M A I N   N E W S

Tougher consumer laws in offing
* Govt plans to bring e-commerce under Consumer Act
* May set up independent probe authority
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 15
The Narendra Modi government is planning to bring about major changes in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 to benefit consumers in the hitherto complex and largely seller-advantageous complaints redress system.

Apart from making the complaint registration procedure simpler for consumers, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs is planning to bring under the ambit of the Act e-commerce companies (fast-growing sector whose business models and trade practices are under the scrutiny of the Commerce Ministry after serious complaints) along with services such as airlines, railways and couriers.

Amendments include setting up of an independent authority — the Central Consumer Protection Authority — which can conduct investigations, either suo motu or on a complaint, into violations of consumer rights. It will largely investigate cases involving group complaints (where more than one individual is the complainant).

The ministry led by LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan is working on making the Act “simpler and more effective to ensure speedy and inexpensive dispensation of justice”, government functionaries today said.

No lawyer “will be allowed” for cases involving financial transactions up to Rs 2 lakh. This is “to save consumers from unscrupulous lawyers. Consumers can directly approach the court if the good purchased costs less than Rs 2 lakh. They can also file complaints on the Internet,” an official said. The amended Act will include provisions for action against e-commerce companies “where there is no liability of either seller or producer for misleading the consumers”.

“Not much attention has been paid to the important department (Consumer Affairs) till now. The aim is to go beyond the existing ‘Jago grahak jago’ concept and make consumers the real kings,” the official said.

The government is also planning to bring services such as airlines, insurance and courier companies and also the Railways under the ambit of the Act.

“If a flight is cancelled the money is disbursed, but the Act plans to take the deliverance of services to a new level. The airline will also be responsible for losses incurred by the passenger because of the cancellation of flight. Likewise, courier companies will have to compensate customers for late deliverance,” the official said.

The aim is to simplify the legal procedure for consumers, who, after the amendments are cleared by Parliament, would be able to file a complaint from the place they live and not necessary the place they have bought the item from, as was the case till now.

Officials say another important change is that action will be initiated within 21 days of registering the complaint.

The government is also starting “one-stop solution centres” at seven places. Consumers will be provided awareness, consultation and litigation to the consumers under one roof.

Buyer-friendly measures

  • Govt is planning to make the Act ‘simpler and more effective’ to ensure speedy justice
  • E-commerce, airlines, railways, insurance & courier cos. to be brought under its ambit
  • Consumers can approach court without a lawyer if a good costs less than Rs 2 lakh
  • E-commerce companies will face action if there is no liability of seller or producer
  • Consumers can file a complaint from the place they live and not where they have bought the item from
  • Action will be initiated within 21 days of registering the complaint
  • ‘One-stop solution centres’ at seven places to assist consumers under one roof
  • Misleading ads may draw punitive action





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