Tamil Nadu

New Consumer Protection Act gives more power to consumers, experts say

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The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 which comes into effect from Monday (July 20), replacing the earlier Consumer Protection Act, 1986, gives more power to consumers, experts say.

“Now, a consumer can institute a complaint from where he resides or from where he works for gain. Under the earlier Act, complaints could be initiated only in the place where the transaction took place,” Chennai-based advocate Vasu Venkat pointed out. He said the opposite party needs to deposit 50% of the amount ordered by the District Commission before filing an appeal before the State Commission, which would curb the practice of filing frivolous appeals.

Key features of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 coming into effect from July 20
  • Consumers can now institute a complaint from where they reside or work for gain
  • The original pecuniary jurisdiction of District Commissions has increased to up to ₹1 crore from ₹20 lakh earlier
  • Pecuniary jurisdiction of State Commissions increased from ₹1 crore to Rs. 10 crore
  • National Commission can hear cases above ₹10 crore when compared to above ₹1 crore earlier
  • While provisions relating to e-commerce are not yet notified, a section relating to electronic service provider (covering software services, electronic payments) is notified
  • The opposite party needs to deposit 50% of the amount ordered by the District Commission before filing an appeal before the State Commission. Earlier, the ceiling was a maximum of ₹25,000, which has been removed.
  • The limitation period for filing of appeals to the State Commission has been increased from 30 days to 45 days
  • Parties can be allowed to settle the disputes through mediation

Varsha Raghavan of Chennai-based law firm Fox Mandal & Associates, said the new Act broadens the definition of consumer, by recognising those engaged in offline as well as online multi-level and telemarketing transactions, which will protect those rendered vulnerable in the wake of rapidly-developing technology.

“Provisions increasing pecuniary limits, providing statutory recognition to mediation processes, enabling filing of complaints from any jurisdiction and for hearing parties through video-conferencing will increase accessibility to judicial forums and afford crucial protection in times when international e-commerce giants are expanding their base,” she said.

While certain provisions regarding misleading advertisements, celebrity endorsement of products, constitution of the Apex Central Protection Authority, e-commerce etc. have not been notified yet, the notified provisions are poised to streamline and expand benefits to consumers, Ms. Raghavan pointed out. “Given that significant revisions have been undertaken, up-shots cannot be determined early on, and the new regime must be implemented effectively and allowed to take its course,” she said.

Some experts pointed out that the vacancies at District Commission levels needed to be filled, for effective implementation of the new Act.

The new Act defines an electronic service provider as a person who provides technologies or processes to enable a product seller to engage in advertising or selling goods or services to a consumer and includes any online marketplace or online auction sites. Mr. Venkat said the electronic service provider could cover services related to software downloads, electronic payments etc.

The Act defines e-commerce as buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over digital or electronic networks.

“The existing definition of e-commerce has been adopted from India’s FDI Guidelines on e-commerce. The definition of ‘e-commerce Entity’ as provided under the FDI Guidelines includes inventory and market place models, while the definition of ‘Electronic Service Provider’ seems to only include the marketplace model. We can expect further clarity regarding the same on finalisation of the guidelines on e-Commerce for consumer protection,” Ms. Raghavan said.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 11:47:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/new-consumer-protection-act-gives-more-power-to-consumers-experts-say/article32135908.ece

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