New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) The Consumer Protection Bill, 2018, which seeks stringent action including jail terms for misleading advertisements and adulteration along with time-bound redressal of consumers grievances, is likely to be passed during ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament.
The Bill also introduces provisions related to product liabilities, unfair trade practices and contracts, and enhances pecuniary jurisdiction of the Consumer Dispute Redressal Commissions.
While the existing Consumer Protection Act, 1986, includes all goods and service while the new Bill also cover offline and online transactions through electronic means or by teleshopping or direct selling or multi-level marketing.
After the new Bill is passed, which was introduced in Lok Sabha in January, manufacturers will be held responsible if a defects in goods have caused physical damage, injury or death.
In case of death of a customer is caused by adulteration, provision of punishment of at least seven years has been made in the new Bill.
It also seeks establishing of a Central Consumer Protection Authority while retaining the Consumer Protection Councils at the district, state and national level as per the existing Act.
The Authority can punish any manufacturer or service provider who causes a false or misleading advertisement with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakh.
And for every subsequent offence, imprisonment term may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to Rs 50 lakh.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said the Bill was critical to differentiate between the roles and responsibilities of small and genuine retailers.
CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said the distinction would prevent genuine retailers from being unfairly targeted for no fault of theirs.
“The new Bill intends to close the gaps with regard to protection of consumer rights including the time taken in settling disputes, an ability to reach to the manufactures for product liability and curb misleading advertisements,” he said.
Ashim Sanyal of non-profit Consumer VOICE said blatant misleading advertisements had become a norm.
“Thus the only way to protect consumers from falling prey is to introduce authoritative powers, strengthening of consumer forums, class action suits, penalties and host of other measures exists in the draft amendment bill,” he said.