Consumer Protection Amendment Bill likely in this Parl session

NEW DELHI, Mar 16:  Planning for sweeping changes in consumer protection laws, the government will introduce a bill in Parliament in the second half of the Budget Session to amend the Consumer Protection Act.
The new law, that seeks to create a Consumer Protection Authority to fast-track grievance redressal of consumers on the lines of US and European countries, is likely to get the nod of Union Cabinet this month.
Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that the bill provides for punishment up to life imprisonment in certain cases of food poisoning and also has a provision for product liability.
“We are soon going to seek Cabinet nod for amending the existing Consumer Protection Act, 1986. We plan to pass the bill in Budget Session itself.
“Since the first half of the session ends this week, the bill will come to Parliament when the Houses reconvene after the recess,” Paswan told PTI.
Noting that the government is seriously planning to make consumer protection rules in India at par with international standards, he said many changes have been made in current law to protect consumer rights and simplify the judicial process to ensure speedy and inexpensive justice.
Paswan said if any consumer complaint affects more than one individual, that issue will go to the Authority, which will have the power to recall the product and cancel the licenses.
He further said that the provision will be applicable to a cross section of products ranging from cars to flats.
Besides giving back the invested money of consumers, the service providers will also have to take in account the inconvenience faced by passengers (air travellers) and the resultant losses, he added.
The purpose of creating a Consumer Protection Authority is to protect consumers from unfair trade practices and ensure faster resolution of their grievances.
Stating that such forums will be set up at all levels, Paswan said: “Right now, we have consumer courts at district level. There is also consumer disputes redressal commission.
“We will now have forums at all levels. We are also trying to simplify procedures under which lawyers will not be required for making claims up to two lakh rupees.”
Highlighting key amendments proposed for speedy justice, Paswan said, “Now only one appeal can be made against a decision of the lower court in favour of the consumer.”
“If the state level authority gives the same order as was given by the district court in favour of the consumer, there cannot be any appeal against it in the national forum unless there is a divergence in orders given by the district and the state forums,” he added.
Paswan said the judgement will have to be given within 30 days of the appeal and the complaint will be deemed to be accepted suo motu, if 15 days are passed after making the complaint.
The Minister also said that the new law will prescribe action for builders who delay the hand-over of flats, by-passing the time-frame for completion of projects.
The Amendment also has a separate provision to deal with misleading advertisements.
Meanwhile, apart from gold, hall-marking will also be made essential for silver jewellery.
Stating that the new law lays a great emphasis on increasing awareness among consumers, Paswan said his message to consumers is that they should be aware of their rights as much as possible and purchase goods only after being convinced that those are quality products.
“They must exercise their rights and seek redressal of grievances, if any. It is their right,” Paswan said, adding that his Ministry is scheduled to hold a seminar for consumer awareness here on March 18. (PTI)

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