Those deceiving consumers in J&K will face tough action under Central Law

Appeals to be heard in National Commission not HC
Stringent provisions to ensure compensation, check misleading advts

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Sept 25: Those who are deceiving the consumers by indulging in unfair trade practices are all set to face tough action as the Central Law, which will be applicable to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh from November 1, 2019 onwards, has several stringent provisions to protect the rights of the consumers.
As per the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir State Reorganization Act, 2019, which was passed by the Parliament early last month, the Jammu and Kashmir Consumer Protection Act, 1987 will be replaced by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 passed by the Parliament last month.
Under the J&K Consumer Protection Act, the complainant means a consumer or any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 2956 or the Government who makes a complaint. But under the Central Act, the definition of complainant is vast. Moreover, as per the provisions of the Central Law, in case of death of a consumer, his or her legal heir or legal representative or in case of a consumer being minor, his or her parents or legal guardian can be the complainant.
Unlike State Act, even the definition of misleading advertisement under the Central Law is vast and it means an advertisement which falsely describes such product or service or gives a false guarantee to or is likely to mislead the consumers as to nature, substance, quantity or quality of such product or service or conveys an express or implied representation, which if made by the manufacturer or seller or service provider, would constitute an unfair trade practice.
Though State Act is not elaborative about product liability and action yet the Central Law states that product manufacturer or product seller is liable to compensate for any harm caused to a consumer by defective product and a complaint can be filed by a person before the District Commission or State Commission or National Commission for claiming compensation for the harm caused by product manufacturer.
“A product manufacturer shall be liable for product liability action even if he proves that he was not negligent or fraudulent in making the express warrant of a product”, read the Central Law.
In the State Act, there is no provision of mediation but the Central Act makes it mandatory for establishment of Consumer Mediation Cell in each District Commission and the State Commission. Moreover, each Consumer Mediation Cell will submit a quarterly report to the District Commission, State Commission or the National Commission about the cases settled through mediation.
“At the first hearing of the complaint after its admission or at any later stage if it appears to the District Commission that there exists elements of a settlement which may be acceptable to the parties, it may direct the parties to give in writing, within five days, the consent to have their dispute settled by mediation”, the Central Law read.
As per the State Act, the State Commission has jurisdiction to entertain the complaints where the value of goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds Rs 50,000 but does not exceed Rs 10 lakh. But the Central Act states: “The State Commission shall entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration exceeds Rs one crore but doesn’t exceed Rs 10 crore”. This indirectly means that District Commission will enjoy more powers under the Central Law as compared to State Law.
Under the State Act, any person aggrieved by any order made by the State Commission may prefer an appeal against such order to the High Court within a period of 30 days from the date of the order.
Following applicability of the Central Law from November 1, 2019 onwards, any person aggrieved by an order made by the State Commission may prefer an appeal against such order to the National Commission within a period of 30 days from the date of the order and order of the National Commission can be challenged only before the Supreme Court.
Even penalty for non-compliance of direction of the Central Authority, punishment for false or misleading advertisement, punishment for manufacturing for sale or storing, selling or distributing or importing product containing adulterant is much more under the Central Law as compared to the State Law.
“However, in order to strictly implement all the provisions of the Central Law, the Government is required to create separate Legal Metrology and Consumer Affairs Department by bifurcating it from the Food and Civil Supplies”, official sources stressed while disclosing that several States in the country have already created separate Consumer Affairs Department to strictly implement the Central Law.


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