The new Consumer Protection Act, 2019 came into force on 20th July 2020 and it will empower consumers and help them in protecting their rights through its various notified rules and provisions.
The new act will be swift and less time consuming compared to the older Consumer Protection Act, 1986 in which single-point access to justice was given making it a time-consuming exercise.
The old act provided for a three-tier consumer dispute redressal machinery at the National (National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission), State and District levels.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 establishes the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) whose primary objective will be to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.
It is 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.
Rules on E-commerce and Unfair Trade Practices: The government will notify the Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020 under the Act whose broad provisions are given below.
E-commerce entities are required to provide information to consumers, 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 and country of origin.
These are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage.
These platforms will have to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within 48 hours and redress the complaint within one month from the date of receipt. They will also have to appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal.
The Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020 are mandatory and are not advisories.
Sellers cannot refuse to take back goods or withdraw services or refuse refunds, if such goods or services are defective, deficient, delivered late, or if they do not meet the description on the platform.
The rules also prohibit the e-commerce companies from manipulating the price of the goods or services to gain unreasonable profit through unjustified prices.