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Analysis Of Consumer Protection Act, 2019

The process of defending consumers against unethical business activities is known as consumer protection. It describes the actions taken to safeguard customers from dishonest and unethical business activities by sellers, manufacturers, service providers, etc., and to offer remedies in the event that their legal rights as consumers have been infringed.

The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 in India is responsible for managing consumer rights protection. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was repealed by the Consumer Protection Act of 2019. Numerous features in the revised Act take into account the difficulties confronted by contemporary, technologically dependent customers. The Act also includes a number of clauses that aim to preserve and advance consumer rights.

The Indian government passed the Consumer Protection Act, of 2019 to address issues connected to consumer rights violations, unfair business practices deceptive advertising, and other situations that are detrimental to consumers' rights.

Because of the advancement of technology and the dramatic rise in the purchase and sale of products and services online over the past several years, the Parliament intended the Act to contain protections for e-consumers.

List Of Consumer Rights Under Consumer Protection Act, 2019

The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 grants consumers six rights.

Consumer rights are outlined in Section 2(9) of the Act and include the following:

  1. The right of a customer to be shielded from being marketed dangerous products and services that endanger life and property.
  2. The right of a customer to be shielded from unfair business practices by being informed of the standard, price, quality, quantity, potency, purity, and other features of commodities, products, or services.
  3. The right of a customer to choose from a wide range of items and services at reasonable rates.
  4. The right to file a complaint at the appropriate venues over unfair and limiting business practices.
  5. The right to fair recompense or consideration from the appropriate consumer forums if the merchant has harmed them.
  6. The right to receive consumer education.

Objectives Of Consumer Protection Act, 2019

The Act's principal goals are to safeguard consumer interests and create a solid and reliable process for resolving consumer complaints.

The Act seeks to:
  1. Prevent the marketing of goods that endanger life and property.
  2. To protect customers from unfair business practices, educate them about the product's quality, potency, amount, standard, purity, and price.
  3. Create consumer protection councils to safeguard the interests and rights of consumers.
  4. Whenever feasible, ensure that customers may access a trusted source of goods at reasonable costs.
  5. Seek remedy for deceptive business practices or consumer abuse.
  6. Defend the interests of consumers by designating authorities for the prompt and adequate handling and resolution of consumer issues.
  7. Establish the punishments for violations of the Act.
  8. Listen to complaints and disputes, and make sure that consumer welfare is given proper attention in suitable forums.
  9. Educate customers about their rights by offering them consumer education.
  10. Offer quick and efficient handling of customer concerns through alternative dispute resolution processes.

Changes Incorporated In Consumer Protection Act, 2019

With the passage of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019, the following modifications came into effect:
  1. Where the value of the commodities, services, or products paid as consideration to the seller is less than 50 lakh rupees, the District Commissions shall have the authority to hear complaints.
  2. State Commissions shall have the authority to hear complaints where the value of the commodities, services, or products paid as consideration to the seller exceeds 50 lakh rupees but does not exceed two crore rupees.
  3. Where the value of the commodities, services, or products paid as consideration to the seller exceeds two crore rupees, the National Commission will have the authority to hear complaints.
  4. The Act further specifies that every consumer dispute complaint must be resolved as quickly as practicable. If the complaint does not need analysis or testing of the products and services, it must be resolved within three months of the day the opposing party receives the notice. If such analysis or testing is necessary, the complaint must be resolved within five months.
  5. The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 also enables online complaint submission by customers. In order for customers to access the appropriate consumer forums in the event of a disagreement, the Central Government established the E-Daakhil Portal, which offers them a simple, quick, and affordable service.
  6. The Act specifies the parameters for direct selling and e-commerce.
  7. The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 includes provisions for mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution to allow the parties to comfortably resolve their issue without the hassle of court proceedings.
  8. The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 includes three new unfair business practices along with provisions for product liability and unfair contracts. The previous Act, in comparison, only listed six categories of unfair commercial practices.
  9. The Act of 2019 serves as a consultative body for the promotion and protection of consumer rights.
  10. Selection committees are not allowed under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 since the Central Government is given the authority to designate the members.
The Indian Parliament therefore passed and put into effect the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 to include regulations for e-commerce because the digital era has made it possible for simple payment methods, a wide range of options, enhanced services, etc. to be made available.

Regulatory Authority

The Central Government shall establish a Central Consumer Protection Authority, known as the Central Authority under [1]Section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, to promote, protect, and enforce consumer rights as well as to regulate matters relating to consumer rights violations, unfair trade practices, and false or misleading advertisements that are harmful to the interests of the public and consumers. As required by the Act, the Central Government will appoint the Chief Commissioner and the other Commissioners of the Central Authority.

