What is Consumer Protection Bill 2018
The Consumer Protection Bill 2018, which if passed through the Lok Sabha in the next session, will not only replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 but will also expand the ambit of consumer protection itself by explicitly including the transactions under telecommunication, online and teleshopping transactions, housing constructions, etc. The Bill focuses on enforcing consumer rights along with timely and effective administration of consumer disputes. The inclusion of certain new definitions such as 'e-commerce will broaden the scope of the Act to include the e-commerce sector, which the existing Act does not cover. The Bill will govern the consumers of e-commerce platforms along with the traditional consumer who buys or avails goods and services from brick and mortar stores.
On December 20, 2018, the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 with significant amendments was passed in the Lok Sabha, what seems to be the first step towards addressing disputes faced by Indian consumers. However, the Bill lapsed in the Rajya Sabha awaiting passage when the Parliament was adjourned sine die on Wednesday, 13th February, 2019. Since this Bill had been introduced in Lok Sabha, which had completed its term, the Bill in Rajya Sabha lapsed upon dissolution of Lok Sabha as per parliamentary procedure.
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Why Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 is important
If the bill is passed, consumer laws in India will change drastically and it will offer more power to customers and even land a company in trouble over fake advertisements.
- The Bill seeks to set up a central consumer protection authority (CCPA) to "promote, protect and enforce the rights of the consumers." The CCPA can act on complaints of unfair trade practices, issue safety guidelines, order product recall or discontinuation of services, refer complaints to other regulators, and has punitive powers such as imposing penalties.''
- The Bill also seeks to provide Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions at national, State and district-levels to look into consumer complaints. Consumer Protection Councils will also be set up at the district, State, and national level, as advisory bodies. Consumer mediation cells will be set-up on the same lines.
Few Important features of the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 that makes it superior over Consumer Protection Act, 1986
- Ambit of law- All goods and services, including telecom and housing construction, and all modes of transactions (online, teleshopping, etc.) for consideration. Free and personal services are excluded.
- Unfair trade practices (Defined as deceptive practices to promote the sale, use or supply of a good or service.)- The new Bill adds three types of practices to the list, namely: (i) failure to issue a bill or receipt; (ii) refusal to accept a good returned within 30 days; and (iii) disclosure of personal information given in confidence, unless required by law or in public interest. Contests/ lotteries may be notified as not falling under the ambit of unfair trade practices.
- Product liability- Claim for product liability can be made against manufacturer, service provider, and seller. Compensation can be obtained by proving one of the several specified conditions in the Bill.
- Unfair contracts- Defined as contracts that cause significant change in consumer rights. Lists six contract terms which may be held as unfair.
- Central Protection Councils (CPCs)- The new Bill makes CPCs advisory bodies for promotion and protection of consumer rights. Establishes CPCs at the district, State and national level.
- Regulator- Establishes the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect, and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.
- Pecuniary jurisdiction of Commissions- District: Up to Rs one crore; State: Between Rs one crore and up to Rs 10 crore; National: above Rs 10 crore.
- Penalties- If a person does not comply with orders of the Commissions, he may face imprisonment up to three years, or a fine not less than Rs 25,000 extendable to Rs one lakh, or both.
We request each and every citizen to move forward and raise their voice for their right. It’s the time to come together and sign this petition for the passage of Consumer Protection Bill 2018.