The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 (ACT) was the first to include mediation as a redress option for consumer complaints. Parties in consumer court now have the option of choosing mediation as a conflict resolution process at any moment after the complaint has been admitted. The State government has been given authority under Section 74 of the Act to create a consumer mediation cell to be connected to each district and state commission in that state. According to Section 37 (2) of the Act, if the parties agree to settle by mediation and give their approval in writing, the District Commission will submit the issue to mediation within five days of obtaining consent, and the provisions of Chapter V, which deal with mediation, shall apply.

Consumer Protection Act, Section 79, 2019. It has been stated that mediation will take place in the consumer mediation cell of the District Commission, State Commission, or National Commission, as applicable. The mediator is also required to consider the parties’ rights and responsibilities, trade customs, if any, the circumstances that led to the consumer dispute, and any other relevant elements that he deems essential, and to be guided by natural justice principles when conducting mediation.

The mediator is also duty-bound to complete the proceedings within the prescribed time limit of three months by the Consumer Protection (Mediation) Rules, 2020. In case a party does not participate in the proceedings of mediation, then, the Consumer Commission may ask that party to participate in such proceedings.

Natural justice and fair play principles will govern the mediator, but he or she will not be bound by the requirements of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872) or the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. (5 of 1908). On each day, the mediator will prepare a record of the proceedings, which will be signed by the parties involved or their selected lawyers, attorneys, or authorised representatives. The mediator will send the agreement signed by the parties to the Consumer Commission in a sealed envelope with a forwarding note to the Consumer Commission.

In case no agreement is executed between the concerned parties, within the prescribed time limit, then, the mediator will intimate the same to the Consumer Commission. However, this will be done, without, in any manner revealing as to what ensued during the proceedings of mediation, what was the stand taken by the concerned parties or why the agreement was not reached.

If the parties to the consumer dispute reach an agreement during mediation, the terms of the agreement shall be reduced to writing and signed by the parties to the dispute or their authorised representatives, whether the agreement covers all of the issues in the consumer dispute or only a few of them. The mediator will prepare a settlement report regarding the settlement and transmit it to the relevant Commission together with the agreement (signed).

In a scenario where an agreement is not reached between the parties within the specified period, or the mediator believes that a settlement is impossible, then, he/she will make his/her report accordingly and submit that to the relevant Commission.

The new legislation repeals the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, which established national consumer dispute resolution courts and commissions. Consumers had to contact such platforms previously, but there were no clear regulations on product recalls, a legal definition of product responsibility, which puts post-purchase duties on a product manufacturer, or guidelines for bulk recalls. Furthermore, the lack of any opportunity for mediation meant that long-drawn-out court fights were the sole option for resolving disputes.

It may be argued that the inclusion of mediation as a method of resolving consumer disputes would undoubtedly result in significant changes in the consumer dispute adjudication process. The number of complaints pending before the country’s numerous consumer commissions is expected to plummet. It is a well-thought-out action by the Indian government, which has been greeted with open arms by the legal community as well as the general public.




Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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