Consumer means a person or a group of persons who intends to order, order or uses purchased goods, products, or services. In short consumer is a being who consumes the goods, products, or services may be for his/her personal needs family, social, or household needs not related directly to entrepreneurial or business activities. We all are consumers by one means or another.
All basic motive of business is profit. So there is a chance to restrict and deny all the rights of consumers as a person. It shows the necessity of Consumer Protection Laws.
There are various consumer protection laws worldwide. In India, we have Consumer Protection Act 1986. This Act was passed by the Indian Parliament in October 1986 and comes into force on 5th December 1986.
Consumer Protection Act 1986
The main objective of the Consumer Protection Act 1986 was to protect consumers from unfair trade practices and protect their interests. The Rights of Consumers is stated under section 6 of the Consumer Protection Act 1986. They are:
- Right to Safety.
- Right to information.
- Right to choose.
- Right to hearing.
- Right to seek redressal.
- Right to consumer education.
The definition for the consumer is stated under section 2(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The definition of goods is stated under section 2(7) and that of services under section 2(1). The definition of unfair trade practices and restrictive trade practices were stated under sections 2(1)(r) and 2(1)(nn). There are District Consumer Redressal Forum, State Consumer Redressal Commission, and National Consumer Redressal Commission. In the District Consumer Redressal Forum dispute for goods and services, up to 20 lakhs can be filed. In the State Consumer Redressal Commission, consumer disputes for goods and services up to 1 crore from 20 lakh can be filed and in the National Commission, consumers can file disputes from 1 crore to above.
Unfair trade practices are which the trader is cheating the consumer in different ways like charging higher prices, not giving the warranty and guarantee of the goods, do not give proper services after taking the money, false representation, misleading and other deeds which may hurt the intention of the consumer. There are a lot of other examples of unfair trade practices. Giving a condition for selling a good is also restricted by Consumer Protection Act 1986.
Why there is an amendment for Consumer Protection ACT 1986
The world is constantly changing, and so our India. As world-changing, the method of business is changing, and so are our consumers. Since consumers and their consuming methods are changing, they need new methods for redressal for their disputes. So that the Act undergoes constant amendments in a different years. The first amendment was in 1991 followed in 1993 and that was also overhauled in 2002. Even after all these the Act is completely changed and made Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (COPRA 2019).
Consumer Protection Act 1986 has jurisdiction all over India except Jammu and Kashmir. It did not include e-purchase in its definitions and nowadays online purchasing is increasing tremendously. To filing a complaint we have to go to the court at the seller’s place even if it is so far from the consumers’ residence or working place. That was very difficult for the consumers. And also there is no platform for any mediation and all. The pecuniary jurisdiction of consumer redressal forum is very less at the district level and state level so the consumers have to reach a national forum for filing their disputes. It was very less convenient for the consumers.
Consumer Protection Act 2019
Consumer Protection Act 2019 can be enforced in any part of India including Jammu and Kashmir ( Consumer Protection Act 1986 has no jurisdiction in Jammu Kashmir). The main attraction of the Consumer Protection Act 2019 is that it includes E- filing and covers E-commerce transactions and teleshopping which were rising tremendously in this online world. The definition of consumers is elaborated and it includes online shopping. Consumers can E- file their complaints and hearing of cases can also be done through online mode via video conference. Consumer Protection Act 2019 is even more favorable for the consumers because the consumer can file their complaint at a place where the complainant resides or works, earlier they have to go to the seller’s place now they don’t have to.
The pecuniary jurisdiction of the consumer redressal forum has been increased by the Act. Now The District Consumer Redressal Forum has jurisdiction up to 1 crore, The State Commission has jurisdiction from 1 core to 10 crores and The National Commission has jurisdiction from 10 crores to above. According to Consumer Protection Act 1986 The State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has a constitution of a president and 2 other members, it changes to President and 4 other members by Consumer Protection Act 2019. The Act also establishes the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) under section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act 2019. It is an advisory body in 3 levels:
- The Central Consumer Protection Council.
- The State Consumer Protection Council.
- The District Consumer Protection Council.
It can investigate the matters, recall the product or withdrawal services, and file cases at different forums. The act also established mediation centers. The Court can refer to settlement through mediations also which is stated under section 80 of the Consumer Protection Act 2019.
Earlier in Consumer Protection Act of 1986 MRP was a criterion for the pecuniary jurisdiction but later in 2019 Consumer Protection Act 2019 has the actual price or discounted price as criteria. If we have an appeal for the judgment by The District Forum one can go to appeal within 45 days according to Consumer Protection Act 2019 under section 41 (Consumer Protection Act 1986 states that we have to go to appeal within 30 days against the judgment of the district forum).
Section 49(2) and 59(2) of the new act gives power to the State Commission and NCDRC respectively to declare any terms of the contract, which is unfair to any consumers, to be null and void.
Comparing to the consumer protection act 1986 the new Consumer Protection Act 2019 enables more safety to the consumers and is more favorable to them. Through the elaboration of definitions, and by including E-filing, mediations it is very useful to the consumers and serves the purpose of protecting the Consumers’ Rights very well. Earlier they need to go to the seller’s place for filing a dispute but now that is not necessarily needed. They can file disputes at their residing place or workplace and also through E filing.
We can say this innovative method is very useful for the consumers to get justice even they didn’t have the resource for travelling and all and also in this modern online world the E filing is giving a chance to change the judicial system too.
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