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Consumer Protection Act, 2019: A relief for the buyers

The objective of the article is to help understand the need and demand for a new Consumer Protection Act with added provisions to help effectively execute the laws. Furthermore, this law helps safeguard the position of the consumers and lays down how he can preserve his rights. This act has also helped provide for safe trade for the consumers protecting them from unfair contracts and deceiving advertisement.

The article seeks to help understand how the new Consumers' Protection Act of 2019 was a necessity. The article details out the provisions of the Act in order to understand the position of the consumer in today's digital era. Additionally, the concept of E-commerce has also been introduced to increase the ambit of the Act.

Introduction
Today's Digital Age has introduced another aspect of trade and computerized marking, just as another arrangement for consumers' satisfaction. Digitisation has given simple access, an enormous range of decision, helpful installment mechanisms, improved administrations and shopping according to accommodation. Remembering this and to address the new arrangement of difficulties beheld by customers in the computerized age, the Indian Parliament, on 6 August 2019, passed the milestone Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 which plans to give the ideal and successful organization and settlement of customer debates. The New Act will come into power on such date as the Central Government may so tell. The New Act looks to supplant the more than thirty years old Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (Act).

Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, the minister of consumer affairs, public distribution and food was the one who had proposed the consumer protection bill 2019. This bill was passed as an amendment to succeed the 1986 Consumer Protection Act. The objective behind the adoption of this act was to ensure effective and productive regulation and to help settle consumer conflicts in relevant matters. The role of the act can be understood by the preface if the act where it clearly speaks how the 2019 Amendment Act has defined the Consumer Protection Act as "an act to provide for the protection of the interests of consumers and for the said purpose, to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers' disputes and for matter connected therewith or incidental thereto"[1].

The reason why the government passed a new act instead of amending the old one was to help in offering better security in comparison to the previous approaches as in today's time the ECommerce sector is growing very rapidly and so different ways are emerging in matters related to the distribution of products and services as in teleshopping, multi-level marketing, online shopping and even direct selling.

Consumer Defined as per the New Act

The idea of 'purchaser' has been summed up to include people occupied with physical or online buys through electronic methods or teleshopping or direct deals or multi-level marketing. A customer is characterized as an individual who purchases any product or service as per his need or desire. It doesn't include any person who acquires a good for business purposes such as for resale of an item or service.

This incorporates purchaser's overall structures, including offline, and on the web, through electronic media, mail teleshopping, staggered showcasing, or direct deals. According to the demonstration; an individual is known as a buyer when he purchases the product or service for his own use and not to engage in any future commercial activity. It does exclude anybody getting the merchandise or benefiting from services without their consideration.

'Telecom has been added to the explanation of the term 'services' in order to bring the telecom service providers within the purview of the 2019 Act. But astonishingly, such addition has not been worded as 'telecommunication service' as defined under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, which then would have included internet, cellular, and data services as well.

Consumer Protection Act 2019 in a Glance

Where to previous act had no provision with regards to unfair contract the new act defines them and hence results in a significant change in the rights guaranteed of the consumers. The law talks about six contractual terms that may be regarded as unfair.[2] The provision for the Central Protection Councils (CPCs) as an advisory body in order to facilitate the protection of consumer rights and their promotion.

These Central Protection Councils (CPCs) are established on the district state and national levels. Where the 1986 act sought for no provision for E-Commerce but seeing today's time we cannot question the relevance and need for a provision.

The new act not only defines it but also prescribed guidelines to enable the central government to lay down rules in order to help prevent unfair trade practices in the dimension of direct selling and e-commerce. Another significant fact about this 2019 act is the incorporation of mediation cells that are attached to the commissions as a resource for those who wish to seek alternative dispute resolution as an option. Apart from this the act also mentions about product liability the claim can be made against the manufacturer seller or the service provider as the case seems demanding for compensation by proving any of the several conditions specified in the Act.

Apart from the previous provisions, the new act adds three new types of guidelines to increase the ambit of unfair trade practices the added provisions specifically talk about the failure to provide for a bill or receipt, the seller refusing to take back a good returned within a period of 1 month and disclosure of personal details of a consumer that was provided unless the details were shared in public interest or was required by law. These provisions have helped in increasing the ambit of the consumer protection act not to miss out the 2019 act has provided for a CCPA to be able to focus on the grievances of the consumer where the previous act had no such provisions. Below I have discussed the three important aspects of the new 2019 Act.

