The safeguarding of consumers' financial security and safety is what is meant by consumer protection. This goal can be accomplished in several ways, such as government regulation, industry self-regulation, and consumer education. The Consumer Protection Act is a crucial law that defends consumers from unethical, deceitful, or fraudulent business practices. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 is a significant milestone in the realm of consumer protection that sets up the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC), appoints a Central Consumer Protection Authority, and establishes the National Commission for Women.
Need for Consumer Protection Act,2019
In recent years, the Indian consumer market has undergone significant changes due to the emergence of digital technology and the rise of e-commerce. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986, which was the first legislative effort to protect the rights of consumers, has become obsolete due to technological advancements in the market, especially with the advent of online shopping and teleshopping. This has resulted in ineffective provisions to deal with issues such as brand recalls, risky contracts, and misleading advertisements. Therefore, a new legislation was needed to address these issues and protect the rights of consumers.
The new Consumer Protection Act of 2019 was passed to keep up with the advances in the digital world and to ensure that consumers are protected against misleading advertising and other risks associated with online shopping. The act not only puts the onus on manufacturers and retailers but also on advertisers to safeguard consumers against fraudulent practices. The act also aims to reduce the number of pending lawsuits in consumer courts and provide prompt service to consumers.
The new act provides for the establishment of a Consumer Information Centre, Class action lawsuits, Security Authority, and other innovative processes to ensure that consumers are well-informed and their rights are protected. This act has been well-received by the public as it addresses many of the concerns raised by consumers in the past and offers them greater protection in the digital age. It has become a much-needed tool to ensure that consumers can make purchases without fear of fraudulent practices and that their grievances can be addressed in a timely manner.
Overview of the Consumer Protection Act
The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 had some drawbacks that hindered the proper implementation of consumer rights. These drawbacks included:
- The prescribed timeline for case disposal under Section 13(3A) of the Act was not observed due to a backlog of cases and frequent adjournments, making the process lengthy and expensive for affected consumers.
- Vacancies in various consumer forums, including members and presidents, caused delays in case resolution, with over 400 such posts remaining unfilled.
- Members of the consumer forums were often appointed without necessary qualifications and training, leading to an unprofessional and informal setup and procedural delays.
- The president lacked the power to take suo-moto cognizance of cases with the potential to affect a large population, such as misleading advertisements or online frauds.
To address these drawbacks, the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 was introduced, which aimed to reform the laws and better protect consumer rights, including the right to safety, choice, education, information, hearing, and redressal. The amended act also extended the definition of a consumer to include those who purchase goods directly through online platforms. These changes were necessary, especially since nearly 70% of the population with internet access reportedly shops online. The effective implementation of the act is crucial for consumers to enjoy their basic rights and ensure adequate redressal in case of any violations.
Benefits to Consumers
The Consumer Protection Act offers several advantages to consumers, including protection from dangerous goods and services that could endanger their safety or property.
Additionally, the act ensures that consumers receive prompt, simple, and inexpensive relief when necessary. It guarantees consumer sovereignty in the selection of goods, and it establishes a redressal mechanism for consumers.
The authorities tasked with enforcing the act are responsible for safeguarding various consumer rights, including the right to safety, the right to choose, the right to be heard, and the right to consumer education.
The penalties prescribed by the act are useful in curbing arbitrary business practices in India, promoting mutual trust among consumers, and enhancing the consumption of goods and services.
The act also includes provisions for product liability, which means that if a product is defective, the service provider must compensate the consumer. Similarly, if a consumer suffers harm or damage due to faulty goods or services, the manufacturer or service provider is required to provide compensation.
The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 is the result of a drafting process that began in 2010 and represents a significant step by the Indian government to protect consumer rights and provide speedy justice to those who have been wronged. The enactment of this law demonstrates that the government is taking consumer complaints seriously. By imposing new regulations, manufacturers, sellers, and service providers will be more mindful of the protocols they must adhere to, thereby enhancing the protection of consumer rights. The scope of online transactions has also been expanded, which has many advantages for the Indian commerce market. While online transactions may not be completely safe, the benefits of this expansion cannot be ignored. The key challenge after the enactment of this law will be its proper implementation, as this will ultimately determine its effectiveness in protecting consumers.
The fight to protect consumer rights is an ongoing process. It is critical to understand the purpose of the Consumer Protection Act and how it can benefit you. The act has its pros and cons, but it primarily shields consumers from the unfair tactics used by businesses when selling their products or services. If a company violates the law, customers can lodge a complaint with the relevant authorities and, if they are unable to afford it, seek legal assistance. As a result, it is essential for companies to adhere to the provisions of the act, as non-compliance can result in significant legal and financial penalties.