Recently the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 was passed by both houses of Parliament. It’ll replace the Consumer Protection Bill, 1986. The Bill protects the rights of the consumer and provides a mechanism for redressal of complaints in the event of lack in faulty merchandise or services.
A Quick Look at the Consumer Protection Act 1986
To guard these rights of consumers, the Consumer Protection Act-1986 was enacted in 1986, which provides consumers rights about the usage of products and services. Under this Act, every person, including a firm, a Hindu undivided family and a company, buys to use the goods and services manufactured/manufactured by him, then he is entitled to fully utilize his consumer rights.
If any shopkeeper violates these rights of consumers, the consumer is free to take legal action against that shopkeeper in the Consumer Court.
Under the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the main 6 rights existed to the use of goods and services are given to consumers in India-
1) Right to Safety– Right to protection against all types of dangerous goods and services.
2) Right to be informed– The right to be informed about the performance and quality of all goods and services.
3) Right to Choice– The right to freedom to choose all goods and services.
4) Education Rights– The right to carry out independent consumer education services.
5) Right to Hearing– The right to be heard in all decision-making processes related to consumer interests.
6) Right to redress– The right to redress whenever the consumer’s rights are violated.
Since 1986, there has been a tremendous change in the consumer markets. Although, the relevance of the previous Act was decreasing due to the change in consumer markets. Therefore, a new and amended Act was needed to protect the valuable rights of the customer or consumer. Therefore, the Consumer Protection Rights 2019 comes into existence.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019: An Overview
What is the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (Meaning of Consumer Protection Act, 2019)
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is a law to protect the interests of consumers. This Act is very important for resolving a large number of pending consumer complaints in consumer courts across the country. It has the means and means to resolve consumer complaints faster.
What is the purpose of the Consumer Protection Act (Aim of Consumer Protection Act, 2019)
The basic objective of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, is to establish effective administration and necessary authority to timely solve the problems of consumers and protect the interests of consumers.
Key features of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019
1. Establishment of Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)
2. Rights of consumers
3. Restrictions and fines on misleading advertisements
4. Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
5. Jurisdiction under the Consumer Protection Act
Benefits of the Consumer Protection Act 2019 for Consumers
i) Currently, consumers have only one option for redressal of complaints, which takes more time. The Bill provides for quick justice throughout (CCPA) the Central Consumer Protection Authority.
ii) Due to misleading advertisements, there is confusion in the consumer, and their health is adversely affected due to adulteration of the products. There is a provision of harsh punishment for misleading advertisements and adulteration so as to reduce such cases.
iii) Providing responsibility for manufacturers and service providers to prevent faulty products or services, consumers will not have to spend much time investigating.
iv) Ease of contacting the Consumer Commission and simplification of the process.
v) There is a provision of rules for the current consumer market issues – e-commerce and direct selling.
The Brief Features of the Consumer Protection Act 2019
A person who purchases an item for his own use or receives a service is considered as a consumer. The person who acquires an item at resale and acquires a service or an item for commercial usage, does not include in this consumer category. This includes all forms of offline or online transactions done through teleshopping, direct purchase, digital purchase or even buy product through multi level marketing.
The bill outlines several consumer rights, including:
(i) To provide protection against the marketing of services and goods which are risky and unsafe towards life and property.
(ii) Knowledge of purity, quality, quantity, standard, and cost of products or services.
(iii) Assurance of giving products and services at reasonable market prices.
(iv) Seeking compensation if been through a situation of cheat and unfair trade.
Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)
This authority will handle the issues that come under consumer rights violations, misleading advertisements, and unfair trade. There will be an Investigation Wing (Investigation Wing) of the CCPA headed by the Director-General, who can investigate or investigate such violations.
CCPA will do the following
(i) Investigation, investigation, and violation of consumer rights and initiate legal proceedings at the appropriate stage.
(ii) Issuing orders for recall of risky goods or withdrawal of services, loading of paid price and closing of unfair trade.
(iii) Issuing an order to the responsible advertiser, trader endorser, and manufacturer provider for stopping or rectifying misleading or wrong advertising commercials.
(iv) To impose a penalty.
(v) Issue of safety notice to consumers against dangerous and unsafe goods and services.
Penalty for Misleading Advertisements
The CCPA can inflict a strict fine as far as 10 Lakhs on a producer or endorser for false or deceptive advertisements. Again, in the event of crime, the goodwill increase to Rs 50 lakh. The manufacturer also can face imprisonment up to two decades, which might extend to five years every time the crime is committed. The CCPA can also prohibit endorsers of deceptive ads from endorsing that specific product or support for a single year. The period of ban on committing a crime more than once can be extended by three years. Although, exceptions also exist when the trader shall not be considered a part of such punishment.
Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (CDRC)
CDRCs, this commission will probably be working at the district, national, and state levels. A consumer can lodge a complaint with the Commission regarding the following:
(i) Defective goods or services
(ii) Trade improper and prohibited methods
(iii) The goods or services which can be risky and unsafe to safety standards, life, and property.
(iv) Higher prices to recover or incorrectly priced siphoning to present for sale.
Complaints against improper contracts can only be filed in state and national CDRCs. The state CDRC will be heard against the order of the district CDRC. The national CDRC will be heard against the state CDRC order. The right of final appeal will be noticeable by the Supreme Court.
Jurisdiction of CDRCs
The district CDRC will always take the hearing of cases of complaints in which the value of services and goods by traders does not exceed one crore rupees.
The state CDRC will hear cases of complaints where the value of goods and services is more than one crore rupees but does not exceed 10 crore rupees.
Complaints related to goods and services worth more than Rs 10 crore will be heard by the National CDRC.
Product responsibility means the responsibility of the manufacturer, service provider, or seller of the product. It is his responsibility to compensate the consumer for any loss or damage caused by a bad item or service. To claim compensation, the consumer must prove at least one condition associated with the defect or defect mentioned in the bill.
Provision of punishment and treatment
1) If somebody doesn’t obey the orders of the District, State or National Commissions, then he could be sentenced to imprisonment for no less than one month and a maximum of 3 decades or with a fine of Rs 25,000 that can be levied on a Lakh rupees could be raised or else he might confront both the punishment.
2) A producer or endorser could be fined up to Rs 10 lakh for false and deceptive advertisements and might also face imprisonment for a maximum of 2 decades.
3) After this, the fine can be increased to Rs 50 lakh for committing the offense and the punishment can be increased up to five years. The guilty may likewise be penalized with both fine and punishment.
4) The CCPA can also prohibit endorsers of deceptive advertisements from endorsing a specific product or service for a time period up to a year.
5) The duration of the ban can be increased to three years each time committing a crime. There are exceptions when the endorser cannot be held liable for any such penalty.
6) The CCPA can also impose penalties for production, selling, preserving, distributing or importing adulterated goods. All these punishments are as follows: (I) If the consumer isn’t damaged, the penalty may be fine up to one lakh rupees and imprisonment for up to six weeks. (ii) in the event the harm is broken, the punishment is up to 3 lakh rupees and you can be imprisoned for up to a year. (iii) if serious injury is punishable with a fine around five lakh rupees and imprisonment up to seven decades. And there can be imprisonment of at least seven years which can be extended to life imprisonment.
7) The CCPA can also impose penalties for manufacturing, selling, storing, distributing, or importing fake goods. All these punishments are as follows: (i) in the event the harm is broken, the penalty may be fine up to 3 lakh rupees and imprisonment for up to a year. (ii) if serious injury is punishable with a fine of up to five lakhs and up to seven decades. There can be imprisonment, (iii) Penalty in the event of death can be a fine of ten lakh rupees or more and imprisonment of not less than seven years which can be extended to life imprisonment.
The structure and role of Consumer Protection Councils
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 determines Consumer Protection Councils (CPC) in the district, state, and federal rates as consulting bodies. The Zilla Parishad will be led by the District Collector.
Thus, these bodies must be consulted about the promotion and protection of consumer rights.
Cause for Discussion
Recently the Parliament has approved the Historical Consumer Protection Bill, 2019, and after the President’s signature, it has now taken the form of law.
The purpose of this Act is to establish an authority to resolve consumer disputes quickly and effectively. This bill will replace the more than three decades old ‘Consumer Protection Bill, 1986’. The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution states that this Act will simplify the process of grievance redressal of consumers, resulting in speedy redressal of consumer grievances and this will lead to the disposal of huge files of pending cases in consumer courts across the country Will help
With the rapid development of science and technology leading to the manufacture of uncomfortable products of high quality and high quality, there has been widespread skepticism among consumers to choose cheap and good products for their consumption.
People buy goods by relying on modern trading techniques and attractive advertisements, but it does not live up to their expectations. This problem is compounded by the lack of organizations to look after the interests of consumers. Keeping this situation in view, to protect the interests of the consumer, the institutional system was introduced in different countries which are called consumer rights.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 has been passed by the Parliament, raising hopes of consumer protection. There was a long debate in this bill about changes which have now been completed. Now this Act will give its support in the protection of the interests of the citizens.
Under this, consumer complaints will be heard at an accelerated pace, which will further the goals of the government’s good governance. This will also relieve the ill effects of poor quality goods on human health as this law will ban them.
However, there is also a truth that just by enacting the law does not solve any problem but there is a need to implement that law properly so that every citizen of the country gets the benefit of it. Also, there is a need to make consumers aware so that they can know and understand this law and reach the consumer forum for rights. With this, the government’s concept of a healthy citizen and a healthy country can be realized.