(This story originally appeared in on Jul 17, 2020)NEW DELHI: From Monday, consumers can file complaints at district or state consumer commissions linked to the place where he stays or works rather than from where he bought any product or service. The government has notified most provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, which will come into force from Monday.
The provisions include consumers’ right to file cases against manufacturers, sellers or distributors of adulterated and spurious products in regular courts while they can file complaints in consumer commissions to seek compensation. The Act has set the quantum of punishment that a normal court can award, which is up to six months jail and fine of up to Rs 1 lakh even if such products do not result in any injury to the consumer. The punishment can be seven years jail and Rs 5 lakh fine in case there is grievous injury to the consumer. If it results in death, the offender can face at least seven years in jail, which may extend to life imprisonment, and with fine not less than Rs 10 lakh.
Consumer affairs secretary Leena Nandan told TOI that the provision with regard to functioning of Central Consumer Protection Authority and e-commerce will be notified in the next one or two weeks. While the consumer commissions at district, state and national level can entertain complaints from one individual or a group, the CCPA will have the power to take up cases for investigation suo motu and also forward cases for class action suit to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission where a large number of consumer are adversely impacted.
The CCPA will also have power to deal with misleading advertisements, including by celebrity endorsers. It will also have authority to order recall of faulty products, seize such items and even order refund to consumers. “The enforcement of the Act will be expedited by notifying the remaining provisions and rules,” the consumer affairs secretary said.
Sources said the CCPA will work in close coordination with the National Consumer Helpline Number, an agency engaged by the ministry to receive and resolve consumer complaints. “The consumer helpline, which receives about 50,000 complaints every month, will share the analysis such as frequent complaints against particular firm or against a product, delay in refund consumers. The CCPA can then take action. Largely, the CCPA will deal with grievances of a class of consumer. Individual complaints can be filed in consumer commissions,” said a source.
Though the government has notified the provision for electronic filing of complaints in the consumer commissions, the exact date to implement this will be notified by the president of (NCDRC).
The law has also introduced setting up of mediation cells in every commission for mutual settlement of complaints. However, these won’t entertain matters relating to proceedings in respect of medical negligence resulting in grievous injury or death and matters which relate to defaults or offences for which applications for compounding of offences have been made by one or more parties. Cases involving serious and specific allegations of fraud, fabrication of documents, forgery, impersonation, coercion won’t be taken up by these cells.