The Central Government has issued a notification by which it appoints the 20th day of July, 2020 as the date on which the many provisions of the Consumer Protection Act , 2019 shall come into force. The following provisions will be coming into force with effect from the aforesaid date:
Last year, the Parliament had passed the Consumer Protection Bill 2019, which seeks to wholly replace the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The Act seeks to provide for protection of the interests of consumers and for the said purpose, to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers' disputes. The Bill received the assent of the President on 9th August, 2019.
Central Consumer Protection Council
The provisions relating to Constitution and powers of Central Consumer Protection Council are not included in the notification. However, the Rules on Composition of Central Council., their term etc has been notified.
As per these Rules, the Central Council which shall consist of the following members, not exceeding thirty-six, namely: —
State Commission and District Commission
The Department of Consumer Affairs has also issued notification regarding framing of Consumer Protection (Salary, allowances and conditions of service of President and Members of the State Commission and District Commission) Model Rules, 2020. Consumer Protection (Qualification for appointment, method of recruitment, procedure of appointment, term of office, resignation and removal of the President and members of the State Commission and District Commission) Rules, 2020 has also been notified. These Rules would also come into force on July 20.
As per these Rules following are the Qualifications for appointment of President and members of the State Commission.—
Qualifications for appointment of President and member of District Commission are:
In supersession of the Consumer Protection Rules, 1987, Consumer Protection (Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions) Rules, 2020, have also been notified.
The Act also mandates the Consumer Fora and Commissions to explore mediation possibilities before adjudicating the complaint. Consumer Protection (Mediation) Rules, 2020 have also been notified. The Rules provides a list of matters not to be referred to mediation The following matters shall not be referred to mediation, namely:—
Some of the salient features of the new Act are as follows:
The Act contains provisions to deal with misleading advertisements. 'Misleading advertisements' are defined under Clause 2(28) as advertisement, which—(i) falsely describes such product or service; or (ii) gives a false guarantee to, or is likely to mislead the consumers as to the nature, substance, quantity or quality of such product or service; or (iii) conveys an express or implied representation which, if made by the manufacturer or seller or service provider thereof, would constitute an unfair trade practice; or (iv) deliberately conceals important information.
Misleading advertisements can attract penalty upto rupees ten lakhs from the CCPA under Clause 21. It is also an offence punishable with with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to fifty lakh rupees as per Clause 89.
Liability of celebrity endorsers
The Act addresses the liability of endorsers. "Endorsement",is defined under Clause 2(18) to mean:- (i) any message, verbal statement, demonstration; or (ii)depiction of the name, signature, likeness or other identifiable personal characteristics of an individual; or (iii)depiction of the name or seal of any institution or organisation,which makes the consumer to believe that it reflects the opinion, finding or experience of the person making such endorsement. The endorser can be levied with penalty up to rupees ten lakhs by the CCPA for false and misleading advertisements, under Clause 21. However, the endorser will not be liable if he has exercised due diligence to verify the veracity of the claims made in the advertisement regarding the product or service being endorsed by him.
The Act incorporates a special chapter-Chapter VI- to deal with 'product liability'. As per Clause 2(34) "product liability" means the responsibility of a product manufacturer or product seller, of any product or service, to compensate for any harm caused to a consumer by such defective product manufactured or sold or by deficiency in services relating thereto; According to 2(22), "harm", in relation to a product liability, includes— (i) damage to any property, other than the product itself; (ii) personal injury, illness or death; (iii) mental agony or emotional distress attendant to personal injury or illness or damage to property; or (iv) any loss of consortium or services or other loss resulting from a harm referred above. But it will not include any harm caused on account of breach of warranty conditions or any commercial or economic loss, including any direct, incidental or consequential loss relating thereto;'
A product liability action may be brought by a complainant against a product manufacturer or a product service provider or a product seller, as the case may be, for any harm caused to him on account of a defective product. It can be brought against even the product seller in certain circumstances like seller exercising substantial control over designing, packing, testing, manufacturing etc, or seller altering or modifying the product. The seller will also be liable if he failed to exercise reasonable care in assembling, inspecting or maintaining such product or he did not pass on the warnings or instructions of the product manufacturer regarding the dangers involved or proper usage of the product while selling such product.
Expanded definition of 'deficiency'
The Act expands the definition of 'deficiency' in Clause 2(11) to include :-(i) any act of negligence or omission or commission by such person which causes loss or injury to the consumer; and(ii) deliberate withholding of relevant information by such person to the consumer;
Enhanced pecuniary jurisdiction
The limits of pecuniary jurisdiction has been expanded in the following manner :-
The Act makes violation of consumer rights punishable offences and has Chapter VII dealing with them . As stated above, misleading advertisements are made punishable. The Act also addresses the menace of adulteration, by making manufacture, sale, storage of products mixed with adulterants punishable offences. Cognizance of offence can be taken by a court only on a complaint filed by CCPA. The Act also contains expanded definitions for "unfair trade practise" and "unfair contracts" under Clauses 2(47) and 2(46) respectively. The Central Government is empowered to make rules to regulate direct selling, multi-level marketing, e-commerce, tele-shopping etc.
Liability For Misleading Advertisements, Celebrity Endorsements : Key Features Of Consumer Protection Bill Passed By Parliament [Read Bill]
Understanding The Consumer Protection Bill 2019
Analyzing Product Liability Under The Consumer Protection Act 2019
Product Liability Under Consumer Protection Act, 2019
Consumer Protection Act 2019, Rules and Regulations
Consumer Protection Act 2019
Consumer Protection (Salary, allowances and conditions of service of President and Members of the State Commission and District Commission) Model Rules, 2020.
Consumer Protection (Qualification for appointment, method of recruitment, procedure of appointment, term of office, resignation and removal of the President and members of the State Commission and District Commission) Rules, 2020
Consumer Protection (Central Consumer Protection Council) Rules, 2020.
Consumer Protection (Mediation) Rules, 2020
Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020
Consumer Protection (Consumer Commission Procedure) Regulations, 2020.
Consumer Protection (Mediation) Regulations, 2020
Consumer Protection (Administrative Control over the State Commission and the District Commission) Regulations, 2020.
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