House Nods to National Regulator to Address Consumer Plaints
Parliament on Tuesday passed the Consumer Protection Bill 2019 that seeks to address the issues of false and misleading advertisements and set up a national regulator to address consumer complaints, paving the way for strengthening of consumer rights.
Replying to the debate, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said he would consider additional suggestions for consumer protection while framing the rules under the legislation.
On Derek O'Brien's (TMC) suggestion to refer the Bill to select committee, the Minister said it had already incorporated suggestions by the standing committee and extensive consultations had taken place.
Amendments moved by members of various parties were defeated.
The Bill also promises to address the issues related to defects in goods and deficiency in services.
Introducing the Bill, Paswan said it provided for penalising manufacturer for not adhering to the promised quality and standards. Celebrities endorsing a product should only go by the standards and features, and should not promise anything else on their own, he added.
The Bill provides for product liability action on account of defective items. In certain cases, class action can also be initiated against companies for recall, refund and return of defective products.
Apart from setting up consumer courts at the district, state and national levels, the Bill proposes the central consumer protection authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce consumer rights as a class. The CCPA will protect consumers from unfair trade practices and can also take suo moto action against false and misleading advertisements.
Initiating the debate, K.C. Ramamurthy (Congress) said the aim of the Bill was to regulate e-commerce for protection of online consumers as this did not feature in the 1986 Act. The bill had certain broad loopholes with regards to e-commerce, he added.
Vijay Goel (BJP) stressed more consumer awareness and said, with consumers becoming aware of their rights more complaints would come for redressal and hence a mechanism should be in place to deal with them.
Stating that the Bill does not address the issues related to maximum retail price (MRP), Goel said it was a tool to loot consumers. Instead of MRP, the products must display minimum retail price, he said and added, "At times, MRPs are printed factoring in 300 per cent margin."
Manoj Jha (RJD) said disclaimer at the end of advertisements for mutual funds and other financial products were not audible and demanded measures to make people aware of risks associated with them.
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