Consumer Protection Act, 2019: A New Milestone in Empowering Consumers
30th Jan, 2020
- The Indian consumer market has gone through a drastic change over the last two decades with the advent of digital Technologies internet, rapid penetration of e-commerce, smart phones and cloud technologies.
- The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 being the foremost legislature for protecting the rights of consumers has become archaic and does not cover rapid changes in the consumer market places, especially those dealing with online shopping, teleshopping, product recall and unsafe contracts and misleading advertisements.
- It was felt to replace it with the consumer protection act 2019. Therefore, it was felt to replace it with the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
- It provides for the protection of consumers and fast – track alternatives so that justice reaches to the aggrieved consumers immediately.
- Innovative methods such as mediation, establishment of Central Consumer Protection Authority, class action suits would be part of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
- Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provided a legislative framework for better protection of the interests of the consumer by creating a formal but three- tier quasi-judicial dispute resolution mechanism at National State, and District levels exclusively for consumers.
- The Consumer Court were established with twin objectives for speedy redressal of consumer complaints and establish quasi-judicial authorities unlike civil courts to provide compensation to the consumers.
Shortcomings in the CPA, 1986
- The CPA, 1986 has become outdated and does not consider rapid changes in consumer marketplace. Due to heavy pendency of cases and frequent adjournments, delay in getting justice takes place.
- The consumer commissions have been overburdened with pending cases and the buyer-seller contract is tilted in favor of the seller.
- There are more than 400 posts of president and members in various consumers forums which are lying vacant. The State Governments shows less interest in immediately filling up the vacant posts and the issue of consumer protection is not always at the top of any political parties’ agenda.
- Consumer commission are functioning with staff deputed from other departments who do not have any experience in judicial practices. It is seen that the award ordered by consumer commissions is very meagre and the consumer has to run from pillar to post to get the orders implemented.
- There has been lack of proper coordination among the president and members of the consumer commissions for timely adjudication of cases and quite often around ten or fifteen adjournment are allowed.
- The president of the National Commission/State Commissions are not empowered to take up suo motu action in consideration of the damages affecting a sizable number of population, e.g., misleading advertisements.