Consumer Protection Act 2019
The Consumer Protection Act was originally enacted in 1986 by the Parliament of India to protect the interests of consumers in India. It was amended in the year 2000. Further streamlining and amendment were proposed vide Consumer Protection Bill 2019. Presidential assent was given on 9th August 2019 and most of the sections shall be effective from 20th July 2020.
Some of the key amendments include:
- Amendments in key definitions –
“Consumer” – The definition of ‘Consumer’ has been widened to include any person who buys goods offline or online through electronic transactions, teleshopping etc.“Unfair trade practice” – A new definition has been introduced which includes
- “E-Commerce” has been brought under the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act for the first time. Buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over digital or electronic network will be covered under the Act.
- Revised pecuniary Limits – The new Act has enhanced the pecuniary limits for each consumer forum:
District Forum – where value of goods / services does not exceed Rs 1 Crore
State Commission: where value of goods/services is between Rs. 1 Crore and Rs. 10 Crores
National Commission: where value of goods / services is
- Central Consumer Protection Authority – The amended Act proposes to establish a Central Authority called the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) regulate matters relating to violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of public and consumers and to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.The CCPA has wide powers – from taking suo motu actions to conducting inquiry / investigation into alleged consumer law violations, re-calling products and cancelling licences. It also has the authority to file class action suit if a group of consumers are affected.
- E-filing of Complaints – The CPA 2019 has introduced the facility of electronic / online filing of complaint(s) by the consumer located either at residence or workplace of the consumer. The Act also enables hearing or examining of concerned parties online through video conferencing. These provisions ensure greater flexibility and avoids loss of time for the consumer.
- Alternate Dispute Resolution – The Act introduces mediation as a tool of alternate dispute resolution. Not only does this make the resolution simpler and faster, it also reduced the burden of cases on consumer courts.
- Product Liability – This concept is new and aims to bring within the ambit of liability, the product or service manufacturers and sellers. In particular, Product sellers include e-commerce portals and websites as well for the purpose of ascertaining product liability.
- Penalties – The Act has imposed severe monetary penalties as well as imprisonment especially for false and misleading advertisement. Penalties range from Rs.10 lakhs to Rs. 50 lakhs for first time as well as repeat offences. Similarly, imprisonment ranges from 2 years to 5 years. The Act also fixes responsibility on endorsers of products / services as there have been several instances of consumer purchases influenced by celebrities endorsing such products / services. The Act seeks to fix onus of liability on the endorser as well as it is their responsibility to check veracity of claims made of products / services being endorsed by them.
The new Act seeks to replace the previous Act. It is evident that the government has out in place some key provisions / amendments after taking into consideration all concerns of consumers. It has more than plugged various loopholes of the previous Act. Besides introducing structural changes in consumer courts and easing certain procedural changes by introducing e-filing of documents, the Act has created a central authority – CCPA to monitor all cases and put in place stringent penalties to deter false advertising/ endorsing / manufacturing and selling of products and services. One thing is clear. Consumer is the king.
For Notification on the Consumer Protection Act: