With the advent of e-commerce, digital marketing, convenient methods of digital payments and various other technological developments in Marketing and service Industry, the customers have got easy access to online shopping and a variety of avenues in service Industry . This new era has also fuelled the expectations and choices of the consumers. Consequently, a new set of problems and challenges relating to consumer protection have also begin to surface where the provisions of more than 3 decades old Consumer Protection Act-1986, were proving toothless.  

The Consumer Protection Act-1986 has, therefore, been replaced by ‘Consumer Protection Act, 2019’ to bring all such technological advancements in marketing and service Industry, within its ambit so that the Consumers Interests, consequent to new set of challenges   in the changing scenario are timely and effectively protected.

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 was notified on 9th August, 2019. However, the provisions of the C P Act 2019 have been enforced with effect from 20 July, 2020.

The landmark features of ‘The Consumer Protection Act, 2019’ for timely and effective administration of new age consumer disputes are as follows:

  1. The ‘District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum’ (DCDRF) is renamed as District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (DCDRC).

  2. The amount required to be deposited for preferring Appeal before SCDRC/NCDRC and Supreme Court   has now been revised. Now, the Opposite Party needs to deposit 50% of the amount ordered by the DCDRF/SCDRC or NCDRC for preferring appeal before the higher Fora. 

  3. The limitation for filing of appeal before State Commission has been increased from 30 days to 45 days. The power to condone the delay shall also remain with the commission. The limitation for preferring appeal before the NCDRC and Supreme Court, however, shall remain 30 days.

  4. Composition of the Commissions– The DCDRC shall have 1 President + 2 Members. (The word ‘shall be woman’ is omitted), SCDRC shall have a minimum of 1 President +4 Members and NCDRC shall have 1 President +4 Members. 

  5. The Original Pecuniary Jurisdiction has been upwardly revised at all levels to entertain the complaints/ Disputes as under–

  • a) District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (DCDRC) shall be up to Rs. 1 Crore,
  • b) State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) from Rs.1 Cr – Rs 10 Cr. and
  • c) National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) to be more than Rs. 10 crores.

  1. E-Commerce Transactions are now covered.  Any person who buys any   goods, whether through offline or online transactions, electronic means, teleshopping, direct selling or multi-level marketing shall fall within the definition of consumer.

  2. The provisions for E-filing of Complaint and hearing and/or examining parties through video-conferencing have also been introduced in the new Act. Needless to state, this is aimed at to provide easy procedure and reduce inconvenience to consumers.

  3. The territorial jurisdiction of filing complaint has been widened. Now, the complainant can also institute the complaint within the territorial jurisdiction of the Commission where the complainant resides or personally works for gain besides what was provided u/s 7 of the old Act.

  4. Section 49(2) and 59(2) of the new Act gives power to the State Commission and NCDRC respectively to declare any terms of contract, which is unfair to any consumer, to be null and void.

  5. Right to file the second appeal to NCDRC has been provided U/s 51(3) if there is a substantial question of law involved in the matter. Power of revision can also be exercised by NCDRC U/s 58(1)(b) and by State commission under 47(1)(b) of the Act.

  6. Power of review has been conferred to District Commission and State Commission also. Earlier, only NCDRC was having the power to review its Orders. NCDRC can hear appeals against the order of Central Authority by virtue of Section 58 of the Act.

  7. Period of limitation in filing of complaint remains 2 years with a provision for condonation of delay power U/s 69 of the Act.

  8. Section 70 provides for administrative control of State Commission over District Commission and that of NCDRC over State Commission. It inter alia provides for investigation into any allegations against the President and members of a State Commission / District Commission and submitting inquiry report to the State Government concerned along with copy endorsed to the Central Government for necessary action.

  9. Section 71 confers power on Commissions to enforce the of execution of its orders as Decree of civil Court, as provided Under Order XXI, The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 with such limitation as provided in the section.

  10. Mediation is given statutory status by way of introduction of Section 74 in the new Act.

  11. 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.

  12. Chapter III of the Act provides for creation of Central Authority to regulate matters relating to violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements.

  13. Penalties for Misleading Advertisement: The CCPA may impose a penalty of up to Rs.10,00,000 on a manufacturer or an endorser, for a false or misleading advertisement. The CCPA may also sentence them to imprisonment for up to 2 (two) years for the same. In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs 50, 00,000 (Indian Rupees Five Million) and imprisonment of up to 5 (five) years. The CCPA can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading advertisement from endorsing that particular product or service for a period of up to 1 (one) year. For every subsequent offence, the period of prohibition may extend to 3 (three) years.

With the enforcement of the New Act, gone are the days where the ‘consumer was asked to beware’. A consumer is now the one who assumes to be treated like a King and the above doctrine has been changed to ‘Let the seller be aware’. Hence, it is important for those doing consumer driven retail and e-commerce business as well as those in the service sector and advertising industry, to be vigilant and take adequate care/ caution and have robust policies dealing with consumer redressal in place. Consumer driven businesses must also strive to take extra precautions against unfair and unethical trade and business / practices.

(The above is just a bird’s eye view of the new Act. The Viewers may kindly refer to the notification the CP Act-2019 for details.)

2 Comments

  1. A compact review and comparison of the old and the new. Important differences are brought out clearly. Worth a read.

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