Govt to frame rules, form authority to implement Consumer Protection Act

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The government will frame rules and set up an authority to implement the new Consumer Protection Act by April this year, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Wednesday while stressing on the regulation of the e-commerce sector with a rise in online transactions.

Parliament last year approved 'The Consumer Protection Bill 2019', replacing the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The law seeks to revamp the process of administration and settlement of consumer disputes, with strict penalties, including jail term for adulteration and misleading ads by firms.

Paswan held discussions with industry representatives on key provisions of the proposed Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) as well as rules and regulations being formed under the Consumer Protection Act.

Industry bodies FICCI, ASSOCHAM, CII, PHDCCI and DICCI as well as officials from Amazon, HUL, P&G, Vodafone, Snapdeal, Zomato and Paytm attended the meeting.

"Today, we held a discussion with industry representatives. Everyone welcomed the new law to protect consumers interest. They have given good suggestions," Paswan told reporters here.

The minister said there were also discussions about frauds on online transactions and misleading advertisements.

Industry promised to strengthen self-regulatory mechanism and adopt best global practices in its businesses to protect consumers interest.

When asked about timelines to implement this law, Paswan said the rules as well as authority will come into force by April first week.

The CCPA, he said, will also have a dedicated wing to conduct investigation, which will carry out inquiries and investigations in matters relating to consumer rights, unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements.

The district collectors have also been empowered to conduct investigations that affect interests of consumer as a class under the new law under the aegis of CCPA.

The establishment of a central authority and initiating action as a class comes as an additional mode of relief which can be exercised along with individual consumers filing complaints to address their grievances thereby having two parallel proceedings.

Paswan told industries that the authority would be responsible for quality of products and also clarified that jail term is only for serious offences.

"Our priority is customers satisfaction. But we don't want to unnecessary trouble industry," the minister said.

Highlighting the main provisions of the new law, Paswan said the Consumer Protection Act 2019 has simplified rules for quick resolution of consumer disputes in various consumer dispute redressal commissions.

To prevent unnecessary long litigations, mediation has been introduced in all Commissions. The industry representatives hailed mediation as a time and resource saving mechanism for better satisfaction of consumers. To stop prolonged litigation, restrictions on number of appeals have been provided in the Act.

"The Union Minister stressed on the need to regulate ecommerce and direct selling as at present there is no regulatory body for these sectors and online purchases are increasing every day," an official statement said.

A ministry official informed that suggestions by stakeholders on draft e-commerce policy are being examined and final rules would be framed soon after vetting by the legal department.

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