Have you ever imagined the globalized world without the ‘Free Market Activity’? The free market is one where the voluntary exchange of goods and services are governed by laws of ‘Demand and Supply’. For this to happen both the parties to the exchange, Producer/Manufacturer and Consumer must be on the equal footing. The new era of consumer jurisprudence was ushered in India after the enactment of consumer protection act, 1986, which changed the old status quo of ‘Caveat Emptor’ meaning ‘Let buyers beware’ to ‘Caveat Venditor’ meaning ‘ Let sellers beware’, by empowering consumers with certain rights.
From then 1986 to now 2019, especially after the internet becoming an essential part of our daily life. This particular technology has transformed the way we consume whether knowledge, product or services. It became predominantly important to overhaul the consumer act therefore Parliament enacted a new Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
Highlights of Consumer Protection Act, 2019
Here, consumer means, any person who is consuming for personal needs whether he has paid himself or another person has availed the services or products for consideration. In Indian Medical Association v V.P. Shantha, Supreme Court has held that professional services rendered for consideration come within the ambit of service as defined in section 2(1)(o) of 1986 act and section 2(42) of 2019 act.
Deletion of Healthcare from the definition of services
Although a new amendment brought by parliament removed ‘healthcare’ from the list of services following stiff opposition from the medical fraternity. Even after the removal from the list, the interpretation of SC in V.P. Shanta case will hold, till the parliament does apply from prospective effect, till then all judgement by SC will not cease to apply in future cases. However, the time will tell which way the courts will decide, when a similar question will raise on grounds of removal of Healthcare from services list under the consumer protection act, 2019
Three types of additional unfair trade practices have now been added to the list which is as follows:
iii. Disclosing any consumer’s personal information to any other person outside the ambit of any law for the time being in force or public interest
An establishment of new central authority, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (“CCPA”) under section 10 of the act to promote, protect, and enforce the rights of consumers against misleading advertisements and unfair trade practices.
This authority will have investigative powers related to consumer rights violations as well as to bring class-action suits.
The pecuniary jurisdiction of all three commissions has been raised under CPA 2019. The changes are reflected in the table below:
Up to INR 20,00,000
Upto INR 10,000,000
INR 10,000,000- INR 100,000,000
Above INR 100,000,000
The several important issues have been addressed while making the consumer protection act, 2019 to empower and strengthen the consumer protection regime by leveraging responsibilities not only of the sellers, manufacturers, service providers, but also the endorsers of such products.
The new act also attempted for more expedite dispute resolution by increasing the pecuniary jurisdiction of the commissions, attaching mediation cells, increasing the members of the commissions, imposing higher penalties etc. This act just like its predecessor act of 1986 will have a greater impact on protecting the rights of consumers.
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