Central Consumer Protection Authority
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 has the provision for the Establishment of ‘Central Consumer Protection Authority (“CCPA” or “Central Authority”) which will protect, promote and enforce the rights of consumers. The CCPA will regulate matters related to unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements, and violation of consumer rights.
Section 10(1), in Chapter III of the Act, provides for the establishment of a Central Consumer Protection Authority to regulate matters relating to violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of the public and consumers and to promote and enforce the rights of consumers as a class. Section 10(2) provides that the Central Authority would consist of a Chief Commissioner and the such number of other Commissioners as may be prescribed, to be appointed by the Central Government.
On 23 July 2020, the Central Government notified in the Official Gazette that Chapter III of the Act would come into force on 24 July 2020. Simultaneously, in the exercise of powers conferred by Section 10 of the Act, the Central Government notified the establishment of a CCPA as a body corporate having perpetual succession and a common seal with effect from the same day, i.e. 24 July 2020.
The CCPA has an investigation wing, headed by a Director-General, which may conduct inquiry or investigation into such violations. The Act provides that the headquarters of the CCPA shall be at such place in the National Capital Region of Delhi.
Functions of CCPA
The Central Authority enjoys sweeping and wide-ranging powers under the Act and can discharge functions that are regulatory, investigative or adjudicatory in nature. These include the power to:
Inquire or cause an inquiry into violations of consumer rights or unfair trade practices, either suo moto or on a complaint or on directions from the Central Government [Section 18(2)].
Cause investigation to be made by the Director-General or by the District Collector if it is satisfied, after a preliminary inquiry, that there exists a prima facie case of violation of consumer rights or any unfair trade practise or any false or misleading advertisement prejudicial to the public interest or to the interests of the consumers [Section 19(1)].
Call upon a person found prima facie to be involved in violation of consumer rights or any unfair trade practice or any false or misleading advertisement as described above and also to direct him to produce any document or record in his possession. Additionally, the Director-General or the District Collector would have powers of search and seizure under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and also the power to direct production of any document or record [Section 22].
Recall goods or withdraw services that are dangerous, hazardous or unsafe, or direct reimbursement of the prices of goods or services so recalled or discontinuation of unfair practices after giving the target person an opportunity of being heard [Section 20].
Engage in and promote consumer advocacy including by filing complaints before the District Commission, the State Commission or the National Commission constituted under the Act, intervening in any proceedings before these fora, recommending remedial measures, undertaking research, spreading awareness and issuing safety alerts to consumers [Section 18].
Issue directions, after investigation, to a trader or manufacturer or endorser or advertiser or publisher to discontinue false or misleading advertisements prejudicial to consumers, and to impose monetary penalties up to Rupees ten lakhs [Section 21].
Restrain the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement from making an endorsement of any product or service for a period up to one year, or in case of subsequent contravention up to three years [Section 21(3)].
The author is a fifth-year student pursuing B.A. LL.B from the Central University of Kashmir.