JUNE -20 PUBLIC INTEREST
- Posted by CERC India
- Posted in June
Highlights of the Consumer Protection Act 2019
Provision: [Sec 34(1) and 47(1)] District Commission shall have powers to entertain complaints where value of goods or service is not more than Rs. 1 crore. Similarly, the monetary cap for the State Commission has been revised from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 10 crores.
Impact: Increasing the monetary jurisdiction of the District and State Commissions means that more consumers would now be able to pursue remedies easily. This will help consumers save time and resources as they canÂ Â Â Â file cases at commissions closer to them.
Â 2. What to do if you donâ€™t get a bill?
Provision:Â [Sec 2 (47) (vii)] The Scope of Unfair Trade Practices has been expanded to include practices of a seller not issuing a bill. In such cases, a consumer can now file a case against the seller.
Impact:Â Many consumers could not assert their rights because they did not have proof of purchase (bills/receipts). With this amendment, the seller will be compelled to issue proper bills and also take responsibility for the goods sold.
3. What about Unfair Terms of Contract?
Provision:Â [Sec 2 (46)] A contract may not be unfair entirely, but if it has terms that cause significant change in the rights of a consumer it would now be recognised as Unfair Contracts. The last clause of the definition of unfair contract includes â€œany unreasonable, charge, obligation or condition which puts the consumer in a disadvantaged position.â€
Impact:Â For instance, in the real estate sector, till now, contracts between a consumer and a builder shielded the builder in case he wanted to back out. But consumers had to pay penalty if they wanted to cancel a booking. This one-sided term would now come under Unfair Contracts.
4.Â Where can a case be filed?
Provision:Â [Sec 34 (2)(d) and Sec 35(1)] A consumer can now file a case at the Forum where he/she resides or works instead of going to the Forum where the opposite party has an office. Consumers will get facility to file their complaint online including online payment of fees.
Impact:Â If a consumer lives in Ahmedabad but has purchased a defective gadget in Mumbai, he/she can now file a case in an Ahmedabad District Commission instead of having to go to Mumbai where the cause of action arose.
5.Â How is compliance with an order enforced?
Provision:Â [Sec 72 (1)] Any person who does not comply with the order of the commission shall be penalised with imprisonment, which may be up to 3 years or shall have to pay fine up to Rs. 1 lakh. This will be in addition to the payment of the actual amount awarded.
Impact:Â With a penalty now being imposed, execution of the order is likely to be strictly adhered to.
6. Does the Act cover the rights of E-commerce consumer?
Provision:Â [Sec 2(16)] E-commerce has been defined as buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over digital or electronic network. While the definition of consumer includes any person who buys goods or avails any services through offline or online transactions.
Impact:Â The changing trends of shopping and consumer behaviour has been considered in the new Act. A consumer dispute arising in the online purchases can also be brought to consumer commissions.
Â 7.Â Can a consumer claim damages for any harm caused by defective goods or a product related deficient services?
Provision:Â [Chapter 6] With the introduction of a new chapter on â€˜Product Liabilityâ€™, you can claim for damages from the manufacturer if a product has caused personal injury, death or property damage.Â You can also claim damages if the product is dangerous or defective in design.
Impact:Â This provision makes the manufacturer or vendor of goods responsible for his products and also provides for compensation for injury caused by defective goods.
8. What is the role of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) introduced in the new Act?
Provision:Â [Chapter 3] A Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) would be set up under the new Act which will have powers to initiate class action, including enforcing recall, refund and return of products.
Impact:Â The objective of this authority is to prevent exploitation of consumers and violation of their rights.
9. Can a consumer lodge a complaint against a misleading advertisement?
Provision:Â [Sec 2 (47)] Any false or misleading representation about a good/service will be considered unfair trade practice.
Impact:Â You can now file a complaint against any manufacturer or service provider for a misleading advt.
10. Are there any new dispute resolution methods?
Provision:Â [Chapter 5 Sec 74] Mediation is being proposed as an alternate dispute redressal mechanism. Consumer mediation cells attached to District, State and National commission are required to be set up.
Impact:Â The provision on Mediation provides for an establishment of consumer mediation cells attached to each commission. The commissions may refer complaints to these cells and supervise mediation by a panel selected by them where no lawyer will be allowed to represent the parties. The settlement reached through mediation will be endorsed by the respective commission. This will reduce the number of cases pending in the commissions.