Significant Consumer Protection Act 2019 implemented

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The Consumer Protection Act,2019 is implemented on 20th July 2020. In media about the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 through video conference, the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Shri Ram Vilas Paswan stated that this new Act will empower consumers and help them in protecting their rights through its various notified Rules and provisions. It includes Consumer Protection Councils, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions, Mediation, Product Liability and punishment for manufacture or sale of products containing adulterant / spurious goods.

         The Central Consumer Protection Authority CCPA will be empowered to conduct investigations into violations of consumer rights and institute complaints / prosecution, order recall of unsafe goods and services, order discontinuance of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements, impose penalties on manufacturers/endorsers/publishers of misleading advertisements.Shri Paswan further mentioned that the rules for prevention of unfair trade practice by e-commerce platforms will also be covered under this Act. The gazette notification for establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority and rules for prevention of unfair trade practice in e-commerce are under publication.

        Moreover he said that by this act every e-commerce entity is required to provide information and it’s form of execution and return data also. And additionally, it shows up the country of origin which are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage on its platform.  He said that e-commerce platforms have to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within 48 hours and reply to  the complaint within 1 month from the date of receipt under this Act. He further added that the New Act introduces the concept of product liability and brings within its scope, the product manufacturer, product service provider and product seller, for any claim for compensation.

       Shri Paswan further informed that the new Act provides for simplifying the consumer convenience to purchase, return, recovering amount and to make complaint through e-way. In consumer Commissions that have jurisdiction over the place of his residence, videoconferencing for hearing and deemed admissibility of complaints if the question of admissibility is not decided within the specified period of 21 days.

       The Minister added an Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism of Mediation has been offered in the new Act.  This will simplify the adjudication process.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.

      He said that according to the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Rules, there will be no fee for filing cases upto Rs. 5 lakh. There are provisions for filing complaints electronically, credit of amount due to unidentifiable consumers to Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF).

           Shri Paswan further informed that the New Act also commences 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 Act provides for punishment by a competent court for manufacture or sale of adulterant/spurious goods. The court may, in case of first conviction, suspend any licence issued to the person for a period of up to two years, and in case of second or subsequent conviction, cancel the licence.

            Under this new Act, additional with the general rules, there are Central Consumer Protection Council Rules, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Rules, Appointment of President & Members in State/District Commission Rules, Mediation Rules, Model Rules and E-Commerce Rules and Consumer Commission Procedure Regulations, Mediation Regulations and Administrative control over State Commission & District Commission Regulations.

        Shri Paswan mentioned that the Central Consumer Protection Council Rulesare provided for constitution of the Central Consumer Protection Council, an advisory body on consumer issues, 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.

              In his concluding remarks, Shri Paswan said that in earlier Consumer Protection Act, 1986a single point access to justice was given, which is also time consuming. The new act has been executed after many amendments to provide protection to buyers not only from traditional sellers but also from the new e-commerce retailers/platforms. He said that this Act will prove a significant tool in protecting consumer rights in the country.