The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (the Act) received the President’s assent on 9 August 2019 which has replaced the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The Act aims at protecting and strengthening the rights of the consumers by establishing authorities, imposing strict liabilities and penalties on product manufacturers, electronic service providers, misleading advertisers, and by providing additional settlement of consumer disputes through mediation.
- Under the new Act, “consumer” is defined as a person who “buys any goods” and “hires or avails of any service” for consideration but does not include a person who obtains goods for resale or goods or service for any commercial purpose. The Act seeks to widen the scope of this definition. Thus, a consumer will now mean any person who “buys any goods” and “hires any services” which shall include both online and offline transactions through electronic means, teleshopping, direct selling or multi-level marketing.
- The concept of “product liability” has been newly introduced and 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.
- Rights of the consumer
- be protected against the marketing of goods, products or services which are hazardous to life and property;
- be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods, products or services;
- be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods, products or services at competitive prices;
- be heard and to be assured that consumers’ interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forum;
- (v) seek redressal against unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
- consumer awareness .
- Introduction of “e-commerce” and “electronic service provider”
The Act has inserted the definition of “e-commerce” which means buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over 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 protection of interest and rights of consumers.
Further, the Act has also introduced a vital concept of “electronic service provider” which 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.
Inclusion of the concepts relating to e-commerce along with the prescribed liabilities has broadened the scope of the Act. By including e-commerce within its purview, the Act seeks to protect the rights of the e-consumers and also enables them to proceed against the e-commerce websites in the event of any infringement or violation.
The Act has introduced a new chapter on mediation as an alternate dispute resolution mechanism, in order to resolve the consumer dispute faster without having to approach the Commissions. The dispute can be resolved either in whole or in parts.
Thus, in the event, the mediation is successful, the terms of such agreement shall be reduced into writing accordingly. Where the consumer dispute is settled only in part, the Commission, shall record the settlement of the issues which have been settled, and shall continue to hear the remaining issues involved in the dispute. In the event the mediation is not successful, the respective commission shall within seven days of the receipt of the settlement report, pass a suitable order and dispose the matter accordingly
The Act is a welcome change in favour of the consumers. It provides them with clearly defined rights and dispute resolution process which may enable them to resolve their grievances on a fast-track basis. Online marketplaces and online auction sites, which have all throughout been included under the purview of an “aggregator”, have also been included under the purview of this Act which will place more responsibility on them with respect to the goods and services being sold and provided by them. Apart from establishing authorities at district, state and national level for consumer disputes redressal, the Act also seeks to hold the product manufacturers liable along with the product service providers and product sellers where the rights of the consumer have been infringed due to defects or deficiency in the goods and services provided.
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.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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