The main objective of this Act was to save the rights of the consumers by providing speedy and effective and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes.
Drawbacks of the old Consumer Protection Act, 1986 are given below :
- Unprotected Consumer
- Expensive and time-consuming judicial proceedings
- Ununited and nonawareness of consumer
- Tolerance capacity of consumer
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019
- Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) : It is an investigatory wing which will be headed by Director-General. CCPA will empowered to conduct investigations into violation of the following points :-
- Consumer rights and institute complaints / prosecution.
- Order recall of unsafe goods and services.
- Order discontinuance of unfair trade practice and misleading advertisement.
- Impose penalties on manufacturers/endorsers/publishers of misleading advertisement.
- Rules on e-commerce and direct selling: According to the new Consumer Protection Act, 2019 all the e-commerce entity has to give information to the consumer which relates to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, the security of payment methods, charge packs options and country of origin. This information is necessary to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage on its platform.
E-commerce platforms have to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within 48 hours of the complaint and redress it within one month from the date of receipt.
The definition of ‘Consumer’ in the new Act includes any person who purchases any goods either through online or offline transactions, electronic means, teleshopping, direct selling, or multi-level marketing.
The new Act enables the consumer to file the complaint electronically and for hearing or examining the party’s video conferencing. This was introduced in the new Act procedural ease and reduce the inconvenience of the consumer.
- Product liability : The Act has introduced a concept of ‘product liability’ which covers the product liability action may be brought by a complaint against a product manufacturer, product service provider or product seller for selling defective product or for deficiency in service.
Product liability action can be taken on the basis of following points:
- Manufacturing and design defect
- Not conforming the express warranty
- Deviation from manufacturing specifications
- Failing to contain adequate instruction for correct use
- service provided: faulty, imperfect or defective
- Punishment for Manufacture or Sale of Adulterated or Spurious Goods : The competent court in case of first suspicion may suspend any license issued to that manufacturer, product seller, product service provider for a period of up to 2 years and in case of second or multiple conviction may cancel the license.
- Mediation: In the new Act Alternate Dispute Resolution has been provided for the simplification of adjudication process. The Dispute can be resolve either in whole or in parts. A complaint will be referred by a Consumer Commission for mediation wherever scope for early settlement exists and parties agree for it. Mediation will be held in the Mediation Cells to be established under the aegis of the Consumer Commissions. There will be no appeal against settlement through mediation.
- Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission and its Jurisdiction : The new Act provides the provision of the establishment of Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (CDRC) at state, district and national level.
CDRC will be empowered to take complaints related to:-
- Overcharging or deceptive charging
- Sale of defective goods or services
- Unfair or restrictive trade practices
- Sale of hazardous goods and services which may be hazardous to life
The District CDRC will hear the complaints when the value of goods and service when the complaints is up to Rs 1 crore. The State CDRC will entertain the complaints when the value is more than Rs 1 crore but less than Rs 10 crore. The National CDRC will hear the complaints of more than Rs 10 crore.
Other Key Features of the New Consumer Protection Act,2019
- As per the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Rules, there will be no fee for filing cases up to Rs. 5 lakh.
- There are provisions for filing complaints electronically, credit of amount due to unidentifiable consumers to Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF).
- Central Government on quarterly basis will provide information to the State Commission relating to vacancies, disposal, pendency of case and other matters.
- An advisory body on consumer issues which will be headed by the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution with the Minister of State as Vice Chairperson and 34 other members from different fields.
- The Council which has a three-year tenure will have Minister-in-charge of consumer affairs from two States from each region- North, South, East, West, and NER.
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This article is written by Tanya Singh and edited by Rupreet Kaur Dhariwal.