The Consumer Protection Bill 2018 was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday for strengthening the rights of consumers and providing a mechanism for redressal of their complaints.
Moving the Bill for its passage, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs Ramvilas Paswan said the Bill was non-controversial and was in the interest of the consumers.
He said the Bill, which seeks to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers' disputes, is above partisan politics.
The Minister said that a penalty provision has been incorporated in the Bill, but does not envisage jail terms. The Consumer Protection Bill 2018, which will replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, will now go to the Rajya Sabha next for passage of the Bill.
What the Bill proposes?
The bill, among other things, proposes setting up of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and forums at the District, State and National levels for adjudicating consumer complaints.
It will have the power to set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce consumer rights as a class.
The Bill says if a consumer suffers an injury from a defect in a good or a deficiency in service, s/he may file a claim of product liability against the manufacturer, the seller, or the service provider. It defines contracts as "unfair" if they significantly affect the rights of consumers.
The Bill also defines unfair and restrictive trade practices and establishes Consumer Protection Councils at the district, state and national levels to render advise on consumer protection.
It sets up the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions as quasi-judicial bodies to adjudicate disputes and empowers the central government to appoint members to these commissions. The Bill does not specify that the commissions will comprise a judicial member.
If the commissions were to have members only from the executive, the principle of separation of powers may be violated, said the Bill.
Offences and penalties
The Bill says that any manufacturer or service provider who causes a false or misleading advertisement to be made which is prejudicial to the interest of consumers shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to two years and with fine to ten lakh rupees.
It says that the CCPA can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading advertisement from endorsing any particular product or service for a period of up to one year.
If a person does not comply with the orders of the District, State or National Commissions, he may face imprisonment up to three years, or a fine not less than Rs 25,000 extendable to Rs one lakh, or both, the Bill said.
The Bill says that a product liability action may be brought by a complainant against a product manufacturer or a product service provider or a product seller for any harm caused to him on account of a defective product.
A product manufacturer shall be liable in a product liability action even if he proves that he was not negligent or fraudulent in making the express warranty of a product, it says. A product liability action cannot be brought against the product seller if, at the time of harm, the product was misused, altered, or modified, the Bill added.
--With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Dec 21, 2018 14:40:03 IST