The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 – A Saviour
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (the Act) was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, on July 8, 2019.
The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 30, 2019 and the Rajya Sabha on August 06, 2019. It was notified in the Official Gazette on August 09, 2019 as the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, No. 35 of 2019. The Act replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The object of the Act is:
To provide for protection of the interests of consumers and for the said purpose, to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”
The Act replaces Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and enforces consumer rights and provides a mechanism for redressal of complaints regarding defect in goods and deficiency in services.
KEY ASPECTS OF THE ACT
The Act has been introduced while keeping in mind the new set of challenges and issues faced by the consumers in modern times owing to the digitization of the marketplace and the diversity of the goods and services that are being provided to the consumers.
The Act aims to provide a systematic and approachable platform to the consumer for redressal of disputes. It is an outcome of the ever-changing facets of the commerce and digitization of the consumer’s marketplace which has witnessed a new set of consumer expectations as well.
Even though the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 also provided for a mechanism for consumer grievance redressal, it was lacking in terms of keeping up with the modern digitized and electronic era. The Act aims to fill in the lacunae present in the Act of 1986.
Diversification of several definitions and meanings under the Act
Inclusion of e-commerce customers as “Consumer”.
The Act has revised the definition of “Consumer” to include those who make purchases online. This is a major aspect that has been incorporated to bring the e-commerce market within the ambit of the Act and ensure Consumer protection therein.
The Act now defines ‘Consumer’ as follows:
Section 2. (7)“consumer” means any person who—
(i) buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such use is made with the approval of such person, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose; or
(ii) hires or avails of any service for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such service other than the person who hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first mentioned person, but does not include a person who avails of such service for any commercial purpose.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this clause,—
(a) the expression “commercial purpose” does not include use by a person of goods bought and used by him exclusively for the purpose of earning his livelihood, by means of self-employment; (b) the expressions “buys any goods” and “hires or avails any services” includes offline or online transactions through electronic means or by teleshopping or direct selling or multi-level marketing;
“Food” has been added to the definition of “Goods” under the Act
The Act now defines “Goods” as under:
Section 2. (21) “goods” means every kind of movable property and includes “food” as defined in clause (j) of sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006;
“Telecom” has been added to the definition of “Services” to bring telecom service providers within the ambit of the Act.
The Act now defines “Services” as under:
Section 2. (42) “service” means service of any description which is made available to potential users and includes, but not limited to, the provision of facilities in connection with banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, telecom, boarding or lodging or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service;