The New Consumer Protection Act, 2019

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This post has been written by Mamta Kumari, a law student from Banasthali Vidpapith.

INTRODUCTION

The Consumer Protection Act,2019 replacing the old 1986 Act has been passed. It was first passed by the Lok Sabha on 30th July 2019 and by Rajya Sabha on 6th August 2019 which is later assented by the President of India on 9th August 2019. The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan had introduced the Consumer Protection Bill in the Parliament. The Act will come into effect from the date i.e. 20 July, 2020 as notified by the Central Government in the official Gazette.

AIM OF CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT,2019

The aim of the Consumer Protection Act,2019 is the protection of rights and interest of consumers which strengthen them by establishing the authorities so as to ensure timely and effective administration. It focuses on the speedy redressal of consumer grievances.

This Act also aims at imposing strict liabilities and also imposes penalties on the manufacturer of the product, provider of electronic service, advertisers who mislead the consumers by showing the false advertisement of their product. By introducing the mediation by the amendment, it has also provided the additional settlement mechanism for the dispute of consumers.

 IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019
 Summary of Consumer Protection Act 2019

  • Change in the Definition of “Consumer”

The new Consumer protection Act has changed even the definition of ‘consumer’ as it has widened the scope of it. Now it includes the provision relating to e-commerce by stating that– “buys any goods” and “hires or avails any services” includes offline or online transactions through electronic means or by teleshopping or direct selling or multi-level marketing [1]. The old 1986 Act do not include e-commerce in its definition and this point is so important to be included into the Act with the great emergence of technology in almost every sector.

  • Introduction of E-Commerce transaction

With the advancement of society and technological development this provision of e-commerce is highly needed. The earlier Act do not state anything about the e-commerce. The above point makes it clear the provision inserted regarding the introduction of e-commerce. This type of transaction is also protected under the section 94 which relates to the prevention of unfair trade practices. The new Act has also introduced the concept of electronic service provider.

  • E- Filing of Complaints

In the old Act it was specified that the consumer have to file complaint where the office of the seller or the defendant is located but the new Act provides that the consumer can file complain where the consumer resides or works.

The changes in the Act also specifies about filing of electronic complaints where the consumer can seek relief by e-filling of complaint. The consumer can be heard and the parties can be examined by the way of video conferencing which is introduced to prevent the procedural difficulty and to reduce the inconvenience.

  • Establishment of Central Consumer Protection Authority

 One of the regulatory Authority is also established under this 2019 Act i.e. Central       Consumer Protection Authority under Section 10 of Chapter III. The authority consists of Chief Commissioners and other number of commissioners who are authorized to exercise powers and functions prescribed under this Act. For the purpose of conducting inquiry an investigation wing which is headed by Director General is also included with the Act under section 15.

This authority is responsible to regulate the matter relating to-

  1. Inquiry into Violation of consumer rights
  2. Unfair trade practices
  3. Publication False or misleading advertisement
  4. Promote and protection of consumer rights
  5. Protection of consumer interest.
  6. Undertake and promote research in the field of consumer rights.
  7. Awareness on consumer rights
  8. Encouragement of NGO to co-operate with consumer protection.
  9. Advising Ministries and Departments of central and state Government relating to consumer welfare measures.
  • Insertion of Product liability

This is also the new concept inserted by the Consumer Protection Act,2019 i.e. of product liability in a separate Chapter. It includes that the compensation can be claimed from product manager, product seller, product service provider when it is found that the consumer has suffered from any harm in respect to the defect in product. But the liability cannot be claimed when the product has been altered, misused or modified.

  • Extension of Pecuniary Jurisdiction

The new Act has also witnessed extension in the pecuniary jurisdiction from that of older one. The new pecuniary Jurisdiction as under-

  1. District Commission– The jurisdiction to which the District Commission can entertain the complaints extends to Rupees 1 Crore.
  2. State Commission– The jurisdiction to which the State Commission entertain the complaints extends from Rupees 1 Crore To 10 Crore.
  3. National Commission– The jurisdiction to which National Commission entertain the complaint exceeds Rupees 10 Crore.
  • Introduction of Mediation

An Alternative dispute mechanism has been introduced in the form of mediation under section 74 which aimed at resolving the consumers dispute in a speedy manner without referring the dispute to the commission. Earlier there was no provision relating to mediation exist in the Act.

  • Penalties

Various penalties have also been raised with the introduction of new Act. The penalty for the false and misleading advertisement upon the manufacturer is up to Rs. 1,000,000 along with the two years fine. And if the offence is committed subsequently then it may also extend to Rs. 5,000,000.

  • Exclusion of definition of “Healthcare”

The definition of healthcare is also deleted from the list of definition under the new Consumer Protection Act.

  • Period of limitation

The period of limitation remains same as section 69 of the Act states that the commissions shall not admit the complaint if it is filed after the period of two years from the date on which the cause of action has been started.The limitation period for filing appeal is extended from 30 days to 45 days

COMPARATIVE STUDY OF 1986 ACT AND 2019 ACT

The older Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was in use for so many years with a small amendment and the replacement of this Act by the new 2019 Act was highly needed so as to walk along with the changes and progress witnessed by the country. There are so many provisions which have been amended in 2019 amendment and the contains a long list of it.

The comparative analysis of 1986 Act and Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is as follows-

PROVISIONS CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT,1986 CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019
Regulator There was no Central Regulator. Establishment of Central Consumer Protection Authority.
Filing of Complaints Filing of complaint before the consumer court where the office of seller or defendant is located. Filing of complaint before the consumer court where the complainant either reside or work.
Product Liability There was no specific provision related to product liability. Consumer can seek for compensation regarding any harm caused to him by any product or service.
Pecuniary Jurisdiction Jurisdiction of-

·       District- up to Rs. 20 lakhs

·       State- between Rs. 20 lakhs to Rs. 1 cr.

·       National- above 1 cr.

Extension of Jurisdiction to-

·       District- up to Rs.1 cr.

·       State- Rs. 1 cr. To Rs. 10 cr.

·       National- above Rs. 10 cr.

E- Commerce Earlier there was no provision. All rule relating to direct selling also extends to e-commerce
Mediation Earlier there was no provision. Introduction of Alternative dispute resolution mechanism i.e. court can refer the settlement through mediation.
Video Conferencing No provision Hearing of complaint or examining parties through video conferencing is introduced

CONCLUSION

The new Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is proved to be consumer favourable and significant then that of old one as it makes an attempt to ease and fasten the process of solving consumer dispute. This Act has introduced a large number of changes relating to the pecuniary jurisdiction, introduction of alternative dispute resolution, e-commerce, insertion of product liability etc. The Act also lays more responsibility upon seller and manufacturer and the consumers right to claim his right.

REFERENCES

Consumer Protection Act,2019

[1] Section (2)(7) Explanation (b) of Consumer Protection Act, 2019

https://www.mondaq.com/india/dodd-frank-consumer-protection-act/876600/the-consumer-protection-act-2019-an-overview

https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/most-provisions-of-consumer-protection-act-to-come-into-force-160003

 

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