The Lok Sabha, on December 20, 2018, has passed the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018, amid protests from the Congress members, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and AIADMK.

The Consumer Protection Bill 2018 seeks to replace the Consumer Protection Act, 2018.

Besides this bill, the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (Amendment) Bill, 2018, was also passed.

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Lok Sabha Consumer Protection Bill: The Background

In December 2017, in a discussion in the Rajya Sabha, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu narrated an incident wherein he lost money over an advertisement selling spurious weight loss medicine, which he never even received. Back then, discussions were on over tabling a Bill over Consumer Protection.

Now, one year later, the Bill was passed on Thursday, December 20, 2018. 11 members participated in the discussion. Discussions were marked by slogan-shouting and conduction of parallel mock proceedings by Congress members Sunil Jakhar and Sushmita Deb.

Discussion over Consumer Protection Bill, 2018

Consumer Protection Bill 2018

Consumer Affairs Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, participated in the discussion by stating that the legislation had not been amended for the last 32 years, and required changes to strengthen consumer rights.  He sought support from legislation, and stated that the bill is ‘non-controversial’ and is aimed at strengthening consumer rights.

UML member E T Mohammed Basheer said the Bill is “not sufficient to meet challenges”, and that “even though we call the consumer the king, he is exploited…cheated in many ways.”

P.K. Biju of the CPI(M) said, “The volume of online trading is increasing every year. What steps have been proposed to control this market?… No such provision… is visible in this Bill.”

Tathagata Satpathy (BJD) said the Bill gives excessive power to the bureaucracy. It should have sunset provisions under which the Bill can come to Parliament for amendments. He also stated that the Bill has provisions that are against the federal structure.

Reiterating that this Bill was introduced in the last winter session of the Parliament, and seeks to replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The latter was a three-decade-old bill and has been amended thrice, yet is found requiring tackling changes posed by online transactions, and tele-, multi-level, and digital marketing.

Objective of Consumer Protection Bill 2018

  • The Corporate Affairs Ministry stated that the main objective of the Bill would be ‘‘to provide for the protection of the interests of consumers and for the said purpose, to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes.’’
  • The Consumer Protection Bill 2018 seeks to set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA). Through it, it aims to “promote, protect and enforce the rights of the consumers.” The CCPA can also act on act on complaints of unfair trade practices, issue safety guidelines, order product recall or discontinuation of services, refer complaints to other regulators, and has punitive powers such as imposing penalties.”
  • The Consumer Protection Bill 2018 seeks provision of Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions at national, State and district-levels to look into consumer complaints. Consumer Protection Councils and Consumer Mediation Cells will be set up at the district, State, and national level, as advisory bodies.

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