With the availability and sale of countless products in the market, there arise countless complaints too regarding the products beginning right from when the products are being purchased to after they enter the premises of the buyer’s house. One of the most well-established factors in the context of consumers and their goods is the after-sale services that are provided once the product or service has been availed by the consumer. With the scraping off of the age-old principle of ’Caveat emptor’ i.e. buyer beware, the post-sale services are further necessary for getting an appropriate resolution on consumer’s end when the consumers don’t reach the desired satisfaction level with the money that they spent on their products or services. However, there are circumstances where the resolution cannot be reached between the vendor and the consumer and in that case, the Consumer Protection law has to come to the play to provide an appropriate grievance redressal
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AMENDED ACT OF 2019:
Purchase of food has been covered under the definition of ‘Goods’ under section 2(21)
The definition of ‘endorsement’ in relation to an advertisement has been added under section 2(18) which includes :
- Any message, verbal statement, demonstration; or
- Depiction of the name, signature, likeness or other identifiable personal characteristics of an individual; or
- Depiction of the name or seal of any institution or organisation,
which makes the consumer believe that it reflects the opinion, finding or experience of the person making such endorsement
Section 21 conveys the power of Central Authority to issue directions and penalties against false or misleading advertisements. Under sub-section (1), it can issue directions to the concerned trader or manufacturer or endorser or advertiser or publisher, to discontinue a false or misleading advertisement or to modify the same.
Whereas sub-section (2) imposes a penalty on the manufacturer or the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement which may extend to ten lakh rupees
The authority is empowered to prohibit the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement from making an endorsement of any product or service for a period which may extend to one year under sub-section (3) of section 21
Section 49(2) gives the power to the State Commission to declare any terms of a contract, which is unfair to any consumer, to be null and void whereas under section 59(2) the National Commission has been invested with the same powers where it may also declare any terms of a contract, which is unfair to any consumer to be null and void.
Section 10 sub-section (1) mentions the establishment of a Central Consumer Protection Authority to regulate the matters relating to:-
- Violation of the rights of consumers
- Unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of the public and consumers and
- To promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.
Under section 20, the Central Authority may pass an order based on findings of the investigation on violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practice by a person for:-
- Recalling of goods or withdrawal of services which are dangerous, hazardous or unsafe;
- Reimbursement of the prices of goods or services so recalled to purchasers of such goods or services; and
- Discontinuation of practices which are unfair and prejudicial to consumers' interest
The District Consumers Forum has been re-designated as the District Consumers Division. The District Commission under section 34(1) shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration does not exceed one crore rupees whereas, prior to the 2019 amendment, the jurisdiction was up to Rs. 20 lakhs
The State Commission has been empowered with jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration, exceeds rupees one crore, but does not exceed rupees ten crores whereas earlier, it had the jurisdiction to entertain complaints up to the amount of Rs. 1 crore only.
Section 91 now provides for Punishment for manufacturing for sale or for storing or selling or distributing or importing spurious goods which has resulted in an injury not amounting to grievous hurt to the customer whereby-
- Clause (a) of sub-section (1) conveys imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with fine which may extend to three lakh rupees
- Clause (b) of sub-section (1) conveys imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees;
- Where the offence results in the death of the customer, clause (c) conveys imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years, but may extend to imprisonment for life and with fine which shall not be less than ten lakh rupees.
The offences mentioned under section 91(1)(b) and 91(1)(c) shall be cognizable and non-bailable as per sub-section (2) of section 91
Section 93 conveys powers on the Director-General or any other officer, for a search of any premises or seizure of any record, register or a document in the exercise of powers conferred under section 22. The offender is liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.