The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is a comprehensive legislation that aims to protect the rights and interests of consumers in India. The act came into effect on July 20, 2020, replacing the earlier Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The new act was enacted to address the changing market dynamics and to provide greater protection to consumers in the digital era.
Key provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 include:
- Definition of Consumer: The act defines a consumer as a person who buys any good or service for consideration. It also includes any user of such goods or services, except for a person who obtains such goods or services for resale or for commercial purpose.
- Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA): The act establishes the CCPA as a regulatory body to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers. The CCPA has the power to investigate, impose penalties, recall goods and services, and file class-action suits on behalf of consumers.
- Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission: The act provides for the establishment of Consumer Dispute Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) at the district, state and national levels. These commissions will have the power to adjudicate consumer complaints and impose penalties on businesses that violate consumer rights.
- Product Liability: The act introduces the concept of product liability, which makes manufacturers, service providers and sellers responsible for any harm caused to consumers due to defective goods or services. Consumers can claim compensation for any harm caused by defective goods or services, even if the manufacturer/seller was not aware of the defect.
- E-commerce: The act includes provisions to regulate e-commerce transactions and protect the interests of online consumers. E-commerce companies are required to provide details of sellers, product information, terms of sale, and the grievance redressal mechanism on their platform.
- Unfair Trade Practices: The act prohibits unfair trade practices such as false advertising, misleading claims, and unfair contracts. It also includes provisions to regulate endorsements and testimonials by celebrities and influencers.
- Mediation: The act provides for mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism to settle consumer disputes outside the court. The mediation process is voluntary, and both parties must agree to participate.
In the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, a consumer is defined as a person who:
- Buys any goods or services for a consideration, or
- Uses any goods or services with the approval of the buyer, except for the person who uses such goods or services for the purpose of resale or commercial use.
This means that the act covers all individuals who purchase goods or services for personal or household use, as well as those who use such goods or services with the consent of the buyer. The definition of a consumer under the act is broad and inclusive, and covers both offline and online transactions.
The act also provides protection to consumers against unfair trade practices, defective products and services, and other forms of exploitation by sellers and service providers. Consumers can file complaints and seek redressal for any grievance they may have with respect to the quality of goods or services purchased, misleading advertising, unfair contract terms, and other related issues.
Overall, the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 seeks to promote and protect the interests of consumers in India, and provides a legal framework for ensuring that consumers are treated fairly and equitably in all transactions.
A complainant is a person who files a complaint with a Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (CDRC) against a seller, service provider, or manufacturer for any deficiency in goods or services purchased. The complainant can be the consumer himself/herself or any recognized consumer association registered under the law.
To file a complaint, the complainant must meet certain criteria, such as being a consumer as defined under the act and having suffered a loss or damage due to the deficiency in goods or services purchased. The complaint must be filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action arose.
Once a complaint is filed, the CDRC examines the matter and may direct the parties to appear before it. The CDRC can also refer the matter for mediation or settle it through summary disposal, depending on the nature of the complaint. If the CDRC finds the seller, service provider, or manufacturer guilty of the deficiency in goods or services, it may order compensation to be paid to the complainant and take other appropriate action.
A consumer dispute in the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 refers to any disagreement between a consumer and a seller, service provider, or manufacturer with respect to a transaction involving goods or services. This dispute could arise due to various reasons, such as defective goods or services, overcharging, unfair trade practices, or breach of contract.
Under the act, a consumer can file a complaint before a Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (CDRC) at the district, state, or national level, depending on the value of the goods or services involved in the transaction. The CDRC has the power to adjudicate consumer disputes and can pass appropriate orders to provide redressal to the aggrieved consumer.
The act provides for a simple and expeditious procedure for the resolution of consumer disputes, and encourages the use of mediation as an alternative to court proceedings. If mediation fails, the CDRC may hold an inquiry, summon witnesses, and pass appropriate orders, including compensation, replacement of goods or services, or cancellation of a contract.
In addition, the act provides for the establishment of Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), which is a regulatory body that can investigate and take action against unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements that may harm consumer interests.
Unfair Trade Practices
unfair trade practices refer to any practice that is deceptive, false, or misleading in nature, and which may harm the interests of consumers. The act provides a comprehensive list of unfair trade practices, which includes the following:
- Making false or misleading statements about the nature, characteristics, suitability for their purpose, or quality of any goods or services.
- Falsely representing that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, grade, composition, or style.
- Representing second-hand goods or reconditioned goods as new goods.
- Falsely representing that any particular person has agreed to buy any goods or services.
- Falsely claiming that the seller, service provider, or manufacturer has a sponsorship, approval, endorsement, performance, or affiliation which he does not have.
- Falsely representing that goods or services have certain quantities, ingredients, accessories, uses, or benefits that they do not have.
- Offering goods or services for sale at a bargain price when such goods or services are not intended to be offered for sale at that price.
- Conducting any lottery or contest in connection with the promotion or sale of goods or services.
- Withholding from the consumer any information regarding the expiry date, guarantee, warranty, or return policy of any goods or services sold or provided.
- Making a false claim concerning the need for any goods or services, or the usefulness of any goods or services.
The act provides for penalties and other remedies against any person who engages in unfair trade practices, including the imposition of fines and imprisonment. Additionally, consumers can file complaints before the Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (CDRC) against any seller, service provider, or manufacturer who engages in such practices. The CDRC has the power to impose penalties and other remedies against the offending party, and can also refer the matter to the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) for investigation and action.