Consumer Protection Bill 2019 puts in place stricter norms for misleading ads
Under the Bill, there is a provision for the central government to set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority, which will be empowered to investigate, recall, refund and impose penalties
The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Consumer Protection Bill 2019, with the aim to protect the interests of consumers, address and resolve their issues in a hassle-free manner.
Moving the Bill, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Raosaheb Patil Danve said, “The bill aims to simplify a number of rules. Consumers do not get quick redressal of their complaints and with the passage of the Bill, consumers will be able to get speedy justice. The government aims to simplify the entire process of redressal of consumer grievances.
Under the Bill, there is also a provision for the central government to set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers. CCPA will be empowered to investigate, recall, refund and impose penalties. It will regulate matters related to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and misleading advertisements. There is also a provision for class action law suit for ensuring that 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 Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.
The Bill also has the provision for rules for new age consumer issues, pertaining to e-commerce and direct selling.
CCPA, an Executive Agency, has been formed to provide relief to consumers. It will be empowered to conduct investigations into violations of consumer rights, institute Complaints/Prosecution, and order recall of unsafe goods and services among other things. The other salient features include a simplified dispute resolution process followed by mediation, which includes an Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
There will be thorough focus on product liability where in a manufacturer or product service provider or product seller will be responsible to compensate for injury or damage caused by a defective product or deficiency in services.
Applauding the Bill, D Shivakumar, Chairman, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said: "This is a great development in favour of consumers and ASCI welcomes the passing of the new Consumer Protection Bill. Protection of consumers’ interest is also ASCI’s core mission. As an expert body dealing with complaints pertaining to misleading advertisements, ASCI has been working closely with the Department of Consumer Affairs. Complaints being received on the GAMA portal are being examined by ASCI since the launch of the GAMA portal. We expect this co-regulation model to be strengthened further as per recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee."
Agnello Dias, Creative Chairman, Dentsu Aegis Network India, stressed on the importance of the implementation of the Bill.
"As with laws in India, it is not the formulation of the law but its implementation that holds the key. If it’s enforced selectively, that opens up another avenue for corruption. I’m quite intrigued about whether political advertising comes under its ambit and if so, can those claims be construed as misleading if not fulfilled?"
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