Many developments, which have altered the market dynamic significantly both from a retail and a technological perspective, were not envisaged in the Consumer Protection Act 1986. Hence, there is an urgent need to revise existing regulations and formulate a restructured mechanism that can be aligned with the modern nature of markets. Comment.
- Introduce with CP Act and the changing landscape
- Highlight the issues with the current mechanism that needs changing
- Conclude appropriately
The Consumer Protection Act 1986 was enacted to safeguard the interests of consumers, and it has been effective to some degree. However, the Act had come into force at a time when the country’s economic landscape and the level of consumer awareness were at an infancy stage.
Need to revise existing regulation:
- Globalisation has resulted in a convergence of markets all across the world. Consumer relationships with businesses have become more complex since the opening up of the Indian economy in 1991. Therefore, the laws to protect them have to be commensurately adjusted.
- With the coming of the internet age, online transaction systems gained acceptance giving rise to the phenomenon of e-marketplaces. There is a lack of clarity around the after-sales services like refunds and returns in the present Act.
- Penal steps can be taken only through a judicial process before the State or District Consumer Redressal Forums, which are overburdened. As a result, consumers are being made to suffer for an average of five years to get their grievances redressed.There is no focus on time bound justice delivery in the present act.
- The present act does not provide ways to settle the disputes through alternate dispute resolution mechanisms.
- The need was felt to have a Central Authority, which will act as a national regulator for the protection of consumer rights and will take suo moto action against companies indulging in unfair trade practices to the detriment of consumers.
- In the absence of provisions for class law suit, the current act fails to compensate group of people with the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action. The individual law suits have to be filed to avail the compensation.
It is necessary for India to ensure that its consumer’s interests are protected since high level of consumer confidence in an economy allows them to experiment and support new businesses, thus boosting competition and encouraging growth. In this context, the government has proposed Consumer Protection Bill 2017, which has provisions to deal with the fast changing technological and market dynamics, e-commerce being the latest.
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