THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019


A consumer is a person who avails services and purchases goods for their own use and not for reselling those goods. Consumer Protection is the act of safeguarding the rights of the buyers/consumers of those goods and services. It provides protection to the consumers from frauds and damaged goods. It also helps the consumers to file complaints and make the process of the trail fast.

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For safeguarding the rights of the consumer, the Consumer Protection Act 1986 was introduced. The act aims to provide easy and fast compensation to consumer grievances. This act also encourages the consumers to stand up and fearlessly speak up against the damaged goods and flawed services. This act deals with all the goods and services of public, private, or cooperative sectors, except those which are exempted by the central government.

The act provides certain rights and responsibilities of the consumers. The Rights of the Consumers are – Right to Safety, Right to Choose, Right to be Informed, Right to Consumer Education, Right to be Heard, Right to Seek Compensation. The Responsibilities of the Consumer are – Responsibility to be Aware, Responsibility to Think Independently, Responsibility to Speak Out, Responsibility to Complain, Responsibility to be an Ethical Consumer.

Under this act, every district has at least a consumer court or a consumer redressal forum. Above the district forums, there are state commissions. At the topmost level is the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in New Delhi. These consumer courts are given a wide range of powers to enforce their orders. The courts have the power to decide the matter in the absence of the defaulter. These forums can issue warrants and use the police to produce the defaulter and to impose its decision. The defaulter can be sentenced to a maximum of 3 years of imprisonment and fined for the amount of Rs 10,000.

CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT 2019

The Consumer Protection Act 2019 is a replacement for the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The Consumer Protection Bill 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 8 July 2019 by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on 30 July 2019 and was later passed in Rajya Sabha on 6 August 2019.

The aim of the act is to ensure that the rights of the consumers are secured by the establishment of the authorities for effective and speedy settlement of the consumer’s disputes. It provides strict penalties, including jail term for adulteration and misleading advertisements by firms.

KEY PROVISIONS OF THE ACT

1. This act proposes the establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority. This authority will have the power to regulate cases related to unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements, and violation of consumer rights. They also have the power to penalise the violators, order them to refund for the damage, or to withdraw their services.
2. It has established a simpler way for dispute resolution, has provisions for mediation and e-filing of cases. It also allows the consumer to file their complaints in the nearest commission from their residence. There also no need to hire lawyers to represent the cases of the consumers.
3. In case of misleading advertisements, there is a provision for jail term and fine for manufacturers. The celebrities, who are found to endorse the brands that provide misleading advertisements, will be banned from products endorsements.
4. It is for the first time that a law dealing with Product Liability. The manufacturer or the product service provider or the product seller shall now be held responsible to compensate for the injury or damage caused by the damaged goods and flawed services.
5. The act also deals with businesses that are owned by the public and private sectors. It also deals with businesses that provide services and goods either offline or online.

PENALTIES UNDER THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019

For the offence committed for the first time, the defaulter is penalised with an imprisonment of 6 months or fine upto Rs 1 lakh, in case the consumer does not suffer any injury. In case the consumer is injured, the term for the imprisonment is upto 7 years and the fine is upto Rs 5 lakh. In case of the death of the consumer, the defaulter has to pay a minimum of Rs 10 lakh as a fine and has to face imprisonment for 7 years which can be extended to life imprisonment.

In case of misleading advertisements, the manufacturer or the endorser of the brand is penalised for the fine of upto Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for upto 2 years.

In case of repeated offence, the defaulter may be fined for the amount of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of upto 5 years. 


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