Introduction to Consumer Protection Act, 2019
The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 has been passed by the Lok Sabha in July 2019, and Rajya Sabha passed it on Aug 06, 2019. This bill was introduced in the parliament by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan. It was passed by Parliament in 2019 and came into force on 20th July 2020. It replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Need of the Act
The Digital Age has ushered in a new era of commerce and digital branding, as well as a new set of customer expectations. Digitization has provided easy access, a large variety of choices, convenient payment mechanisms, improved services, and shopping as per convenience. However, there are also associated challenges related to consumer protection.
To help address the new set of challenges faced by consumers in the digital age, the Indian Parliament passed the landmark Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 which aims to provide timely and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes.
The basic aim of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is to save the rights of the consumers by establishing authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes, with strict penalties, including jail term for adulteration and misleading ads by firms.
Some important definitions
A consumer is defined as a person who buys any goods or avails any service for a consideration (paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised) either for his personal use or to earn his livelihood by means of self-employment. It does not include a person who obtains a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purposes. It covers all transactions through all modes including offline, and online through electronic means, teleshopping, direct selling, or multi-level marketing.
Product liability is defined as the responsibility of a product manufacturer or product seller of any product or service to compensate for any harm caused to a consumer due to defective product manufactured, sold, or deficiency in services relating thereto.
E-Commerce refers to the buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over a digital or electronic network. Section 94 of the Act refers to the prevention of unfair trade practices in e-commerce and direct selling and also deals with the protection of interest and rights of consumers.
Electronic Service Provider
"Electronic Service Provider" is defined as a person who provides technologies or processes to enable a product seller to engage in advertising or selling goods or services to a consumer and includes any online marketplace or online auction sites. Further, an electronic service provider is now included under the definition of a product seller. These online marketplaces and auction sites can now be held in product liability action under the circumstances as stated in Section 86 of the Act.
Goods mean every kind of movable property and include food as defined under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
Unfair Trade Practices
Unfair Trade Practices means a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting a sale, use or supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or unfair or deceptive practice which includes sharing of personal information given by the consumer in confidence, unless such disclosure is made in accordance with the provisions of any other law.
Rights of Consumers under the Act
The Act provides six rights to the Consumers:
The right to be informed about various aspects of goods and services. The information could be about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price of goods, products, or services, as the case may be, to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices.
The right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products, or services which are hazardous to life and property.
The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods, products, or services at competitive prices.
The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate for a.
The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.
The right to consumer awareness.
The author is a fifth-year student pursuing B.A. LL.B from Central University of Kashmir.