The Consumer Protection Bill 2018, which was recently passed by the Lok Sabha, is slated to replace the existing act of Consumer Protection Act 1986. The Consumer protection Bill of 2018 has certain new features which were missing in the prevailing Consumer Protection Act 1986. The highlights of the new bill include the following features.
1. Addressing Growth of E- Commerce
One of the most notable features of the new bill is to attempt to address the concerns of the consumers arising from the growth of modern E- Commerce and false and misleading advertisements. This concern of the bill is apparent from the definitional clause of the new bill itself. According to the definition of ‘Consumer’ include all those who buy goods or avail the same service online through E- Commerce outlets, the further explanation has been provided under section 2(7) which defines consumer lays down
(b) The expression “buys any good” and “hires or avails any service” include online and offline transactions through electronic mode or by teleshopping or by direct selling or multinational marketing”.
2. Combating with the Misleading Statements
The second most notable feature of the new bill is to target against false and misleading statements which can be penalised with fines. On being reference made to the Central Consumer Protection Authority under Section 21 a fine up to Rs 10 lakh can be imposed on those who broadcast such false and misleading statement as well as one year ban. Repeated offences may attract the penalty of 50 lakh and a ban on exhibition/appearance up to three years can be made.
3. Creation of the Central Consumer Protection Authority
The bill proposes to create new authority called as the Central Consumer Protection Authority under Section 10 of the Act. As per the provision of Section 10, the Central authority is empowered to regulate on matters relating to the violations of the consumers rights, false and misleading statements and unfair trade practices. The task of the Central Consumer Protection Authority is to promote, protect and enforce the rights of the consumers. The functions of the Central Consumer Protection Authority includes
• Hearing complaints referred to the Central Consumer Protection Authority
• Make suitable recommendations to fortify consumer protection
• Research and awareness regarding the consumer protection
Chapter V of the new Bill provides with the procedure to be followed to refer the consumer dispute for mediation. Section 74 of the new bill provides for the creation for Mediation Cells to be attached to the District Consumer protection, State Consumer Commissions and National Consumer Commission. Section 37 under Chapter V provides for the reference of dispute for the process of mediation, if there is the possibility of settlement by the parties. Further in the Chapter V provides with the details of the procedure to be followed in mediating consumer disputes. If the parties to the dispute are unable to reach to the settlement through the process of mediation, the matter will be reverted back to the concerned forum to hear it.
5. Changes in the Pecuniary Jurisdiction
The new Consumer Protection bill of 2018 has revised the pecuniary jurisdiction for the three tiered Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission which are as follow:
• District Commission: Complaints valued up to Rs 1crore
• State Commission: Complaint valued between Rs 1crore- Rs 10 crore
• National Commission: Complaints valued up to Rs 10 crore or above