World Consumer Rights Day 2021: What is the importance of the day, know about Indian Consumer Protection Act

New Delhi: World Consumer Rights Day, falling on March 15 every year, is meant for raising global awareness about consumer rights and needs. 

What is the importance of World Consumer Rights Day?

World Consumer Rights Day was inspired by President John F Kennedy. Kennedy had sent a special message to the US Congress on 15th March 1962, wherein he had formally addressed the issue of consumer rights. He was the first world leader to do so. The consumer movement, first marked that date in 1983, has since been observed, every year to mobilise action on important issues and campaigns.

India Consumer Protection Act 2020

The newly enacted Consumer Protection Act comes to force on July 20, 2020, replacing more than three decades old Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The new Consumer Protection Act 2019 seeks to revamp the process of administration and settlement of consumer disputes, with strict penalties, including jail term for adulteration and misleading ads by firms.

The bill, among other things, proposes setting up of a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class. The CCPA would make interventions to prevent consumer detriment arising from unfair trade practices. The agency can also initiate class action, including enforcing recall, refund and return of products.

The Bill also envisages simplified dispute resolution process, has provision for Mediation and e-filing of cases.  The Consumer will be able to file cases in the nearest commission under the jurisdiction of which he resides. Consumers can file complaints from anywhere and they do not need to hire lawyer to represent their cases. For mediation, there will be strict timeline fixed in the rules.

On misleading advertisements there is provision for jail term and fine for manufacturers. There is no provision for jail for celebrities but they could be banned for endorsing products if it is found to be misleading. For the first time there will be an exclusive law dealing with Product Liability. A manufacturer or product service provider or product seller will now be responsible to compensate for injury or damage caused by defective product or deficiency in services.

There is also a provision for class action law suit for ensuring that rights of consumers are not infringed upon. The authority will have power to impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to 10 lakh rupees and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.

Product liability provision to deter manufacturers and service providers from delivering defective products or deficient services. The Bill also enables regulations to be notified on E-commerce and direct selling with focus on protection of interest of consumers.

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Sagar Biswas

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