The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, came into force on Monday with the government notifying rules for its implementation. The government has notified rules for establishing Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), Central Consumer Protection Council, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, mediation, product liability, and misleading advertisements, among others, under the Act.
The parliament approved 'The Consumer Protection Bill 2019' last year, replacing the 1986 Act. The law seeks to revamp the process of administration and settlement of consumer disputes, with strict penalties, including jail term for adulteration and misleading ads by firms.
Here are the key features of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019:
File a complaint from anywhere
The new law enables consumers to file complaints electronically and file complaints in consumer commissions that have jurisdiction over the place of his residence instead of the earlier practice of filing case at the place of purchase or where the seller has its registered office.
No fee for filing cases up to Rs 5 lakh:
As per the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Rules, there will be no fee for filing cases up to Rs 5 lakh.
Appear for the hearing via video conferencing:Plantiffs can attend the hearing of the case through video conferencing, according to the new law
Seek compensation under product liability:
This new law includes the product manufacturer, product service provider and product seller, for any claim for compensation.
Punishment for sale of spurious goods:
The new law provides for punishment by a competent court for the manufacture or sale of adulterant/spurious goods. The court may, in case of the 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, he said.
Law empowers State and District Commissions to review orders:
As per the new law, State and District Commissions can review orders passed by the consumer commissions.
Mediation under Consumer Commissions:
A complaint will be referred by a Consumer Commission for mediation, wherever scope for early settlement exists and parties agree for it. This mediation will be held in the Mediation Cells, which is to be established under the aegis of the Consumer Commissions.
Government to set up 35-member Central Consumer Protection Council:
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, provides for the setting up of the Central Consumer Protection Council as an advisory body on consumer issues. It will be headed by the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs 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 North East.
Mandatory for e-tailers to display refund, exchange, warranty details:
Under the e-commerce rules, it has been made mandatory for e-commerce platforms to display details about price, expiry date, return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, the security of payment methods, charge-back options, etc. Additionally, sellers must also display 'country of origin' which will enable the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage.
E-retailers must specify background about sellers:
E-retailers must prominently display details about the 'sellers' offering goods and services, including the name of their business, whether registered or not, their geographic address, customer care number, any rating or other aggregated feedback about such seller.
Also read: Consumer Protection Act notified today, here's what you need to know