New Consumer Protection Act
The new Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which replaces the earlier law on the subject, has come into force from July 20, 2020.
Among other things, the new Act seeks to protect the rights of consumers through its various rules and provisions relating to Consumer Protection Councils, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions, mediation, product liability and punishment for manufacture or sale of products containing adulterant/ spurious goods.
The Act provides for the establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.
The CCPA, according to an official press release, will be empowered to conduct investigations into violations of consumer rights and institute complaints/prosecution, order recall of unsafe goods and services, order discontinuance of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements, impose penalties on manufacturers / endorsers / publishers of misleading advertisements.
E-commerce and country of origin
The rules also seek to prevent the use of unfair trade practices by e-commerce platforms. Under the Act, every e-commerce entity will be required to provide information relating to return, warranty, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, the security of payment methods and the country of origin of the goods to enable consumers to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage on its platform.
The e-commerce platforms will be required to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within forty-eight hours and redress it within one month from the date of the receipt.
Besides other measures, the new Act introduces the concept of product liability and brings within its scope the product manufacturer, product service provider and product seller, for any compensation claim.
The Act provides for punishment by a competent court for 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.
The provisions of the updated law on consumer protection will help in expeditiously resolving various issues being faced by the consumers. Hopefully, the industry will also take note of the provisions of the new Act and avoid indulging in practices detrimental to the interest of consumers.