A legal instrument frequently utilised in western consumer markets such as the United States, class-action cases allow one individual complaint of a faulty product or service to be considered as an “interest group” of other persons in similar situations. Based on a single complaint, this sort of class action can be used to recall an entire batch of defective items. A single complaint might prompt a recall if one lot of a consumer item, such as cell phones or automobiles, has a common fault.
The Union consumer affairs ministry, led by Ram Vilas Paswan, is in the process of establishing an apex investigative authority under the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CPPA), which would only handle class action lawsuits.
In the past, mass product recalls of faulty products happened in the Indian market, but they were voluntary rather than mandated by consumer protection laws. In April 2017, Toyota Kirloskar Motor announced a recall of 23,157 Corolla Altis sedans in India, as part of a global recall of 2.9 million cars owing to defective air bags.
A faulty medicine that harms a huge number of people is a better example of how class action may be used. This is an excellent candidate for a class-action lawsuit. Rather than several claims coming to court, a single lawsuit might be a more expedient way of dealing with the problem. Before enforcing product recalls, refunds, or returns, the consumer protection agency can launch a class action lawsuit, according to the new law. If mass flaws are proven, the new regulation establishes the manufacturer’s accountability and onus of product recall – in which the maker replaces or fixes the defect. The advent of class action lawsuits has simplified the recall procedure by combining all claims into a single claim. District collectors have been given the authority to investigate complaints that impact the interests of consumers as a group at the state level.
Section 35(1)(c) of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 expressly permits class actions (CPA). A lawsuit may be filed under the CPA by one or more consumers, voluntary consumer groups, the federal or state government, legal heirs, guardians, or legal representatives of the consumer. A client is defined as an entity, a business, a Hindu undivided family, a cooperative society, a collection of individuals, an organisation, a company, or any other artificial juridical personality under the CPA.
Class actions must be brought in the appropriate court with the required territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction. Manufacturers, service providers, retailers, and e-commerce firms, for example, maybe the targets of class actions. The CPA, therefore, establishes a consistent procedure structure. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission previously indicated that it would not accept class actions that did not have a sufficient proportion of the class involved in the suit. Furthermore, the CPA provides for the establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to investigate certain class action cases for violations of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, or deceptive or misleading advertisements before they are addressed by the consumer forum. This differs from the former process, in which consumers could unite together and file their complaints with the consumer court.
Section 39 of the CPA specifies various forms of relief, including repairing or replacing the product, refunding the customer for damaged products and services, withdrawing dangerous goods, compensating the consumer for damage or damage caused by neglect, and covering the costs of prosecuting and pursuing the suit. Furthermore, the CPA allows for punitive damages and, in some cases, incarceration.
The CPA sets a two-year deadline for bringing a class action lawsuit. It’s also worth mentioning that Indian courts have the ability to grant extensions of time, and in some circumstances, a class action can be heard after the statute of limitations has passed if sufficient grounds are shown. Litigation in India may be time-consuming and exhausting, with several appeals spanning multiple levels and all the way to the Supreme Court. From the moment a class action is filed to the time it is settled, it generally takes four to seven years.
Therefore, class action suits emerged as a way to overcome the impracticalities imposed on a huge number of plaintiffs/petitioners in a court and to limit trial multiplicity and therefore ensure better judgements being passed in cases related to consumer problems
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