Introduction of The Consumer Protection Act, 2019About the Author:Bhumi AgrawalFinal Year student, B.B.A. LL.B,New law College, BVP, Pune
It is said that consumer is the king of the market and to uphold this, the consumer protection act, 2019 has come into force from 20th July 2020 to give more power to the consumers and to protect so that in no way the consumer is being harassed by the dominant position of the trader and manufacturer.
Key features of the 2019 Act
1. Introduction of the Central Consumer Protection Authority
A long-awaited and very celebrated introduction in the 2019 Act is CCPA which is an administrative body that will work solely for the interest of consumers. In the past, no specific body was formed exclusively for consumer welfare. The CCPA is highly empowered and can take suo moto actions for any wrong done to consumers. Earlier no person other than a consumer could initiate a suit against any seller or producer, but the CCPA is granted such power. CCPA can also undertake surveys, projects and make recommendations to the legislations in case of any lacuna felt by it. Earlier, the only aggrieved party can initiate the issue of the misleading advertisement, whereas, now with the introduction of CCPA E-commerce, such misleading advertisements could be addressed at the initial stage only.
Although E-commerce disputes were also resolved under the previous 1986 Act, the 2019 Act provides rules and regulations regarding E-commerce disputes explicitly.
The procedures of E-filing, online submission of documents have been introduced. However, still, the procedure for online dispute resolution through video conferencing is nowhere mentioned in the Act.
The statutory provision of mediation has been added wherein a mediation cell will be attached in the district, state, and national commission. The parties will have to try mediation to resolve disputes if any settlement or part settlement could be reached then such settlement would be passed as order or attached with the order of the commission respectively.
4. Penal provisions
The concept of product liability is introduced and includes the manufacturer, service provider and seller. The term seller also includes e-commerce platforms. Therefore, now the e-commerce platforms cannot take the defence of merely acting as a medium for providing goods and services. Penalties for misleading advertisement have been introduced and also provides for liability of endorsers. The endorser May be ordered to prohibit from endorsing that product or service for a period of 1 year and for subsequent endorsements the period may extend upto 3 years. Through this Act, the endorsers are made liable and must check before endorsing any product.
The fine for misleading advertisement can be upto 10,00,000 and imprisonment upto 2 years can be sentenced. For a subsequent offence, the fine amount may extend to 50,00,000 and imprisonment upto 5 years.
5. Territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction
The complaints in a commission can be filed according to the claim amount which has been increased in the 2019 Act. Now the cases with claim amount up to 1 crore can be filed in the District Commission as against 20 lakhs in the 1986 Act; State Commission can now hear matters with a claim value of 1crore to 10crores and National Commission to try matters exceeding ten crores. The pecuniary jurisdiction is increased to put a lesser burden on the State and National Commission because the claim value is usually of large amounts. The territorial jurisdiction is also relaxed as the complainant is now allowed to initiate a suit in the consumer forum of his/her area of residence and thereby to make it immensely more accessible for the consumer to seek redressal.
The 2019 Act reflects that India strives to attain a balance so that nobody has a dominant position, and therefore, CCPA was made the guardian for consumer interests. The Indian judiciary is also leaning towards ADR techniques by providing for statutory provisions for mediation. The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, is a way towards protecting the interest of our consumers and protecting them from malicious practices of sellers and manufacturers.
Disclaimer: Kindly note that the views and opinions expressed are of the author, and not Law Colloquy.