According to E. Friedman, the modern State is working as a protector, provider, economic controller and an arbitrator. Due to this, the functions of the State have been increased in leaps and bounds. Diverse consumer goods have flooded the market facilitating a tremendous growth in the production of goods and commodities; nevertheless, deterioration in the quality of these items has also been witnesses to a great extent. In light of the same, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted which emerged as a rescuer to the masses at a large. This was one of the benevolent pieces of legislation intended to protect a large body of consumer from exploitation. Though technological advancement and digitalization has provided availability of large variety and choices to the consumer, easy payment systems, easy access and improved services relating to shopping, however, evolution of technology and enormous advancement of the digital and e-commerce market has germinated various predicaments pertaining to the consumer protection. The framework of 1986 Act was not adequate enough to deal with the challenges and issues of the new age market. Hence, with a view to provide robust remedy and enhance and protect the consumer rights in a digital market, the government has introduced the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. This act has been formulated with an eye towards expanding the scope of consumer grievances thereby providing effortless process of filing complaints, timely and effective administration and settlements of consumer dispute, and other like objectives. The new law seeks to replace the old law which is more than three decades old and outdated. Consequent to the notification of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, released on 15th July, 2020, the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is set to be implemented from 20th July 2020. The notification further provides for the sections that will come into effect as on the date.
2. Key features of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019
A. Widening the definition of “consumer”
The definition of “consumer” has been expanded to include any person who engages in online or offline transactions through electronic means or by tele-shopping or direct selling or multi-selling marketing. It is important to note that the earlier Act of 1986 did not provide any such provision relating to e-commerce transactions.
B. Inclusion of E-Commerce Transaction
The Act provide for various provisions relating to E-Commerce Transactions. The E-Commerce has been defined as buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over digital or electronic network. The Act further empower the Central Government to formulate measures to prevent unfair trade practices in e-commerce, direct selling, and other like modes.
C. Rights of Consumer
The new Act, seeks inter alia, to promote and protect the rights of a consumer such as:
- the right to be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;
- the right be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services;
- the right be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices; and
- the right seek redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practices.D. Establishment of Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) as New Regulatory Authority
The new Consumer Protection regime provides for the establishment of a regulatory authority known as Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) which is conferred with wide powers to promote, protect, and enforce the rights of consumers relating to misleading advertisements and unfair trade practices. The CCPA has also been granted wide powers to take suo-moto actions, recall products, order reimbursement of the price of goods/services, cancel licenses and file class action suits, if a consumer complaint affects more than one individual.
E. Expansion of Pecuniary Jurisdiction
The Pecuniary Jurisdiction of the District Commission, the State Commission and the National Commission has been raised under the new Consumer Protection Act, 2019. Accordingly, the District Commission shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration does not exceed Rs. 1, 00,00,000/- (Rupees One Crore). The State Commission shall have the jurisdiction where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration, exceeds Rs. 1, 00,00,000/- (Rupees One Crore), but does not exceed Rs. 10, 00,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Crore)  and the National Commission can exercise jurisdiction where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration exceeds Rs. 10, 00,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Crore).
F. Provision for E-filing of Complaints
With an aim to provide procedural flexibility and ease and reduction in the pendency of consumer cases and harassment of consumer, the Act of 2019 provides for filing of online complaints in a consumer forum with the jurisdiction of the consumer which can either be the place of work or residence of the consumer. The new Act further contains enabling provisions for consumers to file complaints electronically and for hearing and/or examining parties through video-conferencing.
G. Product Liability
Product liability has been considered as one of the significant aspect introduced under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. Product liability means the liability of a product manufacturer, service provider or seller to compensate a consumer for any harm or injury caused by a defective good or deficient service. To claim compensation, a consumer has to prove any one of the conditions for defect or deficiency, as stipulated in the Act. Provisions relating to Product Liability has been provided under chapter VI of the Act and it is important to note that the act has further defined a product manufacturer, product seller and product service provider who can be made liable under the provisions of the act.
H. Unfair Trade Practices and Penalty for Misleading Advertisement
The Act has also expanded the definition of “unfair trade practices” thereby including three additional types of unfair trade practices which also includes sharing of personal information given by the consumer in confidence, unless such disclosure is made in accordance with the provisions of any other law. It is also pertinent to note that the act also provides for penalty for misleading advertisement. The CCPA may impose penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to Rs. 10,00,000 (Rupees Ten Lakhs) and imprisonment for up to 2 (two) years for a false or misleading advertisement. In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs 50,00,000 (Rupees Fifty Lakhs) and imprisonment of up to 5 (five) years. The CCPA can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading advertisement from endorsing that particular product or service for a period of up to 1 (one) year. For every subsequent offence, the period of prohibition may extend to 3 (three) years. However, there are certain exceptions when an endorser will not be held liable for such a penalty under the Act.
I. Provision for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 provides for settlement of dispute by way of mediation in the event there is a possibility of settlement at the stage of admission of complaint or at any later stage, if acceptable to both parties. This will facilitate speedier resolution of disputes, thereby minimizing the thrust of cases on the consumer courts.. The Act provides for establishment of consumer mediation cell which will be introduced to each District, State and National Commission and its regional Benches for quick resolution.
With the introduction of various new provisions relating to the present situation in the market, the Act of 2019 is set out to provide various remedies to the consumers who are affected due to the dominant position of the seller and / or manufactures. With the advent of provisions of e-commerce transactions, e-filing and ADR mechanism, the act also aims at improving the scope of the earlier Act, thereby improving the dispute resolution system and providing speedy remedy to the consumers. The Act is has been well formulated to deal with the challenges and issues of the present market and help to protect and promote the rights of the consumers. Further, with a new hope among the consumers, it is anticipated that the new enactment may curtail the mischievous benefit of “caveat emptor” availed by the seller and / or manufactures to shrug off the liabilities of their shoulders and safeguard the interests of the consumers.
https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/sites/default/files/Act%20into%20force.pdf last visited on July 19, 2020.
 The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, s. 2(7).
 The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, s. 2(16).
 The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, s. 94 and s. 101(zg)
 The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, s. 10.
 The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, s. 34 (1).
 The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, s. 47 (1).
 The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, s. 58 (1).
 https://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/consumer-protection-bill-2019 last visited on July 19, 2020.
 The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, s. 74 – 81.
New Delhi, the 9th August, 2019/Shravana 18, 1941 (Saka)
The following Act of Parliament received the assent of the President on the 9th August, 2019, and is hereby published for general information:—
THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019
NO. 35 OF 2019
[9th August, 2019.]
An Act 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. BE it enacted by Parliament in the Seventieth Year of the Republic of India as follows:—
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