New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019, which promises to strengthen the rights of consumers and provides a mechanism for redressal of complaints regarding defects in goods and deficiency in services.
Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan stressed that the overall purpose of the legislation was to ease the process of addressing grievances of consumers.
Apart from setting up of authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes, the new bill also seeks to bring in e-commerce under their jurisdiction and hold celebrities accountable for false and misleading advertisements of products that they endorse.
The Bill, replacing the earlier Consumer Protection Act, 1986, was passed after all the amendments moved by Opposition were negated.
Apart from the consumer courts at the district, state and national level, the bill proposes a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce consumer rights as a class and and protect them from unfair trade practices.
Mr. Paswan said the CCPA, envisaged as a regulator, can file class action suite if required and would take immediate action on any consumer complaint.
He said the bill proposed strict action against the advertiser in case of misleading advertisements but not against the media through which the advertisement is being publicised. It also provides for product liability action on account of harm caused to consumers due to defective products or deficient services.
BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy suggested that call drops and power cuts should also be considered under the ambit of this proposed law.
Opposing the bill, Congress member M.K. Vishnu Prasad claimed the bill would curb the freedom of consumers and encroach on the rights of the states. Echoing him, DMK’s K. Veeraswamy said the bill provides for “feudal rule, not federal rule” and it will take away consumer rights.
Jayadev Galla of the TDP said the bill didn’t mention healthcare as part of services even though a Supreme Court ruling had mentioned it, and is also silent on surrogate advertising of products like liquor.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi pointed how healthcare was not a part of the bill and accused the government of “surrendering before the health lobby.”
NCP's Supriya Sule supported the bill but asked who will the people turn to in cases of food adulterations or poor education and health services due to multiplicity of authorities.