Consumer Protection Bill Passed In Lok Sabha Amid Protest, Will Now Face The Test Of Rajya Sabha
In a bid to strengthen the consumer rights and provide a mechanism to address consumer grievances, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019.
The Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan said that the bill is an attempt to resolve consumer complaints related to defected goods services and defiant services.
The bill was earlier introduced the 16th Lok Sabha in December 2018, but was pending in Rajya Sabha. The bill was reintroduced in the Lok Sabha on July 8, 2019.
The bill if passed in Rajya Sabha will replace The Consumer Protection Act,1986.
Proposal For Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)
The new bill proposes Central Consumer Protection Authority for promoting, protecting and enforcing consumer rights to protect them from unfair trade practices. According to Paswan, CCPA if foresees any sort of malpractice, it has the power to file an action suit, if required. CCPA can also take immediate action against any customer complaint.
The new bill not only takes care of setting up of new authorities for timely and effective administration concerned with the settlement of consumer disputes, but it also expands the jurisdiction to E-Commerce.
Celebrities To Be Responsible For Endorsement
The bill holds celebrities responsible for endorsing a product which may mislead the consumers. It also proposes strict action against advertisers in case of false claims made about the product/services by them in any form of advertisements. However, the media publishing the advertisement will be spared from any action.
The bill also holds the manufacturer, service provider or seller responsible for any harm caused to customers due to defective products or deficient services.
So next time a celebrity endorses a noodle, pan masala, or any substance that can cause you cancer, they will be held accountable.
Congress, DMK, TDP, AIMIM Oppose The Bill
Congress MP M.K. Vishnu Prasad said that the bill would curb freedom of consumers.
DMK’s K Veeraswamy’s opinion also resonated with his congress colleague. He said that the bill provides for “feudal rule, not federal rule”, and will directly snatch the consumer’s rights.
TDP Minister, Jayadev Galla stated that the bill did not mention about healthcare as a part of services even after a Supreme Court ruling had mentioned it. He also added that bill did not take a clear stand on the advertisement of surrogate products like liquor.
AIMIM Chief, Asaduddin Owaisi also touched upon the fact that healthcare was not made the part of the bill and accused the government of “surrendering before health lobby”.
While NCP’s Supriya Sule stood for the bill, she expressed concerns over the fact that whom will the people address in case of food adulterations or poor education and health services due to the multiplicity of authorities.
Pratima Mondal of TMC claimed that intentions of the bill are to intervene upon the rights of the state. “Consumer protection is a sensitive matter and it should be dealt with caution,” she said.