NEW DELHI: India’s consumer affairs, food and public distribution minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursdays said he hoped that the new bill to protect consumer rights will be introduced and passed in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.
“The Cabinet yesterday approved introduction of the Consumer Protection Bill, 2017. This is a historic bill. We hope that this Bill will be introduced and passed in the current session of Parliament,” the food and consumer affairs minister told reporters here.
This Bill seeks to replace the 31-year old law ‘Consumer Protection Act, 1986′, he said, adding that it would empower consumers and protect their rights in a better way.
The proposed law would help in dealing with current challenges emanating from digital and e-commerce transactions, he said, without sharing further details.
Paswan said vacancies in district, state and India-wide consumer forums would be filled up as the number of cases is increasing with higher consumer awareness.
The Bill seeks to establish an authority to safeguard consumers’ rights and has provisions for penalty and jail terms in case of adulteration and misleading ads by companies.
Celebrities endorsing misleading ads are also liable for fine and ban of up to three years.
In August 2015, GoI had introduced the Consumer Protection Bill in the Lok Sabha. A Parliamentary Standing Committee had also submitted its recommendations in April last year. The consumer affairs ministry has brought this bill as there were many amendments to the bill introduced in 2015.
On misleading ads, the bill provides for fine and ban on celebrities. In case of first offence, the fine will be up to Rs 10 lakh and a one-year ban on any endorsement. For the second offence, the fine will be up to Rs 50 lakh and up to three years’ ban.
However, for manufacturers and companies, penalty is up to Rs 10 lakh and up to two years’ jail for the first offence. The fine will be up to Rs 50 lakh and five years’ jail for subsequent offence.
The bill also provides for penalty and up to life term jail sentence in case of adulteration.
Sources said the new bill seeks to enlarge scope of the existing law and make it more effective and purposeful.
It seeks to establish a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA). It has provisions for post-litigation stage mediation as an alternate dispute resolution mechanism. The bill also provides for product liability action.