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Consumer Protection Bill, 2019
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Consumer Protection Bill, 2019

On 30th July 2019, LokSabha passed the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019, which wholly replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The bill was introduced by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in LokSabha to enact a new law for strengthening consumer rights in the modern market.  It proposes to set up a Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and forums at District, State and National level for the speedy redressal of the Consumer Complaints.

Key provisions of Bill:

  1. The Consumer Protection Bill is enacted to protect the interest of consumers with the means of redressal mechanism that would lead to the effective and speedy settlement of disputes.
  2. It seeks to enlarge the scope of existing law to be more effective.
  3. It empowers the Central Consumer Protection Authority to protect the rights of the consumer and to solve issues related to misleading and false acts. 
  4. It has the provision of an alternative dispute resolution mechanism in the form of mediation.

The objective of the Consumer Protection Bill:
The main aim of the bill is to ease the process of addressing the grievances to the Consumer Forums and to protect and enhance consumer rights.

Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) and its powers:
It is the National level regulator dealing the matters related to the violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices and misleading advertisement that are prejudicial to the consumer’s interest.  It is an investigation wing with the power of search and seizure the consumer-related matters under the head of Director-General. The District Collector is empowered to report the Central Consumer Protection Authority if they receive the massive consumer complaints in the particular jurisdiction. CCPA has the power to file a complaint before the relevant Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum. It also has the power to recall the goods that are deemed to be hazardous or dangerous to the consumers and practising unfair trade practices. It can impose penalties on manufacturers and endorses for misleading advertisement.

Penalties
The CCPA has the power to impose a penalty up to Rs. 10 Lakh and imprisonment up to 2 years for the false and misleading advertisement. Whereas, in case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs.50 lakh and imprisonment for five years.

CCPA has the power to prohibit the endorser for endorsing the misleading advertisement on particular product and services for one year. Further for a subsequent offence, the period of prohibition may extend to three years.

Pecuniary jurisdiction:
The Bill has enhanced the pecuniary jurisdiction as follows:
  1. The District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission will entertain the complaints where the value of goods and services exceeds up to Rs. One Crore.
  2. The State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has the power to entertain the complaints where the value of goods and service are more than Rs. One crore but less than Rs. 10 Crore.
  3. The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission will entertain the complaints with the value of goods and services over Rs. 10 Crore.

E-Commerce: 
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 refers to e-commerce as trading by using electronic technology, majorly internet services. As per the new Consumer Protection Act 2019, now all the rules applicable for direct selling will be extended to E-commerce. It will be liable to ensure that no counterfeits products are sold on the website.

Product Liability: 
The term product liability came into picture through the new Consumer Protection Act, 2019, as there was no specific statute dealing with the claims of product liability. Product liability is the liability of a service provider, the product manufacturer or seller who needs to compensate the consumer for any harm or injury caused by the defective product or services. The consumer has to prove any of the defect or deficiency in product to claim compensation.

  1. Product liability action for the manufacturer: The product should not contain the defect in its manufacturing, design, or there should not be any deviation from specifications in manufacturing the product. Also, the product should contain adequate instructions of usage to prevent any harm to the consumer. It should contain warnings regarding the improper usage of the product. Also, the warranty should be as per the standard rules and laws. 
  2. Product Liability for Service Provider: The liability for the service provider is that he should adequately monitor the quality or manner of performance as mandated under the law. Proper instructions and warnings must be issued by the service provider to prevent any harm.
  3. Product Liability for the seller: The product seller can alter or modify the product only to the extent until it is not harmful to the consumer. The seller of the product should ensure that the product or service is inspected properly before selling. He should provide adequate information to the consumers as described by the manufacturer.

Exceptions to product liability
The product manufacturer shall not be liable; 
  1. If he fails to instruct the consumer about the danger of a product which is expected to be commonly known to the user of the product. 
  2. If the consumer, while using the product, was under the influence of alcohol or any drug not prescribed by the medical practitioners, then the manufacturer is not liable for such product liability.
  3. For any harm, if the product is misused or altered.

Note: For earlier blog go on this link https://legatoapp.com/blog-in-detail.php?bp_id=65

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