According to [2]Section 15 of the Act, the Central Authority must establish an "Investigative Wing" in order to carry out an inquiry or investigation. The Director-General and the necessary number of Additional Director-Generals, Directors, Joint Directors, and Deputy Directors must make up the investigative wing.

Functions and duties of the Central Authority
In accordance with [3]Section 18 of the Act, the Central Authority's duties and responsibilities are as follows:
  1. To safeguard and promote the rights of all consumers and to prevent the infringement of such rights
  2. to prohibit unfair business practices
  3. to ensure that no products or services are promoted in false or misleading marketing
  4. to ensure that no one participates in false or misleading advertisements,
  5. Inquire about or look into instances of consumer rights violations or unfair trade practices.
  6. File grievances with the National, State, or District Commission, as appropriate.
  7. To examine issues pertaining to the barriers to the exercise of consumer rights.
  8. To urge adherence to international agreements and the very best international standards for consumer rights
  9. Encourage investigation into and knowledge of consumer rights
  10.  Establish the required rules to stop unfair business practices and safeguard consumer interests.

Furthermore, the Central Authority has the authority to conduct an investigation after receiving a complaint or instruction from the Central Government or on its own initiative in situations where consumer rights are violated or unfair trade practices are practiced. If the Central Authority believes that there has been a breach of consumer rights or unfair trade practices, it may:
  1. Recall products or services that are dangerous and damaging to consumers,
  2. Reimburse consumer prices for goods and services, and
  3. Discontinue actions that are prejudiced and harmful to consumers.

[4]Section 21 of the Act empowers the Central Authority to make instructions regarding false and misleading advertisements up to ten lakh rupees. The Central Authority must consider variables such as the population impacted by the offence, the frequency of the offence, and gross income from the sale of such goods when deciding the punishment for the offence. The Central Authority may also command searches and seizures for the purposes of this Act, in which case the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973 shall apply.

Historical Background Of Consumer Protection Act

In India, the idea of consumer contemplation and protection is not new. Due consideration has been given to this issue since the beginning of time, even as far back as ancient India. It is one of the significant socioeconomic issues India has inherited.

Consumer consideration has a long history, going back to the Vedic era (5000BC-2500BC). India's Vedic Period was a great era of cultural development. The Vedas go into great detail with topics like criminal offenses and civil rights. In-depth discussions of four general sorts of offenses are found in the Vedas.

There were four major categories of offenses that were prevalent in antiquity:
  1. Adulteration of foodstuff.
  2. Charging of excess prices
  3. Fabrication of weight and measures
  4. Sale of forbidden articles

Leading texts of the era occasionally proposed statutory measures and penalties for all these offenses.

Some of the well-known texts of the era were:
  • Manusmriti (800 BC-600BC)
  • Kautilya's arthashastra (400BC-300BC)
  • Yajnavalikasmriti (300AD-100BC)
  • Naradasmriti (100AD-200AD)
  • Brihaspatismriti (200AD-400AD)
  • Katyayanasmriti (300AD-600AD)

Why There Was A Need For A New Consumer Protection Act?

  1. The objective of the Parliament in creating the Act was to include protections for e-consumers since, as technology has advanced, the buying and selling of goods and services online has expanded significantly in recent years.
  2. There was also a need for regulatory authority, therefore the Central Consumer Protection Authority was formed.
  3. There was also the need to provide the District Commission Forum the power of hearing cases of value up to one crore to decrease the caseload on the national consumer Disputes redressal commission (NCDRC)
  4. There were no provisions for unfair terms and conditions. That is why under section [5]49(2) and [6]59(2) of the new act the power was given to the state commission and NCDRC to declare any terms of the contract, which is unfair to any consumer, to be null and void
  5. There was a need for a provision related to mediation under the consumer protection act that is why under section [7]80 a provision was made that court can refer for settlement through mediation.

The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 is a modified piece of law that provides customers with a wide range of advantages and rights to protect them against unfair commercial practises, false or misleading ads, and other forms of deception. The Act allows customers to seek alternative dispute resolution processes including mediation, allowing the parties to select for a quick and effective resolution of consumer problems.

The Act's provision for e-filing of complaints and e-consumers demonstrates forward-thinking on the part of the legislature. Furthermore, the Act established new terminology such as product responsibility, unfair contracts, and so on, broadening the scope of consumer rights protection and allowing consumers to submit complaints when their rights are violated under the Act.

Thus, the adoption of these rules solves gaps in the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. The Act's passage was critical, as it expanded the scope of the country's consumer protection laws.

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