CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT

Consumer protection act 2019 

It majorly defines that the safeguarding the interest of people buyers and good and services of the public against the unfair trade practices in the market place.

Consumer protection makes markets work for both businesses and consumers. Consumers need to be able to obtain accurate, unbiased information about the products and services they purchase. This enables them to make the best choices based on their interests and prevents them from being mistreated or misled by businesses.

Covers E-Commerce Transactions: The New Act has widened the definition of ‘consumer’. It includes any person who buys any goods, whether through offline or online transactions, electronic means, teleshopping, direct selling or multi-level marketing.

The earlier Act did not specifically include e-commerce transactions, and this lacuna has been addressed by the New Act.

Enhancement of Pecuniary Jurisdiction: Revised pecuniary limits have been fixed under the New Act. Accordingly, the district forum can now entertain consumer complaints where the value of goods or services paid does not exceed INR 10,000,000 (Indian Rupees Ten Million). The State Commission can entertain disputes where such value exceeds INR 10,000,000 (Indian Rupees Ten Million) but does not exceed INR 100,000,000 (Indian Rupees One Hundred Million), and the National Commission can exercise jurisdiction where such value exceeds INR 100,000,000 (INR One Hundred Million).

E-Filing of Complaints: The New Act provides flexibility to the consumer to file complaints with the jurisdictional consumer forum located at the place of residence or work of the consumer. This is unlike the current practice of filing it at the place of purchase or where the seller has its registered office address. The New Act also contains enabling provisions for consumers to file complaints electronically and for hearing and/or examining parties through video-conferencing. This is aimed to provide procedural ease and reduce inconvenience and harassment for the consumers.

Establishment of Central Consumer Protection Authority: The New Act proposes the establishment of a regulatory authority known as the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), with wide powers of enforcement. The CCPA will have an investigation wing, headed by a Director-General, which may conduct inquiry or investigation into consumer law violations.

The CCPA has been granted wide powers to take suo-moto actions, recall products, order reimbursement of the price of goods/services, cancel licenses and file class action suits, if a consumer complaint affects more than 1 (one) individual.

Product Liability & Penal Consequences: The New Act has introduced the concept of product liability and brings within its scope, the product manufacturer, product service provider and product seller, for any claim for compensation. The term ‘product seller’ is defined to include a person who is involved in placing the product for a commercial purpose and as such would include e-commerce platforms as well. The defense that e-commerce platforms merely act as ‘platforms’ or ‘aggregators’ will not be accepted.

Unfair Trade Practices: The New Act introduces a specific broad definition of Unfair Trade Practices, which also includes sharing of personal information given by the consumer in confidence, unless such disclosure is made in accordance with the provisions of any other law.

Penalties for Misleading Advertisement: The New Act fixes liability on endorsers considering that there have been numerous instances in the recent past where consumers have fallen prey to unfair trade practices under the influence of celebrities acting as brand ambassadors. In such cases, it becomes important for the endorser to take the onus and exercise due diligence to verify the veracity of the claims made in the advertisement to refute liability claims.

Provision for Alternate Dispute Resolution: The New Act provides for mediation as an Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism, making the process of dispute adjudication simpler and quicker. This will help with the speedier resolution of disputes and reduce pressure on consumer courts, who already have numerous cases pending before them.

SOME BASIC CONSUMER RIGHTS WE ALL MUST KNOW

Right to basic needs

Right to safety

Right to information

Right to choose

Right to representation

Right to redress

Right to consumer education

Right to healthy environment

CONCLUSION:

The Act is for the protection of the interest and rights of the consumers and this spirit has been reflected in its provisions. The inclusion of e-commerce has broadened the scope of the Act, making it easier for the consumers to hold food aggregators liable for the violation of their rights.

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