Every person need essentials for their survival in this world. Essentials of a person is food, clothes, house, electrical goods etc. Every person is a consumer in this world. As every person depends upon other person for products. Why do we need consumer protection act 2019? The consumer is connected to the economy. Higher the consumer consume higher the demand of the product will increase higher the growth in the economy as the economy grows the GDP will also rise. If the consumer suffer problems in the product he purchased then he will be a restrictive buyer.
Consumer purchase products or avail/ heir service from manufacturers, traders, seller, service provider. It’s a right of every consumer to known the correct information, quality, quantity, advertisement, and service etc of the products and services. But if the consumer found the defects in goods brought by him or deficiency in the services provided by manufactures, traders, sellers, service provider. The consumer intimate the same to the manufactures, traders, sellers, service provider but they refused to entertain the consumer problem. The consumer has the right to file a case as per the consumer protection act 2019.
History of the Act
Prior to Consumer Protection Act, 2019 there was Consumer Protection Act 1986 which have their own limitations as per the modern India is concerned. The Parliament passed the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 on 06.08.2019 to replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (“1986 Act”). The President of India gave its assent to the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (“2019 Act”) on 09.08.2019 and the same will come into force on the date 20th July 2019 by the Central Government. The 2019 Act has been enacted for the purpose of providing timely and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes and related matters.
The Government instead of bringing an amendment in the 1986 Act, enacted a new Act altogether so as to provide enhanced protection to the consumers taking into consideration the booming e-commerce industry and the modern methods of providing goods and services such as online sales, tele-shopping, direct selling and multi-level marketing in addition to the traditional methods.
Features of Consumer Protection Act 2019
In this new act the definition of the consumer is broadly defined the word ‘consumer’. The definition now 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.
- Central Consumer Protection Authority
In the old act there was Consumer Protection Council in three levels District, State and Central they advise on promoting the protection of consumer rights at all the three levels. There was also commission on all the three levels. In the new act they have established Central Consumer Protection Authority to regulate the matters relating to violations of consumer right, unfair trade practices, misleading advertisement and also to promote, protect enforce the right of consumers
The composition of Central Consumer Protection Authority is established by Central Government as he appoints Chief Commissioner and Commissioners for the regulation of the authority. The headquarters are located in Delhi but the branches can be establish at any part of India. The qualifications, salary etc of the Chief Commissioner and Commissioners are decided by Central Government.
Central Consumer Protection Authority shall protect, promote, enforce consumer’s rights, prevent violations of consumer rights, prevent unfair trade practices, and ensure no false or misleading advertisement and no publications of such advertisements.
Central Consumer Protection Authority may inquire or investigate on complaint or suo motu, File complaint before district/state/national Commission. Intervene in proceedings before district/state/ national commission for allegation of violations of consumer rights or unfair trade practices. Review the matter relating to consumer rights. Recommend adoption of International Covenants for effective implementation of consumer right. Promote research for consumer protection so that they can amend the law, They can also issue notices to alert consumers They can advise ministers departments of central/ state Government on consumer welfare measures.
- Pecuniary Jurisdiction
In the new act the jurisdiction of all the three commission are widen up as compared to the old act. As per this act the consumer can claim the amount in the commission as follows :
District commission – From 20 lakhs to 1 cr.
State Commission – From 1cr to 10cr.
National Commission – Above 20 cr.
If the judgement is against any of the two party in District commission then they can appeal to state commission against the judgement passed by the district commission and then to if we are not satisfied by the judgement of state commission then we can appeal to National commission and then we can appeal to Supreme Court if the national commission judgement is not satisfactory.
- Mediation Cells
Just like Alternative Dispute Resolution if both the party agree they can go for mediation. Mediation is a process where both the party sit with each other and solve the problem and come to a common conclusion which is agreed by both the parties. There will be a mediator to guide them. The time limit for solving the dispute by mediation is 3 month it can be extended by the permission of court. There will be no appeal when it is concluded by mediation process.
- Flexibility in filing
This act provide the flexibility to the consumer for filing the case as it was not provided in the old act. Let’s assume Mr. A purchased a product from Mumbai as he visited in Mumbai for the 1st time then he arrived to his hometown which is Delhi when is opened the product the product was not up to the mark as told by the shopkeeper. When Mr. A called the shopkeeper in Mumbai he doesn’t answered it well so now Mr. A want to file a complaint against the shopkeeper who is in Mumbai. As per the old act Mr. A should file the complaint in Mumbai itself as the cause of action raised is in Mumbai. But as per new act Mr. A can file the complaint in Delhi too.
- 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. There are increased liability risks for manufacturers as compared to product service providers and product sellers, considering that under the New Act, manufacturers will be liable in product liability action even where he proves that he was not negligent or fraudulent in making the express warranty of a product. Certain exceptions have been provided under the New Act from liability claims, such as, that the product seller will not be liable where the product has been misused, altered or modified.
- Penalties for Misleading Advertisement
Endorsement are huge part of the advertising industry, commands about 24% total advertisement expenditure
Jail –upto 2 years, Fine – upto 10 lakh for 1st offence
Jail- upto 5 years, fine – 50 lakhs
Fine – upto 10 lakh for and a year ban for 1st offence
Fine – 50 lakhs and ban upto 3 years
Fine upto 10 Lakh found guilty
As per the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Rules, there will be no fee for filing cases up to Rs. 5 lakh.
The credit of the amount due to unidentifiable consumers will go to the Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF).
State Commissions will furnish information to the Central Government on a quarterly basis on vacancies, disposal, the pendency of cases and other matters.
Apart from these general rules, there are Central Consumer Protection Council Rules, provided for the constitution of the Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC).
It will be 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.
It will have a three-year tenure and will have Minister-in-charge of consumer affairs from two States from each region- North, South, East, West, and North-East Region.
The Consumer Protection Act 2019 proves that the Consumer is the king. The doctrine of ‘Caveat Emptor’ or let the buyer beware which came into existence in the middle ages had been replaced by the principle of Consumer Sovereignty.