Rights of consumers

The act defines six rights of a consumer; these rights include the proper to:
  • be secured from the selling of life and property-threatening goods, products or services; To be notified, of nature, quantity, efficacy, consistency, value, and price of products, products or services, to guard the customer against unfair trading practices;
  • To be assured exposure to a spread of commodities, products or services at fair rates whenever possible;
  • To be recognized and to be assured that the concerns of consumers would be provided due consideration at sufficient forum;
  • And pursue relief from unfair commercial practices or unreasonable trading policies or the unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
  • To consumer awareness

Central Consumer Protection Authority

The duties of the central consumer protection authority includes:
  • investigating and tracking violations of consumer rights at the required forum;
  • allotting orders for recall or removal of dangerous products and ensure refund of the price charged and termination of dishonest trade practices as specified in the Bill;
  •  issuing supervision to the individual concerned;
  • the imposition of fines and penalties, and lastly
  • giving out of safety notices to consumers against hazardous goods and unsafe services.

Customer Disputes Redressal Commission (CDRCs)

The New Act engages the separate governments to set up a National a State and a District Commission for the Redressal of Consumer Disputes. The function of these commissions framed under the New Act is comparable to that of the commissions set up under the Old Act. They have the position to deal with worries from clients about specific items or administrations.

The New Act additionally allows the SCDRC (state level) and the NCDRC (national level), a position to think about complaints regarding unfair contracts.

A shopper can record an objection with CDRCs corresponding to:

  • unjust or prohibitive exchange rehearses;
  • faulty products or administrations;
  • overpriced product or tricky charging;
  • the contribution of products or administrations available to be purchased which might be unsafe to life and wellbeing.

  • In any case, the monetary position, for example, the money related estimation of the complaints which can be sought after has been impressively extended for every one of these commissions to limit the weight on the State and National Commissions by permitting clients to move towards the District Commission for complaints worth up to Rupees One Crore.

    Comparative Analysis of the 2019 and the 1986 Consumer Protection Act

    The 2019 Act specifically aims to protect consumers while purchasing products and services through a digital medium. Tt aims to bring online purchasing within the ambit of the consumer. Section 21(2) of the 2019 act makes it clear that even after receiving a notice from the consumer the commission may impose a fine of 55 lacs if there are endorsements of products with false information about the respective product[3].

    The act has made the endorsers liable for fraudulent activities as in putting out deceptive ads in order to help incorporate sales online. The New Act is very consumer-friendly in the form that it keeps in mind the privacy and safety of the consumers, as the act considers disclosure of personal information shared by the consumer during a transaction as an offence.

    The provision of product liability clarifies that from now the manufacturer will compensate not only for the damaged goods but also for any loss incurred by the consumer concerned due to the defective product. This Act also proposed the establishment of the Central Authority for Consumer Protection (CCPA), this body is to act as an independent regulator, they are not to resolve issues or respond to consumer grievances.

    The body is to take regulatory measures to help resolve or remove the practice of unfair trading going on. The 2019 Act gives the privilege of judicial review, which will require Consumer Commissions to rethink their choices, in this way diminishing the coerce forced by picked petitions to amend clear irregularities before the record. In sharp differentiation to the 1986 Act, it is presently essential to make advances from the State Commission to the National

    Commission regardless of whether they raise genuine legitimate issues. The National Commission's difficulties to the Supreme Court must be made against charges that emerge inside the National Commission. Likewise, to reinforce the trap on the early accommodation of offers, the time period for favoured requests has additionally now been provided firmer. Complaints against an unjustifiable agreement can be logged with just the State and National Appeals from a District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission will be heard by the State CDRC. Requests from the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission will be heard by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. The last allure will lie under the watchful eye of the Supreme Court.

    Conclusion
    Generally speaking, the new Act conceives the digitization period and has likewise fused arrangements to represent the corresponding. It will be intriguing to perceive how different arrangements develop. For instance, how all around arranged the discussions are with regards to implementing different buyer rights or making an exacting move against unreasonable exchange rehearses. The current pendency of cases at the State and National commission is now of concern. While upgrading of financial purview may assist with facilitating pressure on the National Forum, be that as it may, it may not be the finished answer.

    The legislature must make extra designation towards filling opening and improving the foundation and so forth for the successful execution of the different arrangements and rapid assistance or remedies to be provided in case of grievances. This is even more demands thinking about the extension of degree and ambit of the new Act. In order to revolutionize the law identifying with the consumers' protection and to extend the extent of the current law and make it more successful and deliberate, the Consumer Protection Act 2019 has superseded the old Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

    The coming up of the Act was truly necessary as the arrangements under the old Act, which is presently 33 years old, have gotten clearly outdated and needed additions and rectifications. The customers' inclination is currently more inclined towards purchasing items online achieving the extraordinary changes in the customary meaning of the market. With the appearance of E-trade, the customers and brand proprietors are attempting to defend their enthusiasm for this new world which is vulnerable to far and a wide dispersion of fake and encroaching items seeking shelter under the secrecy of online exchanges.

    End-Notes:
    1. http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2019/210422.pdf
    2. https://www.mondaq.com/india/dodd-frank-consumer-protection-act/838356/consumer-protection-bill-2019
    3. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/coronavirus/news/chew-on-this-trains-may-dump-thalis-frommenu/articleshow/77057557.cms

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