Hyderabad: It’s been more than two months since the new Consumer Protection Act 2019 was published in the official government Gazette. But still, it has not been implemented. Consumer activists, question, how long they will have to continue to use the old Consumer Protection Act of 1986 before the new one is applied.
An RTI reply from the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public administration reads, “The Consumer Protection Act 2019 has been enacted and published in the gazette on August 9, 2019. However, it is yet to be implemented. It will be implemented only after the rules to be framed under the provisions of the Act are notified.”
The Consumer Protection Act - 2019 proposes stern measures and tightens the existing rules to safeguard the consumers’ rights further. It includes the introduction of a Central regulator, strict penalties for misleading advertisements and guidelines for e-commerce and electronic service providers.
Mr Rohan Nahar, an RTI activist from Chennai who filed the RTI, told NewsMeter, “The Old Consumer Protection Act of 1986 has several lacunae. By not implementing new laws and amendments at the earliest, the government is paving the way for miscreants to violate consumer rights.”
He further adds, “The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 also gives a simplified dispute resolution process by mediation and e-filing of cases. The consumer will be able to file cases in the nearest commission under the jurisdiction of which they reside. Additionally, the new Act allows consumers to file their complaint with the court from anywhere. This is a big relief as earlier they were required to file a complaint in the area where the seller or service provider is located.”
“While the provisions of CPA 1986 prescribed six major grounds to file complaints, CPA 2019 has increased the count to seven (7) by adding — Unfair Trade Contracts. In the old CP Act – 1986, a complaint could be filed only if an unfair trade practises or a restrictive trade practise is adopted by any trader or service provider. Now ‘unfair contract’ has also been added which further broadens the ground to file complaints and challenge contracts which are unfair, unjust and unreasonable”, Nayar explained.
Mr Vijay Gopal, Founder- Forum Against Corruption, said, “The Consumer Protection Act was passed in August 2019, and is yet to be notified. When are the rules going to be framed? Not a single consumer court except that is Chandigarh is resolving cases in 90 days, levying no mandatory penalties as required u/s 14(1) (h) (HB). The govt took more than 30 years to understand the need for a new act, will it take another 30 years to notify it? The need is urgent, and the ministry should expedite the process and notify it soon.”
Clauses like class-action suit, consumer protection cell, are critical. After notification, the ministry should also confirm by when these cells will be made active for receiving complaints from consumers and what is the deadline for them to solve the problem, he adds.
Mrs Nagalakshmi, deputy task in-charge and in-charge of the Telangana Consumer Information and Redressal Centre told NewsMeter, “The government of India has requested suggestions from all the consumer affairs departments across the country. From the Telangana Consumer Affairs department, we have already sent suggestions. The government may implement the new consumer act as soon as they receive all suggestions from the consumer affairs department”.