India

Consumer interests and laws

Online business, which is rapidly spreading across the country, has been brought under the purview of consumer law for the first time.

Yogesh Kumar Goyal

Online business, which is rapidly spreading across the country, has been brought under the purview of consumer law for the first time. On receiving the complaint of any consumer, now the e-business company will have to accept that complaint within forty-eight hours and it will also have to be resolved within a month.

The Central Government has renewed the jurisdiction of the District Consumer Courts under the Consumer Protection Act. The Center has notified the Consumer Protection Rules 2021, making this change under the Consumer Protection Act 2019. In fact, till now the District Consumer Commission was empowered to hear complaints of cases up to one crore rupees, while the State Consumer Commission had the right to hear complaints from one to ten crores and the National Consumer Commission had the right to hear complaints of more than ten crore rupees.

According to the new provisions, now the District Commission will have the right to hear complaints related to products and services valued above Rs 50 lakh, State Commission from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 2 crore and National Commission. In fact, the Center argues that due to the high limit of hearing of complaints under the old rules, cases with district and state level consumer commissions had increased significantly and these changes have been made for speedy disposal of complaints of consumers.

By the way, many laws were made to free the consumers from exploitation in the market. But ever since the Consumer Protection Act 1986 came into existence, the way has been paved for providing quick, speedy and low cost justice to the consumers, as well as companies and establishments providing any kind of services to the consumers. Committed to improving the quality of products. But despite all this, the process of exploitation of the consumer did not stop.

Even after the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act 1986, there was a continuous demand to strengthen consumer rights. Finally, on 20 July 2020, the Central Government implemented the ‘Consumer Protection Act-2019’ (Consumer Protection Act-2019). Parliament had approved the ‘Consumer Protection Bill 2019’ in the year 2019 itself and the new law is set to be implemented first in January 2020 and then later in March 2020.

But it could not be implemented due to the knock of Corona epidemic in March and then the complete ban. Finally, on 20 July 2020, the new consumer law came into force and the new law made to prevent day-to-day fraud with customers replaced the thirty four year old ‘Consumer Protection Act 1986’. Under the new law, a provision has been made to hear cases up to one crore rupees in the District Consumer Forum, while in the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, from one crore to ten crores and in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, cases above ten crore rupees have been made. Now under the new notification, this economic jurisdiction has been determined afresh.

The Consumer Protection Act 2019 envisages Central as an advisory body along with consumer courts to inquire and investigate matters relating to consumer rights, unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements to protect consumers from any kind of fraud and fraud. Arrangements have been made to set up Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA). Provisions such as fines and strict punishment have also been added to the companies involved in adulteration of food items and misleading advertisements on the manufacturer and advertiser.

According to these provisions, whether the product being promoted by the company is actually of the same quality or not, it will also be the responsibility of the advertiser. The Consumer Act on Misleading Advertisements empowers the CCPA to impose a fine of up to ten lakh rupees on the company with imprisonment of two to five years to those responsible. Not only this, in bigger and more serious cases the amount of fine up to fifty lakh rupees is also possible. The CCPA will have the right to take back the goods and services apart from examining consumer rights.

Online business, which is rapidly spreading across the country, has been brought under the purview of consumer law for the first time. On receiving the complaint of any consumer, now the e-business company will have to accept that complaint within forty-eight hours and it will also have to be resolved within a month. If any e-business company does not do this, then action will be taken against it. This rule will also apply to companies that may be registered abroad but are providing goods and services to Indian customers.

Display of details about product price, expiry date, return, refund, replacement, warranty-guarantee, delivery, mode of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods to e-merchant under e-business rules Such steps were made mandatory. The Consumer Protection Act (e-Commerce) Rules, 2020, clearly stipulate that every company operating an e-commerce platform shall keep all information received under sub-rule 5 of rule 6 by the seller of goods connected to the platform at a prominent place for its consumers. Arrange to be shown. Under these rules, it is mandatory for the government to appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer in India for e-commerce platforms, the notification for the appointment of Nodal Officer has come into force on 17 May 2021.

After the implementation of the new consumer law, there has been a plethora of complaints against e-business companies regarding the quality of goods, delay in delivery, delay in replacement of goods, etc. According to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, one in five complaints filed on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) is against e-business companies.

In the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution Ashwini Choubey, in response to a question, had also said that between April 2019 and November 2021, five lakh times, nine hundred and nineteen complaints were filed against e-business companies. Maximum sixty four thousand nine hundred twenty four complaints were registered against e-commerce companies in Maharashtra, followed by Uttar Pradesh sixty three thousand two hundred sixty five and Delhi with more than fifty thousand complaints. In most states this figure was twenty to thirty thousand.

However, after the implementation of the new Consumer Act, it was expected that while it would make the consumers of the country more powerful, it would also help in resolving consumer disputes in a timely and effective and speedy manner. But the way the Supreme Court has made strong remarks about the vacant posts in consumer protection commissions and tribunals of the Center and the states, it is clear that the government will have to show seriousness to give new heights to consumer rights.

The court had expressed strong displeasure that if these vacancies could not be filled, then the government should repeal the Consumer Protection Act itself. Consumer rights awareness is already relatively low in India as compared to many other countries, so when will consumer complaints be heard if posts in consumer protection commissions and tribunals remain vacant? In such circumstances, the dream of speedy justice will become a dream.

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Shivam Bangwal

Shivam Bangwal is an Indian based entrepreneur who is a tech, travel and coding enthusiast with a post graduation degree on Master's of Computer Applications. He is a founder of Youthistaan, People News Chronicle, Hitchhike TV, Branding Panther and many more.

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