on July 8, 2019. The same was introduced by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan. It was passed on July 30, 2019, by the Lok Sabha and later cleated by Rajya Sabha on August 6, 2019. The Bill was signed into law by President Ram Vilas Paswan on August 9 last year.
Changes brought under the new Act:
Six consumer rights have been defined in the newly enacted law. It includes the right to:
(i) be protected against marketing of goods & service which are hazardous to life & property.
(ii) be informed of quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard & price of goods or services.
(iii) be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices.
(iv) seek redressal against unfair/restrictive trade practices.
The central government will set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority to promote, protect, and enforce the rights of consumers. The CCP will regulate matters related to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices & misleading advertisements. It will have an investigation wing, headed by a Director-General, which may conduct inquiry or investigation into such violations.
For false or misleading advertisement, manufacturer will be liable up to 10 lakh and up to two years of imprisonment. In case of subsequent offense, the fine may extend to Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to five years. There is no provision for jail for celebrities but could be banned for endorsing products if found to be misleading. For first time there will be an exclusive law dealing with Product Liability. Manufacturer or product service provider/seller will be responsible to compensate for injuries caused by defective product or deficiency in services.
The Bill also:
simplified dispute resolution process, has provision for Mediation and e-filing of cases. The Consumer will be able to file cases in nearest commission under the jurisdiction of which he resides. Consumers can file complaints from anywhere & they do not need to hire lawyer to represent their cases. For mediation, there will be strict timeline fixed in the rules.
There will also be Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) set up at the district, state, and national levels. A consumer can file complaint with CDRCs in relation-
- unfair or restrictive trade practices
- defective goods or services
- overcharging or deceptive charging, and
- the offering of goods or services for sale which may be hazardous to life and safety.
The District CDRC will entertain complaints where the value of goods & services does not exceed Rs 1 crore. The State CDRC will entertain complaints when the value is more than Rs 1 crore but does not exceed Rs 10 crore. Complaints with the value of goods & services over Rs Ten crore will be entertained by the National CDRC.
Product liability provision to deter manufacturers & service providers from delivering defective products or deficient services. It also enables regulations to be notified on E-commerce & direct selling with focus on protection of interest of consumers.
Further guidelines to help seek redressals/compensations for faulty experiences of transactions from errant sellers, manufacturers, and distributors will be added.