The Parliament passed the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 in the year 2019 and it come into force on 20th July, 2020. The Act of 2019 repealed and replaced the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 was passed to address the new problems faced by consumers in the digital age and to broaden the ambit of consumer rights by covering the field of e-commerce, direct selling, tele-shopping and other multi levels of marketing.
CENTRAL CONSUMER PROTECTION AUTHORITY
For the purpose of protecting the rights of the consumer the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) was established under section 10(1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
Section 10(1) of the Act states that the Consumer Protection Authority has the power of regulating the cases relating to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices and false and misleading advertisements that are detrimental to the interests of the consumers. The Central Consumer Protection Authority has the power to inquire or investigate into these cases by taking suo motu actions , or on a complaint received, or on a direction from the central government.
According to section 10(2), Central Consumer Protection Authority will consist of a Chief Commissioner and such number of other Commissioners as may be prescribed, to be appointed by the Central Government to exercise the powers and discharge the functions under this Act.
According to section 10(3), the headquarters of Central Consumer Protection Authority will be in the National Capital Region of Delhi. However, the central government has the power to set up its regional and other offices in other parts of the country.
Central Consumer Protection Authority also has an Investigation Wing for the purpose of conducting inquiry or investigation under this Act.
POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF CENTRAL CONSUMER PROTECTION AUTHORITY
The Central Authority enjoys wide powers under the Act and can discharge regulatory, investigative or adjudicatory functions.
Under section 18(1) the Central Authority has the power to:
- Protect, promote and enforce the rights of consumers as a class, and prevent violation of consumers rights under this Act.
- Prevent unfair trade practices and ensure that no person engages himself in unfair trade practices.
- Ensure that no false or misleading advertisement is made of any goods or services which contravenes the provisions of this Act or the rules or regulations made under this Act.
- Ensure that no person takes part in the publication of any advertisement which is false or misleading.
For the above-mentioned purposes, the Central Authority under section 18(2) has the power to:
- Inquire or cause an inquiry or investigation to be made into violations of consumer rights or unfair trade practices, either suo motu or on a complaint received or on the directions from the Central Government.
- File complaints before the District Commission, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, under this Act.
- Intervene in any proceedings before the District Commission or the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, in respect of any allegation of violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practices.
- Review the matters relating to, and the factors inhibiting enjoyment of, consumer rights, including safeguards provided for the protection of consumers under any other law for the time being in force and recommend appropriate remedial measures for their effective implementation.
- Recommend adoption of international covenants and best international practices on consumer rights to ensure effective enforcement of consumer rights.
- Undertake and promote research in the field of consumer rights.
- Spread and promote awareness on consumer rights.
- Encourage non-Governmental organisations and other institutions working in the field of consumer rights to co-operate and work with consumer protection agencies.
- Mandate the use of unique and universal goods identifiers in such goods, as may be necessary, to prevent unfair trade practices and to protect consumers’ interest.
- issue safety notices to alert consumers against dangerous or hazardous or unsafe goods or services.
- advise the Ministries and Departments of the Central and State Governments on consumer welfare measures.
- issue necessary guidelines to prevent unfair trade practices and protect consumers’ interest.
POWER OF CENTRAL AUTHORITY TO REFER MATTER FOR INVESTIGATION OR TO OTHER REGULATOR.
Under section 19(1) the Central Authority has a power to conduct conduct or cause to be conduct a preliminary inquiry after receiving any information or complaint or directions from the Central Government or of its own motion and if after the inquiry it is satisfied that there exists a prima facie case of violation of consumer rights or any unfair trade practice or any false or misleading advertisement, by any person, which is prejudicial to the public interest or to the interests of consumers, it can cause investigation to be made by the Director- General or by the District Collector.
Under section 19(2) the Central Authority has power to refer the matter to the concerned Regulator along with its report.
Under section 19(3) the Central Authority empowered to call upon a person referred to in sub-section (1) and also direct him to produce any document or record in his possession.
POWER OF CENTRAL AUTHORITY TO RECALL GOODS, ETC.
Under section 20 the Central Authority is empowered to pass the following orders:
- Recalling of goods or withdrawal of services which are dangerous, hazardous or unsafe;
- Reimbursement of the prices of goods or services so recalled to purchasers of such goods or services; and
- Discontinuation of practices which are unfair and prejudicial to consumers’ interest.
However, the Central Authority shall give the person an opportunity of being heard before passing an order under this section.
POWER OF CENTRAL AUTHORITY TO ISSUE DIRECTIONS AND PENALTIES AGAINST FALSE OR MISLEADING ADVERTISEMENTS.
Under section 21(2) the Central Authority has the power to impose a penalty which may extend to ten lakh rupees on manufacturer or endorser a penalty in respect of false or misleading advertisement by such manufacturer or an endorser. Proviso to this section provides that the Central Authority has the power to impose a penalty which may extend to fifty lakh rupees for every subsequent contravention by a manufacturer or endorser.
Under section 21(3) the Central Authority has the power to prohibit the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement from making endorsement of any product or service for a period which may extend to one year. Proviso to this section provides that the prohibition may extend to three years for every subsequent contravention.
Under section 21(4) the Central Authority has the power to impose a penalty which may extend to ten lakh rupees on such person who is found to publish, or is a party to the publication of, a misleading advertisement.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 created the way for the proper enforcement of consumer rights by creating the Central Consumer Protection Authority. The Central Protection Act of 2019 gives the Central Consumer Protection Authority power of investigation and inquiry which enhances the ambit of consumer rights.
- Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
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