Introduction – Consumer Protection Act
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution have issued a new notification in which the Consumer Protection Act 2019 shall come into force from 20th July 2020.
Who is Consumer according to the Consumer Protection Act, 2019?
According to the Act, a consumer is defined as a person who buys any goods or avails a service for a consideration. The Act doesn’t include a person who obtains a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purposes. Now the Act includes transactions through all modes including offline and online through electronic means, teleshopping, multi-level marketing, or direct selling.
Key Highlights of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019:
- The District forum is renamed as District Commission.
- The definition of “Complainant” shall extend to parents or legal guardians of a minor who is a consumer.
- Rights of the consumers are as follows:
- Protection against the marketing of goods, products, or services which are hazardous to life and property.
- Protection against unfair trade practices by being informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price of goods, products, or services.
- Access to a variety of goods, products, or services at competitive prices.
- Consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at the appropriate forum
- To seek redressal against unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.
- The limitation period for appeal filing before State Commission is extended from 30 days to 45 days while retaining the power to condone the delay.
- Earlier the ceiling was of a maximum of Rs. 25,000/-, which has been removed and now the Opposite Party needs to deposit 50% of the amount ordered by District Commission before filing appeal before State Commission,
- The original pecuniary jurisdiction of the District Commission shall be up to Rs. 1 Crore, for State Commission from 1 Cr – 10 Cr. And for NCDRC to be more than Rs. 10 crores.
- The complainant has the right to file the complaint within the territorial jurisdiction of the commission where he/she is residing or working for gain besides what was provided earlier.
- State Commission shall have a minimum of 1 President and 4 Members
- According to the new Act, Section 49(2) and 59(2) gives power to the State Commission and NCDRC respectively to declare any terms of a contract, which is unfair to any consumer, to be null and void.
- Under Section 40, 50, and 60 the Power of review has been conferred to District Commission, State Commission, and NCDRC respectively.
- As per the section 58 of the Act, NCDRC can hear appeals against the order of Central Authority.
- As stated in Section 69, the period of limitation in filing of complaint remains 2 years with a provision for condonation of delay power.
- A second appeal to NCDRC has been provided U/s 51(3) if there is a substantial question of law involved in the matter
- The power of revision can still be exercised by NCDRC U/s 58(1)(b) and by State commission under 47(1)(b) of the Act.
- Section 70 provides for administrative control of State Commission over the District Commission and that of NCDRC over State Commission. This section also provides for an investigation into any type of allegations against the President and members of a State Commission / District Commission and submitting inquiry report to the State Government along with copy endorsed to the Central Government for necessary action.
- Section 71 confers a power of execution as provided Under Order XXI, The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 with such limitation as provided in the section
- Mediation is given statutory status by way of introduction of Section 74 in the new Act
- A product liability action may be brought by a complainant against a product manufacturer or a product service provider or a product seller, as the case may be, for any harm caused to him on account of a defective product.
- According to the Chapter III of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 states for the creation of Central Authority to regulate matters relating to a 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.
- An Investigation Wing headed by a Director-General for the purpose of conducting inquiry or investigation under this Act as may be directed by the Central Authority.
- The Act of 2019 has come into effect on 9.8.19 and the old Act of 1986 stands repealed, subject to section 1(3) of the New Act.