Food, clothing and shelter are fundamental to one’s life but apart from these
requirements we use many things in our daily life such as household goods,
vehicles, cameras, furniture, cosmetics, etc. and thus we are consumers to these
products. It is our right and duty of the seller to get things from the market
at a reasonable price, quality, quantity, etc.
Rights and duties are interrelated like two sides of a coin but without any
control and supervision these rights and duties are not possible which leads to
the formulation of acts, statutes and laws. India's economic and business sector
has grown with the changing times. India has now become a partner of global
trade with the world in past years. But this success has also made customers
aware of new problems.
This article aims to provide the key highlights of the consumer protection act
Who is Consumer
Mahatama Gandhi once said that:
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on
us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the
purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are
not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an
opportunity to do so.
Consumer as per Consumer protection act 2019, means any person who:
Buys any goods and hires or avails of any service for a consideration which has
been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of
deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who
buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly
promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such use is made with
the approval of such person, but does not include a person who obtains such
goods for resale or for any commercial purpose.
The consumer protection act 1986 did not specifically include e-commerce
transactions, and this lacuna has been addressed by the New Act.
Consumer Protection Act 2019
The Consumer Protection Act 2019 is enacted to provide redressal to consumer
grievances. The Act seeks to promote and protect the interest of consumers
against deficiencies, unfair trade practices and defects in goods or services.
This Act came into force from 20th July 2020 and this act will empower consumers
and help them in protecting their rights through its various updated provisions
A new provision to safeguard the rights of consumer against unfair contracts by
declaring them to be illegal is added in this amendment. In general, an unfair
contract means a contract between manufacturer or trader and a consumer that
causes disadvantages to the rights of the consumer such as - imposing
unreasonable condition on the consumer, reserving right to unilateral
termination of agreements without reasonable cause or assignment of condition
without consent which is to the detriment of the consumer in the contract, etc.
this act imposes the fines and penalties for such violations.
A product liability action may be brought by a consumer against a product
manufacturer or a product service provider or a product seller, for any harm
caused to him on account of a defective product. But the product liability
action cannot be brought against the product seller if, at the time of harm, the
product was misused, altered, or modified.
Section 2(35) of CPA 2019 allows a person to make a claim of product liability
against such manufacturer, seller or service provider for such defective
products. Product liability means the responsibility of a product manufacturer
or product seller, of any product or service, related to the product to
compensate for any harm caused to a consumer by such defective product
manufactured or sold or by deficiency in services relating to the product.
The consumer protection act 2019 provides the e-filing facility to decrease the
customer pressure and to file complaints online without personal appearance.
This act also provides for hearing and examining parties through
video-conferencing and make the dispute redressal more flexible to the
consumer. This act also provides for the filing of complaints in the
jurisdiction of residence or work of complainant, whereas the previous act was
limited to the jurisdiction of place of work or business of the opposite party.
Dispute Redressal Mechanism
There should be establishment of a regulatory authority known as the Central
Consumer Protection Authority with wide powers, headed by a Director-General,
for the conduct of inquiry or investigation of consumer law violations and to
regulate unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements and to
promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class. The authority
has powers to take suo-moto actions, recall products, search and seizure of
productes, order reimbursement of goods/services, cancel licenses and file class
action suits, in case of consumer complaint.
There should be establishment of State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
consist of President and not less than such number of members as may be
prescribed by the Central Government. The appellate jurisdiction of district
commission lies with the state commission and it may call for the records and
pass appropriate orders in any consumer dispute which is pending before or has
been decided by any District Commission within the State, where it appears to
the State Commission that such District Commission has exercised its illegal and
materially irregular jurisdiction.
There should be establishment of District Consumer Disputes Redressal
Commission, in each district which consists of President and such number of
members as may be prescribed by Central Government. Every proceeding before the
District Commission shall be conducted by the President with at least one member
thereof, sitting together: The District Commission shall have the power to
review any of the order passed by it if there is an error apparent on the face
of the record, either of its own motion or on an application made by any of the
parties within thirty days of such order.
The consumer protection act 2019 shall also provide the provisions for the
establishment of mediation cells as per the aegis of the consumer commissions
for mutual settlement of disputes outside the court for which there will be no
appeal against such settlement.
Provision for Alternate Dispute Resolution:
There is an addition of provision of mediation or alternate dispute resolution
in the Consumer protection act 2019 which makes the process of dispute
adjudication simpler and quicker. This is the way to easy and speedy disposal of
cases and grievances outside the courtroom without burdening on the court, which
already has numerous cases pending before them.
The pecuniary limit for the different commissions is as follows
- District Commission - up to Rs.1 Crore
- State Commission - up to Rs.10 Crores
- National Commission - to over and above Rs.10 Crores
There have been several cases in recent times where customers have fallen prey
to unfair trade practices under the influence of advertisements made by
celebrities as brand ambassadors of that particular product. In such cases,
there was no provision for action against advertisements made by celebrities
earlier, but now after the enactment of this act the liability is fixed on
celebrities and the celebrity takes diligence to verify the veracity of the
claims made in the advertisement to refute liability claims.
If a misleading advertisement is found to be prejudicial to the interest of
consumers, then the Central Authority may impose a penalty of up to 10 lakhs on
the endorser or celebrity as well. The Central Authority can also prohibit the
endorser of a misleading advertisement from endorsing that particular product or
service for a period of up to 1 year which may extend up to 3 years for every
Offences and penalties under Consumer Protection Act 2019
Any manufacturer of a product or any service provider who causes a false or
misleading advertisement, which is prejudicial to the interest of consumers
shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and
with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees; and for every subsequent offence,
be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and with
fine which may extend to fifty lakh rupees.
Penalty for noncompliance of direction of Central Authority is imprisonment for
a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to twenty
lakh rupees, or with both. The rest of the punishments and penalties for the
violation is mentioned under chapter VIII of the Consumer Protection Act 2019.
Other rules and regulations
As per the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Rules, there will be no fee
for filing cases up to Rs. 5 lakh. The State Commissions will provide reports of
vacancies, disposal, the pendency of cases and other matters to the Central
Government on a quarterly basis. Apart from these general rules, there are
Central Consumer Protection Council Rules, provided for the constitution of the
Central Consumer Protection Council.
The new consumer protection act is indeed a boon for the consumers. Now no
manufacturer or vendor will trick the consumer. There are penal provisions
against the vendors and manufacturers or service providers in case of
violations. It’s time to change the maxim caveat emptor with caveat venditor,
because if the manufacturers or service provider tries to cheat with the
consumer he will definitely behind the bars.
- Werner Hüttenrauch, “A customer is the most important visitor on our
premises…” Published on July 28, 2017,
- Section 2(7) of Consumer Protection Act 2019- https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/12808/1/the_consumer_protection_act%2c_2019_no._35_of_2019_date_09.08.2019.pdf
- Section 83 of Consumer Protection Act 2019- https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/12808/1/the_consumer_protection_act%2c_2019_no._35_of_2019_date_09.08.2019.pdf
- Section 87(1) of Consumer Protection Act 2019- https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/12808/1/the_consumer_protection_act%2c_2019_no._35_of_2019_date_09.08.2019.pdf
- Consumer protection act 2019
- Arogya Legal, Highlights - Consumer Protection Act, 2019, August 28
- Section 89 of consumer protection act 2019- https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/12808/1/the_consumer_protection_act%2c_2019_no._35_of_2019_date_09.08.2019.pdf
- Section 88 of consumer protection act 2019.