Context – Consumer Protection Act 2019
On 20th of July, 2020 the new Consumer Protection Act 2019 has come into force. The Consumer Protection Act 2019 seeks to replace the earlier Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
The new act revamps the consumer protection framework of the country completely by making the process under the act swift and less time consuming. The importance of the act lies in the establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority; rules for prevention of unfair trade practice by e-commerce platforms and introduction of concept of product liability.
Earlier Act of 1986
The government has brought Consumer protection act in the year 1986, however, with the need of change in time and growth of online e- commerce platforms, need for a complete overhaul in the consumer protection architecture of the country was required, thus, the government taking into account such factors enacted the Consumer Protection Act 2019.
The act of 1986 had a three – tier consumer dispute redressal mechanism, in which redressal commissions were established at national level as National Consumer Dispute Redress Commission, and at State level commission and District level fora.
Important Features of the Consumer Protection Act 2019
- Establishment of CCPA – the act of 2019 provides for establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority. CCPA will enforce the consumers’ rights and protect and promote the same. CCPA is empowered to investigation complaints of violation of consumers’ rights, to recall of unsafe goods & services, to impose penalties etc.
- Rules of E-commerce – the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules 2020 will be mandatory rules. Government will notify the rule on e- commerce, which on a broader scheme aim at empowering consumer in making informed choices and decisions. Broadly it will cover aspects of information on return, refund, exchange, delivery, warranty/ guarantee, grievance redressal, payment, security of payment, country of origin etc. E-commerce platform will appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer, it will acknowledge any complaint within 48 hrs and provide redressal within a month of time.
- The e-commerce rules providing obligatory redressal of issue, in case goods or services are defective or deficient or lack something which was promised by the seller.
- E – commerce platforms will be prohibited from manipulating prices to gain unfair advantages.
- Provisions on Product Liability – it refers to liability of goods or service provider for any injury or damage caused by the defective or deficient goods or services. Product liability will include defects like manufacturing defects, wrong specifications, warranty issues, deficient services etc.
- Alternate Dispute Resolution Mediation – under this mediation process has been provided for complaints where scope of mediation exists and both the parties agree to the mediation. For this purpose, a Mediation Cell will be established under the Consumer Commissioner and there is no provision of appeal against the mediation settlements.
- Complaint can also be filed electronically as per the defined jurisdiction. The new act empowers the States and District commissions to review their own orders.
- Consumer Welfare Fund – in case of unidentified consumers the amount recovered or otherwise will be credited in this fund.
- Fee – for filing cases of value rupee up to 5 lakh there will be no fee charged.
- Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC) – it will be an advisory body on various consumer issues. This body will be headed by the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs and Minister of State will be vice chair of this council, along with 34 other members from diverse fields.
Punishment Under the Act of 2019
The act also provides penal provisions for manufacture or sale of Adulterated/ spurious goods, which in case of first instance will amount to suspension of licence up to 3 years and on subsequent instances may be increased to permanent suspension of license.
|Consumer Protection Act 1986||Consumer Protection Act 2019|
|E – Commerce – No Provision.||E – Commerce – covered.|
|Complaint could be filed in the jurisdictional place where seller is located.||Complaint can be filed in the jurisdictional place where consumer is located.|
|Product liability – NA.||Product liability – provision in the law.|
|Regulator – No separate.||Regulator – Central Consumer Protection Authority.|
|Pecuniary limits, in Rupees – District – 20 Lakh State – 20 lakh to 1 crore National – above 1 crore||Pecuniary limits, in Rupees – District – 1 crore State – 1 to 10 crores National – above 10 crores|