The Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised an Online Session on ‘Consumer Protection 2.0’ on Wednesday, 5th August 2020, on the Google Meet Platform.
Prashanth S. Shivadass, Advocate and Founder, Shivadass & Shivadass (Law Chambers) Bangalore and Jomol Joy, Advocate and Of-Counsel, Shivadass & Shivadass (Law Chambers) Bangalore were the Speakers at the meeting.
The President of the Chamber Mr. V Venugopal welcomed the participants to the virtual meeting.
The session covered, in detail, the changes, nuances and the new measures that are to be taken by both buyers and sellers, Comparisons between the 1986 Act and the 2019 Act, Interplay with other enactments, Liabilities and Responsibilities and the Do’s and don’ts for industry and consumers.
Mr. Shivadass said that this new Act will empower consumers and help them in protecting their rights through its various notified rules and provisions like the Consumer Protection Councils, the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions, Mediation, Product Liability and punishment for manufacture or sale of products containing adulterant / spurious goods.
He said that under the new law the CCPA (Central Consumer Protection Authority) will be empowered to conduct investigations into violations of consumer rights and institute complaints / prosecution, order recall of unsafe goods and services, order discontinuance of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements, impose penalties on manufacturers/endorsers/publishers of misleading advertisements. Mr. Shivadass further said that the rules for prevention of unfair trade practice by e-commerce platforms will also be covered under this Act.
Ms. Joy said under this Act every e-commerce entity is required to provide information relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, security of payment methods, charge-back options, etc. including country of origin which are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage on its platform. She said that e-commerce platforms have to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within forty-eight hours and redress the complaint within one month from the date of receipt under this Act.
Mr. Shivadass further said that the new Act provides for simplifying the consumer dispute adjudication process in the consumer commissions, which include, among others, empowerment of the State and District Commissions to review their own orders, enabling a consumer to file complaints electronically and file complaints in consumer Commissions that have jurisdiction over the place of his residence, videoconferencing for hearing and deemed admissibility of complaints if the question of admissibility is not decided within the specified period of 21 days.
Mr. Shivadass further said that the new Act also introduces the concept of product liability and brings within its scope, the product manufacturer, product service provider and product seller, for any claim for compensation. The Act provides for punishment by a competent Court for manufacture or sale of adulterant/spurious goods. He also added that the new Act provides for mediation as an Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism, making the process of dispute adjudication simpler and quicker. This will help with the speedier resolution of disputes and reduce pressure on consumer courts, which already have numerous cases pending before them.
Talking about the penalties of misleading advertisements, Ms. Joy said that the CCPA may impose a penalty of up to INR 1,000,000 (Indian Rupees One Million) on a manufacturer or an endorser, for a false or misleading advertisement. The CCPA may also sentence them to imprisonment for up to 2 (two) years for the same. In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to INR 5,000,000 (Indian Rupees Five Million) and imprisonment of up to 5 (five) years.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Shivadass said that in earlier Consumer Protection Act, 1986 a single point access to justice was given, which is also time consuming. The new Act has been introduced after many amendments to provide protection to buyers not only from traditional sellers but also from the new e-commerce retailers/platforms.
Following this, there was a brief discussion wherein the Speaker clarified the issues raised by the participants.
The meeting ended with the Deputy Secretary of the Chamber, Mr. Manu Varghese thanking everyone for having participated in the meeting.