The newly enacted Consumer Protection Act comes to force from Monday (July 20), replacing more than three decades old Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The bill, among other things, proposes setting up of a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect, and enforce the rights of consumers as a class. The CCPA would make interventions to prevent consumer detriment arising from unfair trade practices. The agency can also initiate class action, including enforcing recall, refund, and return of products.
The Bill also envisages a simplified dispute resolution process, has provision for Mediation and e-filing of cases. The Consumer will be able to file cases in the nearest commission under the jurisdiction of which he resides. Consumers can file complaints from anywhere and they do not need to hire a lawyer to represent their cases. For mediation, there will be a strict timeline fixed in the rules.
On misleading advertisements, there is provision for a jail term and fine for manufacturers. There is no provision for jail for celebrities but they could be banned for endorsing products if it is found to be misleading. For the first time, there will be an exclusive law dealing with Product Liability. A manufacturer or product service provider or product seller will now be responsible to compensate for injury or damage caused by defective products or deficiency in services.
There is also a provision for a class action lawsuit for ensuring that the rights of consumers are not infringed upon. The authority will have the power to impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to 10 lakh rupees and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.
Product liability provision to deter manufacturers and service providers from delivering defective products or deficient services. The Bill also enables regulations to be notified on E-commerce and direct selling with a focus on the protection of interest of consumers.