‘Consumer protection bill to redress grievances of online shoppers’

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Taking cognisance of rising complaints of online and teleshopping buyers, the new Consumer Protection Bill, expected to be passed in the coming session of parliament, has all the essential features to protect the interest of online consumers, an official said here on Wednesday.

“The bill covers transactions through all modes, including offline, online, through electronic means, teleshopping, or other multi-level marketing,” an official of the food and consumer affairs ministry told IANS on condition of anonymity.

He said the ministry is also mulling setting up a committee of experts to suggest measures to strengthen consumer protection, especially for those who trade on e-commerce.

The consumer affairs ministry is also seized of growing complaints against delay and non-delivery of assured (or advertised) products to online and teleshopping buyers, the official said.

“The government is more than keen to address the grievances of online and teleshopping buyers. The Consumer Protection Bill (introduced in Lok Sabha on August 10, 2015) seeks to widen the ambit and modernise the law on consumer protection due to evolving changes in the markets,” said the official.

The draft law, which also seeks to recommend adequate penalty for erring manufacturers and traders, is being examined by a parliamentary panel.

The proposed law will also seek to ensure protection of consumers against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property.

The consumers will have the right to be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and the price of goods or services.

Among a number of steps envisaged to be undertaken, a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) will be set up to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers, the official said.

The issue of grievances of e-commerce buyers, especially on delivery of sub-standard items, figured prominently at a meeting of Central Consumer Protection Council, an advisory body of the ministry, here on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

“The suggestions of an expert committee that will study e-commerce trade and related issues is expected to submit its report by the first week of May. The recommendation of the committee will be examined by the minister and top officials, and then if necessary incorporated while framing rules for the new Consumer Protection Act,” the official said.

The parliamentary standing committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution headed by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) member J.C. Divakar Reddy is also examining the bill.

The food ministry is likely to take up with Delhi Jal Board the purity standards of water supplied in the capital.

The ministry has, meanwhile, urged consumers to complain if packaged drinking water is sold above maximum retail price at places like five-star hotels, malls and cinema halls and even airports.

–IANS

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